The Company I Keep

Sometimes I’ll get up in the morning and go the entire day without wearing my glasses. My waking vision is at times considerably quite good. I can’t see far distances, but anything within a three-foot radius is surprisingly clear. But sometimes, my eyes will open while I’m in bed and I won’t need to see anything at all. I already know what’s there.

On several occasions throughout my life I’ve woken from a dreamless sleep, my throat dry, my eyes darting in the darkness; my heart thumping, my stomach tight from an unknown’s anxious clutch. It’s not that shadows lurk or doors creak, but something is in that room with me. Someone. More than one.

All my life, friends, family, people from church have reassured me that I am not alone. They’ve always meant it as moral support – someone knows how I’m feeling or understands what I’m going through. They’ve offered encouragement or a shoulder to cry on. I’ve received numerous blessings emphasizing how much God loves me and wants me to approach him at any time, for anything. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I can’t remember when I didn’t ever know this.

This knowledge is powerful stuff, and it’s useful, particularly when I’ve been in a room by myself, and I’ve definitely felt, in a nonassuring way, that I am not alone. The slightest brush that I wouldn’t have felt if I had been awake jolts me into consciousness, then I’m cold, and I’m sweating.

It usually happens between 1am and 4am. I’m scared to speak, and while I want to ask, “Who’s there?” I don’t, because I already know the answer. And, what if these nonmortals, while I’m wide awake, can actually talk? What if I could actually hear a voice, or voices, outside of my own head? What if we had a conversation?

I’m huddled under my blanket. I keep my eyes open, ears keen. Breathing fast, I throw the covers off and turn the lights on.

Then I kneel beside the bed and request security, which comes immediately. My quickest approach.

I don’t feel a constant or continuous presence hovering; ghosts do not sidle me, matching my stride. I don’t welcome these particular experiences, and these are the moments in my life when I have been the most afraid. I am not a visionary person, in fact those who know me would probably say I’m rather grounded. Or balanced. Which is probably why these visits occur when I am unguarded, unthinking; when the room is unlit. Whatever they are, they are not dead, exactly. They also haven’t lived. They can’t touch me. I have no reason to be scared.

I am not alone.

***

People.

I can’t believe I’ve been sitting at this computer almost all day, grappling with words and ideas that just wouldn’t flow. Maybe I thought this would be a good way to confront these kinds of experiences, but instead I realize only I don’t understand them enough; I haven’t let them process. Maybe I don’t need to, except in the way I deal with them, which is the only sensible way: prayer. 

Maybe if I had just started out writing about yesterday’s Primary program at church and the children singing with their whole souls, and how I caught some sort of vision of my future self reviewing my future child’s speaking part during the week and singing the songs with her to make sure she knows all the words, and how a small sob got stuck in my throat, how real it all seemed, how true it would be, and how the words to the songs would carry special meaning to me as I sing with her. Her. A little girl, around seven years old.

Maybe I would have found a way to tie in how sometimes in the temple I see my future husband, except he’s not among the men sitting in the room with me; how I think of him every time I go, how I can’t help but think of him since the very first time the notion of him entered my mind only a couple of years ago. I wonder how we’ll actually meet. I see his smile. And his kind eyes. He’s being patient.

Maybe I would have better described the conditions whereupon these palpable ideations occur – how I’m awake, alert; where a lot of light shines. Maybe I would have elaborated on the peace and the confidence and the calm excitement and the hope I feel; how I strive not to disappoint those I see. How, especially given what I know of God, my friends and family, I can take heart and increase the power of this knowledge. How I have no need to fear.

I already know what’s there. They wait. They don’t have to say anything. They live, or will yet live.

They’re around.

I am not alone.

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