My hearing is the first sense to awaken. I am dreaming, and then I hear a very quiet whimper on the inhales of my dog Mia’s breaths. I am awake, then asleep for several cycles. Mia’s whimpers are becoming louder and soon I am awake and hearing each whimper. Mia has to go outside and pee. I want to stay under the covers, but I have to respond to her need to pee. “Okay, okay I hear you.” I say this every morning but I doubt she cares. Roscoe wakes and winds up for the day. There are mornings when I need to peel myself off the sheets and make a super human effort to throw the covers off. Does anyone really jump out of bed completely awake, ready to face the day? If so, I hate them!
I have always been fascinated by the mystery of sleep. Awake one moment and asleep the next, how does that work? I think sleep is not turned on and off like a light switch, but is on a dimmer switch. Muscles relax, breathing gets slower and deeper, the mind wanders into mazes and the next thing you know you wake up and it is then you realize you were asleep. My emotions seem to happen in the same way–slowly, growing with intensity and soon I am wandering through the maze with my fire and my heart. The next thing I know, I “wake” up and realize I have fallen in love or I am so sad I don’t know if I can survive it. Most of life is lived in between sleep and full awareness, somewhere on this continuum which rests on the fulcrum of denial. I can refuse to deal with a painful situation and deny it is happening, but I may start having bad dreams and night terrors. Asleep or awake, pain must be reckoned with.
When I live my life on automatic I am not asleep nor am I fully awake. Habit and memory keep me moving, but I am not becoming more aware or more human. I am “sleep walking” through life. If I bump someone they may say “Pay Attention , you idiot!”. I can only attend to my life when I am awake and using all my senses. In the first few months after Roger died, sleep walking was the only way I got through. I did not want to be fully awake, I was pretty sure it was a nightmare and I would wake up and all would be fine. I was obsessed with needing to know when the exact moment was that Roger became “not ” Roger and dementia claimed him. Even though I understood that dementia happened in increments , I wanted to know when the scales tipped to “not” Roger.
As he got sicker Roger slept a lot and he could not stay awake by sheer will-power. Was sleep more real to him than being awake? What were his dreams like? There are some things that are not limited by time, no before and after. I don’t remember who said this or where I read it, but I understand it more now: “I would not know until I knew.”