You know that time in the very early morning, the space between sleep and awake? When your dreams are vivid and intense? You know your sort of awake and it’s near time to start your day, yet you can’t seem to leave the surreal experience in that somewhat dream-state. Or maybe you don’t want to.
That was me the other morning. Those few moments where literally breathtaking. It has taken me a couple days of sitting with it to be able to put it into words. And actually, I am not sure I really ever can put it into words in a such a way that you, the reader will be able to grasp the totality of the emotions.
Earlier in the night I had some basic dreams. A couple random people from my past with surface level interactions and something to do with dogs all taking place at a house I lived in year ago with some new add-ons. Nothing out of the ordinary. I remember waking up and coming out of that dream with no emotional residue.
As I continue to lie in bed, I doze off into that in between space. I am immediately dropped back into that dream, or at least that same house but this time my friend Eddie appears. He is wearing his typical black fitted t-shirt, blue jeans and big heartwarming smile. My heart tumbles at the sight of him. WIthin seconds he encases me in his arms. I am instantly crushed by a torrent of emotions. My body trembling, I can barely stand but he holds me up right. It’s impossible to put into words all that I felt in that moment.
I remember saying, ‘Eddie, I miss you so much.” Your laugh or silly antics and your wisdom. But mostly, I miss your warmth and your love. I apologized for not being open or aware enough at that time in my life to receive all he had to give and teach. Saying I am sorry for not staying in better touch and keeping us close. Eddie continued to hold me tight reassuring me there was nothing to apologize for. Letting me know he was and is always is here to support and love me.
And then, as quickly as he came to me in that in between space, he was gone. I woke, my body still trembling and feeling heavy. All the emotions still swirling chaotically for what seemed like…a very long time.
You see, Eddie and I meet in ’99. We became close friends at first and then lovers. As passionate as our relationship was, it was short lived. You see, Eddie choose to follow his dreams, which I fully supported, and moved across the country to LA. Eddie was an incredible artist. Anything he put his hands on artistically he excelled at – character acting, music, pantomime, writing, etc. We remained close friends throughout the years and the last time I saw Eddie was in 2011 when he came back to NC after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. To make a long story short, he fought cancer and was able to put it into remission for a the next few years.
Eddie was an example of what it looks like to follow one’s dreams at any cost. To live life at the edge, wholeheartedly and unapologetically. He left all of his friends and his family. Lived in a car in LA as he tried to make it in the acting business. Slept on couches and floors. Ate whatever when he could, which wasn’t all that often sometimes. Eddie, played congos in a couple bands out there, he became a photographer and took acting gigs when offered. He was in movies with Denzel Washington, Robert De Niro, and many others. His last role, before he died in 2014 was Westworld. Eddie was in the first episode and they liked him so much they were going to keep his character for a few more episodes than originally planned but he died before that could happen. The folks at HBO and Westworld, honored Eddie by keeping his scenes in the first episode.
I will never forget when I received the news about Eddie dying. I was in Atlanta, working on a Christmas tree lot. I woke to a text message that simply said, “Eddie is dying.” I was devastated. I, no one, could speak with him. Tell him they loved him. Thank him for his friendship. Nothing. He was unresponsive. I tried to remember that last time we had spoken. It had been a few months. He past away later that evening. That was almost 5 years ago.
Eddie Rouse, you are forever etched in the hearts of all you ever crossed paths with. I love you.