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Slices of Life... The last lap

Sunshine streams in the windows. Birds chirp and warble happy morning hellos to each other and anyone who will listen, although I am oblivious to their greetings. The alarm clock sounds and from somewhere outside the edges of my awareness I hear ...

Sunshine streams in the windows. Birds chirp and warble happy morning hellos to each other and anyone who will listen, although I am oblivious to their greetings. The alarm clock sounds and from somewhere outside the edges of my awareness I hear a young voice calling, "Mom!"

Morning comes too soon. On this day - like most - I am not ready. I roll over and cling to unconsciousness, fully immersing and indulging myself in the last lap of sleep.

The last lap, when morning tugs at you, but your brain is unwilling, your body lies heavy with resistance and you sink more fully into the mattress and further into rapid eye movement.

The most treasured moments of sleep come at the end of the night - or more accurately the start of morning - when the best dream is about to begin, your pillow is elevated in softness and the sheets have developed a new level of crispness.

I pull the blankets up over my shoulders and the weight and warmth surrounds me like a cloud as I turn to savor the last lap.

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The last lap - when you open one eye halfway to look at the clock and see you still have 10 minutes. The duration seems expansive - much longer than it would if you were really awake - because time stretches beyond definition. Ten minutes unfolds like an hour, without a second wasted on anything but those glorious final moments of

unconsciousness.

The last lap - the end of a long-distance race - where it all comes to completion. Your legs propel you forward toward the finish line. Morning sounds try to interrupt your run, but you round the bend again and again, wishing it could last forever.

The last lap - mesmerizing and languid - like the lapping of the waters on the shoreline. Fluid. Free. Filled with a calm and haze that distorts to a make the world slightly out of focus. You sit on the sand, reaching your toes out to touch the cool water as it surges forward before retreating in the rhythm that is the tide.

The last lap - immersed in the water - face down, swimming the length of a pool. Reaching an arm up and then downward. First one, then the other. Stroke, breathe, stroke. Gliding smooth and weightless.

The last lap - climbing onto your grandmother's lap as she rocks in her chair - maybe on the front porch, maybe in the front room. The memory is as fuzzy as her slippers. She wraps her arms around you in a soft embrace. She smells of the kitchen - an intermingling of coffee, soap and bacon grease - and you nuzzle in for the comfort of a hug only a grandma can give.

The last lap - a dog's welcome tongue on your face - sloppy and slobbering, but pleasant somehow. Undeniably friendly. The licking, lapping pup's actions tickle and you laugh in your sleep as you cascade toward consciousness. Down boy. That's enough now. I'll get your breakfast in a minute.

The last lap - those final moments when the first rays of sun slip in through the curtains and sleep feels not like a need, but an indulgence. When you want nothing more than to linger half an instant, to draw out this last lap a little further, before the rigors of daylight and wakefulness can be denied no longer. 

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Cloquet resident Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication," is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. Email her at pertmn@qwest.net or visit her website at http://marketing-by-design.home.mchsi.com/

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