Sweet dreams (of you…)

I used to have a quite a few dreams about John, they seem to have slowed down lately. They have also changed drastically from when he first died to now. Immediately after his death, I would find him after frantically searching. I recall the first dream was very distinct, feeling that he was there with an intense presence. In every dream, John is loving and comforting, saying, “I’m right here, it’s OK, I’m with you. I haven’t left.” In subsequent months, I had more trouble finding him in the dreams, for instance, I couldn’t find the phone number or didn’t know where he was living and couldn’t reach him. Later they turned into me finding him only to discover he had a new and different life than I knew about. Nonetheless, he was always happy to see me.

Here’s an example of one I had about six  months after he died. (side note: What could possibly be more boring than someone else’s dreams. Real life is weird enough. But then, you could say that about an enormous number of things. Blogs, for instance…)

In this dream, I was heartbroken at losing John but in the sense that he had left me, not that he had died. I kept thinking that if only I could talk to him… find his phone number somehow… that I would feel better. I was in a car with RJF, she was driving and telling me about a job she was going to award to me that was a big step for my business. I was then out of the car, but knew that she was still driving. I was in a big warehouse that was very similar to the gymnasium/lunchroom in my elementary school. I was cleaning up, there were boxes and old things everywhere. Buried deep under a table, musty and covered with sheets, was a wedding album of John’s new wife. She was Japanese, they had married just a few years. He looked so young and handsome. He seemed happy with this new wife and the different life he was leading. The wedding had been a very simple civil ceremony. I worried for a while that what would I do, since I had thought I was his widow… but then realized that we never divorced, so he couldn’t be married to this new woman. But still… I was so relieved to see that he was happy and that he had a good life separate from me.

I thought if only I could talk to him, I would be OK and could go on. Since I didn’t have a phone number for him, I just called RJF’s office, thinking that I would transfer over to his office—apparently he worked for/with her. It seemed to be a big company. And surprisingly, he answered the phone.

“John??” I said with surprise. There was silence for a minute and his voice clearly said, “A.?” I began to feel guilty and sad for making him talk to me and apologized. He was sweet and kind and seemed so happy to hear from me, saying, “I always want to talk to you. Don’t be afraid to call, you can always call me.” Something along those lines. I was flooded with relief, and said, “Oh John, I’m doing all this work. Am I going to be OK?”

And I was so relieved to finally reach him, to finally hear his voice again… only to have the same ending… realizing that he wasn’t just somewhere else, he hadn’t left me, he really had died and he really was gone.

I only had one dream about my brother. In the same sense, I recall wondering where he had been and was relieved to find him again. He was his happy self, together we relaxed and had a nice visit. Upon awakening, I felt like something had shifted, he didn’t seem so lost to me. It was as if a big worry had been lifted. I could go on mourning him, but didn’t have to worry about him any longer.

The dreams happen completely organically. There’s nothing I can do to bring them on or make them last longer. I do wish they would happen more often, as I’m far from disturbed after these dreams. Mostly I want to get back to where he was, where we are together. I remember, after his mother died, John doing the same thing… he would wake up and say, “I saw Mother and was sitting with her on the pier, fishing and talking.” He would want to get back to the dream, but was so happy to have seen her again, if only in memory. I feel the same way now. They’re remarkably comforting.

“Hello. My name is A. and I’m a widow.”

Here’s what I am: My true love died on November 11, 2007. I am a widow.

Here’s what I am not: a psychiatrist, a therapist, counselor, social worker or even all that good at listening to others. Here’s why: I talk too much. I can be overbearing. I don’t always consider other people’s feelings before I blurt out what’s on my mind. I tend to be categorical, I often interrupt conversations and I love to argue.

I was 45 when John died, he was 53. We had just passed our seventeenth wedding anniversary and had been sweethearts for twenty-two years. We fell in love on a date watching Halley’s Comet pass overhead deep in the heart of Texas. John’s early death was not unexpected in the grand scheme of things. We both knew I would outlive him; his health had been precarious since he was 16. It slowly and inexorably declined year after year. But neither one of us saw death coming when it did. If you knew John, you didn’t see it coming either. Perhaps because he had been given many death sentences since he was a teenager, which he deftly sidestepped time after time. This gave him an intense drive for living which the rest of us simply take for granted. Despite his weakening physical body, his forceful presence overwhelmed any frailties. You just didn’t think anything would conquer him. But it did.

Love fades, love grows, love changes and as it turns out, love does not die. But the ones you shared it with do.

This is what I did with our shattered love when I was left behind with the broken pieces.