“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
― J.M. Barrie,
Research has shown that your body is somehow weakest between 3:00AM and 4:00AM. This is the time period when a lot of souls leave this world. I believe that maybe this is the time that Heaven, or whatever version of afterlife you believe in, is closest to our spirits.
I sometimes find the place between awake and asleep among the early morning light. In the time between moon set and sun rise, there is a perfect doorway, a thinning veil, a brief space of access that opens and let’s me wander through with no effort. In this place between awake and asleep, there is no time, there are only endless possibilities and fleeting interactions with those who’ve left our lives. These people haven’t always passed from the world we live in everyday, they just happen to live in both. A duality of existence on two planes if you will. This is not an alternative universe, you won’t find separate reality theory, nothing scientific, only a distant and different place of mind and soul. In this place, between awake and asleep, among the growing light, your people are there. The ones you love, the ones you’ve lost, the ones you desire, those you need. It’s not a place where wishes are instantly granted, there are no awe-inspiring miracle revelations, you won’t be handed the answers to life, the keys to the universe or any upcoming winning lottery numbers, there is no instant gratification. It offers peace, it offers tranquility. For me it offers a contentment and an assurance that my soul is truly whole in this place between awake and asleep. At this time, it secures for my heart and spirit that, though divided down the middle, broken, constantly yearning, containing holes reaching infinity across an unfathomable distance, it is still existing. When I am not here in this place between awake and asleep, I am eagerly peering round edges, peeping out the corners of my eyes for a glimpse and hiding behind a pretense of urbane normality, I am alone in the universe. Do not mistake my words, I am surrounded by amazing people who love me everyday and I love each and every one of them dearly. I do not, in any possible way belittle their existence or in any way intend to diminish their presence in my life. They are my people, my tribe, my family and my life. I would not be here today without them. However, in reality, they are still not the center of my universe. That spot is empty, vacant, void. It is a feeling akin to the sudden drop when you plunge off the hill at the edge of a rollercoaster. The first feeling plummeting out of the plane before you pull the cord on your parachute. It’s the dive to the pit of your stomach when you wake up from a dream where you are falling. Some mornings, when the desire to stay is so strong and I am weak, I try to choose not to wake up and I desperately need to complete that fall. No, you must not. You’re not done yet. There are no applications available for that void of a spot and there never will be. No matter how hard I try, that spot remains vacant. It remains cold and ice filled. I slip between the cobweb silken curtains from our plane to the place between awake and asleep. He stands there as guardian of all that is, or ever was, me. It only lives now in this place between awake and asleep. He holds it softly in his hand as you would a butterfly. He stands tall. He smells of Pinesol and detergent, the smell I associate with everything that has ever been good in my life, though I’ve never been able to duplicate it. Here, in this place between awake and asleep, his long dark hair rustles in a soft breeze, though I can’t place the source. In the distance, here in this place between awake and asleep, stands the familiar family house. Mom, outside on the porch coffee in hand. The car hood is up, there’s a plaid arm and a baseball brim under the old, faded red hood. The dog’s name is Milo, he climbs trees. The brothers are there too in this place between awake and asleep, one so alike and the other so different. It’s a family day, Friday. Tonight Mom will make the weekly family dinner and everyone will pile around while the men try to out eat each other. Children, though we haven’t been blessed with the ones we hope for yet, roll and run in the yard. Tears roll down my cheeks realizing how much it hurts to miss it so much. Now, it only exists here in this place between awake and asleep. It’s only been seconds and I turn back. He always wears white or blue here in this place between awake and asleep. They are my favorite colors, though his eyes are hazel and green has always been his best color. His hand reaches first, he always comes for me, every time without fail. He even comes in random dreams, but those dreams are different from this place between awake and asleep. Those random dreams are fantasies, they aren’t real. They are wishes, needs, cries, sleepy hallucinations brought on by real world manifestations of pain. Here in this place between awake and asleep, it feels so much more indisputably real, here in this place between awake and asleep he truly comes for me to save my sanity, to preserve me, to remind me, to give me back what he can give me of me. Here in this place between awake and asleep is protection, a buffer, a space behind the wall where I can be, where I can hide for just a little while, a few stolen moments in the space between awake and asleep. Here is love, here glowing in the mist and surrounding light, here in this place between awake and asleep is my heart. It is no longer in my body, it stands before me with its fingers entwined in mine and begins to walk across the dew dropped grass and flowers. Here in this place between awake and asleep I gladly hand over life and surrender existence for the blessed reward of the presence by my side. No matter how long it lasts, seconds, minutes, I dare not hope for hours, though I’d gladly give my entire being for a day. I am me again for however long it lasts here in this place between awake and asleep. I can talk, I can tell all. I can speak without editing. I can be crazy, I can laugh, whatever goes through my head comes out with no filter. Here, I am most creative, the ideas flow, the opinions are validated and all is right with my world here in this place between awake and asleep. There is complete, utter, unconditional acceptance from him. There is no worry of division, there is no consideration for eggshells or mincing of words. Here in this place between awake and asleep, we are once again a force of nature, two against the world. There’s no damper or limitation on my personality here in this place between awake and asleep. As always, there is no recrimination, there are no accusations, there is no anger. He laughs, he grins, he listens,he shakes his head, he encourages, he stops and kisses my forehead, tells me to slow down, but I can’t. He’s here, he’s mine, I am by God’s grace whole for as long as I’ve got. My time of freedom with him here in this place between awake and asleep is limited and our visits brief. There’s so very much. It isn’t a true back and forth exchange, it never was. I gushed, he laughed, poked fun, occasionally replied, mostly just listened held my hand and rolled with the whirlwind. He made me Queen of the World, but I belonged to him, he believed that was his job, I lived atop the pedestal he built. He wanted that, he created my world and he upheld the rules with his standards and his person. He maintains the seat, even here in this place between awake and asleep. As we continue to move like two planets with perfect gravitational synchronization, stopping among green trees dripping morning dew, I feel his hand lift my chin, his other arm rests lightly at my waist. Here in this place between awake and asleep, it’s emotional for me, the feel of his skin on mine in so small a gesture. It’s not erotic, it’s human contact. It’s his trademark. When we existed together that link always existed and was never broken. Never an hour passed without that contact, even if only something so simple as a hand brushing across the back of my neck in passing. I physically miss it now. I lean towards it like a kitten, knowing it only exists here in this place between awake and asleep. As always, my head still rests in the middle of his chest, he reminds me that I still belong to him. Life, death, ride, die, redemption, damnation, the promise we made in blood, tears, happiness, loss, anger and sorrow was Always and Forever. Eternity together. I’ve never given it to another, and I never will for that belongs to him alone. Here in this place between awake and asleep, there is a thread, invisible and stronger than anything found in life or death. Through it, we are still connected and whole, wrapped twice around each our wrists, we are simply on two separate planes at this point in time. Here in this place between awake and asleep, there is a promise, held on a contract, written on solid gold, in the mornings first whisper that both halves of this split and broken soul will eventually be sealed tight and whole again to its true other half. He knows this, he always did have the unswerving conviction. I was the over thinker, the worrier. Here in this place between awake and asleep I am whole, I am me, I am happy. Now, here in this place between awake and asleep, the light is brightening, the dew is drying. Mist starts to clear and the touch of skin starts to fade. Wait, no. I can’t. Don’t let me go back, not yet. If I go now, I will lose it again, I will lose what I’ve found here, I will lose me. You will, he says, but it has to be that way. I’m sorry and I love you. I guard you, I stand over you, body and soul, Always and Forever. That was my promise, I am keeping it from here in the place between awake and asleep even when you don’t know why. You are whole here with me in this place between awake and asleep. The light is getting brighter in the curtain, sleep fades as his hand falls from mine here in this place between awake and asleep. I hang on tightly wishing the light away. Write it he says, write it all, take me with you out of this place between awake and asleep. I will follow, I will hold, I will stand, I will love you. I am your muse, I am your ghost, I am yours, you will always be mine. I am your story to write even when it’s not about me, it’s me by your side. I am your guard, I hold your wall. He fades, I lie there, a train wreck once again, tightening my eyelids trying to force my way back, knowing, it’s over now. I am awake. I must persevere, visit when I am invited, or can steal the chance, and wait patiently. Patience is not my virtue. I am not a patient creature by nature. I am no longer there, I am here in the first light. I will miss the place between awake and asleep. I will write today, I will write this story.