The sun was touching my face and it wasn't burning. In fact it felt good. It felt sort of healthy and warming not scalding and hurtful like... like... like it really does to me.
Ah, this was a dream. The first clue my subconscious picked up on that I was actually asleep and experiencing one of my frequent livid dreams. Interesting. Interesting was the fact that I was feeling the sun and enjoying it versus shying away and seeking shade to protect myself from its burning rays eating my skin. Even in my dreams the sun usually hurt or burned but not this time. This was pleasantly different. I turned my face upward and squinted against the sun's brightness and let it warm my face more, soaking in its life giving rays.
I noticed I was sitting in long soft grass with a gentle breeze blowing. I was on the side of a rounded downward sloped hill that overlooked a large field of grass that appeared to be the same kind as I was sitting in. The grass seemed uniformly about a foot tall swaying in the gentle breeze like lazy undulating waves of water. The field of grass was surrounded by thick old growth woods that gave the whole area a feeling of containment yet hinted at titillating adventure beyond if one just dared ventured into their depths. The hill I was sitting on a emptied out as the only opening to the field below me almost like it was an arena and I occupied the best seat in the house.
There was a haze. A haze like those in the old movies when the camera would do a head shot of the heroine and she was supposed to look beautiful and her face was all fuzzy and dreamy like. You know what I mean... sort of out of focus a bit as if to hide her imperfections. Well, that's the kind of hazy this was, too. But when I was dreaming it I wasn't thinking about what the haziness may be hiding. I wasn't thinking of why it was "out of focus". I actually seemed to be just the way it was supposed to be. Dreamy like. But, I didn't really think about that at all because soon after I noticed the haze and was looking around at the haziness of everything that's when I heard Charles' voice.
"Sorry I haven't come to visit you like I promised, Bone." he said as if I knew he was sitting right there beside me all along.
Bone ... only he called me that all these years. Bones or Bone, he used them interchangeably but when he was being most affectionate it was always 'Bone'. Only he could take what the bullies called me when I was little and turn it into a lifelong pet name that I grew to love hearing him say.
There he was sitting beside me on the hill overlooking the grass waves field below us and I was sure he had not been there a moment ago. I wasn't startled in the least. It seems like I should have been but I wasn't and it was perfectly right for him and I to be sitting there on the hill in the sun together. I turned to look at him and he was smiling while he examined the fluffy head of a dandelion gone to seed. He was young and healthy and so very much alive.
I suddenly knew I was young, too. Let's say we were probably both in our teens or early twenties. Age and time obviously didn't mean much in this world of hazy waving grass and soft warm sun breezes. He continued to examine the dandelion and looked so happy and contented. He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and then blew the dandelion parachutes into the wind in a single burst of white fluffiness that was swept away from us and out over the field of waving grass below us.
"Sorry, I haven't come to visit you like I promised," he started again.
"That's okay," I interrupted. "I understand." But I didn't. I just didn't want him to have to apologize to me for anything. I wanted him to stay here with me like this in the hazy sunlight sitting on the hill above the grassy meadow. It felt so right. It felt so real. It felt so peaceful.
"I will do it but it's taking longer than I had thought it would," he began again as if I hadn't interrupted at all. "But I thought I would come this way and tell you that I hadn't forgotten and to make sure you were all right."
"I'm okay." I said without thinking and I meant it at that moment.
"Are you?" He asked with a hint of a raised blond eyebrow.
I didn't answer and looked away from his eyes for a moment. This was only a dream, I reminded myself. This wasn't real. He couldn't really be here. He was ...
I looked back up from picking a blade of grass from between my crossed legs and he was looking intently at me and still smiling with a single blade of long grass dangling from his lips as he chewed it. That silly impish look he could get about him that made him look like a mischievous devil in a blond-headed innocent boy's body.
"Yeah, I'm making it," I lied.
He knew I was lying. Damn it, I could see it in his face. He knew. He didn't press me on it or even stop smiling but only looked out over the meadow to give me a chance to blush privately.
"Charles, can I ask you some questions?" I asked hoping to change the topic away from how I was doing.
Was that a twinkle of delight in his eyes as he turned to me? "I knew you would have lots of questions," he said with a definite twinkle of delight. There was understanding and love beaming from him almost like light. Was that what love looked like? "Yeah, it's okay to ask me questions."
And I began to ask my questions. All the questions I had thought to myself for a month came flooding out of me. Questions like what was it like and where was he and was he happy and was there really a heaven like we thought of it and what was God really like and and and and and
I don't remember a single thing he told me.
But, he did answer every one of my questions candidly and without the slightest hesitation. We laughed a lot and he assured me it was all so much better than I could imagine and that I didn't have anything to be afraid of. I don't remember the words he told me even though the whole time I kept thinking I needed to remember all of this because it was all so awesome and would change my life forever. I don't remember the exact words, but I remember the feelings.
The feeling of a peace that definitely passed my understanding. The feeling of an unconditional love freely given without reservation and in limitless measure. The feeling of the cumbersome burdens of pain and sorrow and helplessness lifted off of me because finally I knew there was nothing to be pained or sorrowed or helpless over any longer. It was all great and just fine and dandy, according to Charles and I believed him and knew it was so. Even though I don't remember his words he still got the message across. The message that I was free to move on and that he would always live in my heart and in my memories.
Then I woke up.