For the last several nights, I’ve woken in the early hours of the morning, shortly before dawn, from the same dream. I replay the details in my mind while I lie in bed, waiting for my breathing to slow down and the tightness in my chest to subside. The afterimages are vivid for a very brief time and I’m left with my hands clenched tightly and an ache in my heart, but I fall back asleep for a few fitful minutes, trying desperately to get away from that dream. And then when I wake again, I have no memory of the details.
This morning, I remember bits and pieces. I remember looking for something I just couldn’t find and I am not one to lose things. In my dream, I cry out in frustration to a friend but there’s no one there. No one and nothing. It’s gone, whatever it was. But this was the second part of the dream. This was the part that woke me in the morning after I’d woken before dawn from something I can’t remember. It left me with a sense of loneliness; loneliness and loss. Both faded when I opened my eyes and saw the room filled with daylight.
As I scribble this on a notepad that I keep in my night table drawer, the details come back slowly. There were three people in the first dream, the same three people I’ve dreamt about for several nights in a row. Loss makes more sense now. They’re there, I know they are, but they’re out of my reach. Lost. Why those three? That I don’t know. Why them, over and over?
I’d like to go back to a time when it wasn’t so common for me to feel fear subside when I open my eyes in the morning, but I don’t even know when that would have been. Two years ago? Three? Longer? I miss you, I guess, is the moral of the story. Several “I miss yous,” to be precise. You’re there, but not for me, not like you were some time ago but I don’t even know when. Things changed. I can’t quite reach you anymore. (Why those three?)
Navigating this life when I’m alone frightens me but that mostly comes up at night, in the dark, when my walls are down, distractions put away, and it’s plainly obvious that alone is exactly what I am. But I’ve had these dreams the last several nights in a row, dreams that have left me with those feelings. Maybe the alone-ness, which isn’t quite the same as being lonely, is bothering me more than I thought.
But it’s morning now and the room is bright. The stiffness in my hands, nails digging into my palms when I wake, has subsided; I can see it in my handwriting on this notepad. My breathing is calm and eyes are wide open, gazing around the room in recognition instead of squeezed shut, unwilling to admit that whatever it was is lost, hoping to sink back into the dream and find it.
Until tomorrow, then.
Maybe I’ll find it this time. Whatever I’m looking for.