I might as well get up.
The last few nights I’ve awakened around 3 a.m., my thoughts flying to my friend who died suddenly on November 8 at 57 years old.
I recognize this, this peculiar alarm clock that rings in the deep night to remind me that something is wrong.
In the days after my mother died in 1999, and my Dad died this past January, I awakened with a racing heartbeat, momentarily panicked, feeling that there was something I should do. This is different.
I awoke with her face floating gently in front of me, smiling. My awareness grew to include the percussion of the long-awaited rain tapping lightly and steadily in the metal gutter just outside my bedroom window. Rain reminds me of home.
In my adolescence in Tacoma, rain was often the last sound I heard before dropping into dreams and the first when I awakened. It surrounded me, drops splashing on the rear concrete patio to my left and rivulets sluicing off the sloped path behind me at window height, inches from my headboard. Periodically the white noise of the mammoth furnace would overtake it, but even that was a comforting sound. Above me, I heard the occasional creak of my father’s bedsprings as he adjusted his position in sleep.
The cat is concerned, padding over the papers on my desk to approach me at keyboard height, his tawny eyes observant. When I lean forward, he abrades my face with his rough tongue, scouring me with affection. I pick him up for the moment he will tolerate being cradled in my arms, and he purrs. For him to turn on his motor is a rarity, a sign of affection he seldom confers.
I don’t know what I’m doing up either. I know if I post this that friends will worry how I’m handling my friend’s loss, but to awaken and think of her is not a sign of distress. It’s more like communing with someone dear, someone worth missing.
Here comes the rain again. Shakespeare springs to mind,
“The quality of mercy is not strained./It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven/ Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:/ It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”