Every now and then, I’m quickly awakened from deep and unsettling dreams. Then I find myself in that place between dreams and waking life, where whatever I was dreaming about has taken hold. Usually on these deep nights, it’s about the afterlife or lack thereof, of heartbreaking past loves or charismatic strangers. Sometimes it’s about loved ones long gone. What it is is deep. I’m in deep. Then something will wake me up suddenly, without much of a transition between deep dreams and relieving reality. In this case it was a cat pounding on a glass door, and Des kicking his crib. He had fallen asleep in a fleece jacket and sneakers, when he’s used to going to bed in just a t-shirt and pants. He was sweaty and thrashing and kicking.
We brought him into bed. He kicked and kicked and kicked himself to sleep. In those moments between deep sleep and waking life, my heart pounds. It’s always during those dreadful hours between 2:00 and 4:00am. I call it the darkest point of the night. I was in so deep and to wake up so suddenly makes me assume the worst. A sick kid. A sick pet. A phone call.
It’s nice when it’s just a kid who wakes himself up in a sweat. I did some deep breathing and all was calm. All was silent. All was bright. The unsettled wake up from the dreamy depths of darkness feeling passed quickly and I was back to dreamland.
It was only the darkest point of the night emotionally. Physically, the light was already thinking about trickling in. Just when we thought all was silent, we heard a bird song loud and clear. It was like a lighthouse cutting through the dark.
On the night we landed in Orlando Airport in January, we still had to drive about two hours to St. Augustine. I had dozed off in the car, making sure to take lots of gulps of water because I tend to dehydrate on airplanes – not just from the dryness, but from the nerves keeping me from drinking enough. I woke up and I was in a beach town. I had woken up early that morning, some 15 hours earlier, onto a frozen wasteland. There were no birdsongs. No sunshine. I took two kids to daycare and school, and picked them up, and we got on our way to Bradley International Airport in Hartford. We had one flight, a two hour drive, and a 40 degree difference in temperature. Then I found myself in this most perfect town. The Christmas lights were still up on the light posts, and they were shaped like sand dollars and seahorses and starfish. I saw palm trees and resorts and mini golf. I opened my window to the beach breezes and the salty air. It was already cutting through and curling my wavy hair.
After knocking on the wrong door of the wrong house (oops), we found my in-laws’ winter rental. They welcomed us into the fold of the beach life, and we integrated ourselves within seconds. We were ready. Then my father-in-law took me outside the sliding glass door, out over a walkway, and onto a sandy beach. He turned off his flashlight and through the blackness I could see every star in the sky. It was the darkest point of the night – but only physically. Not emotionally. Not this time.
“You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you… Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.” — Tinkerbell from Hook