In my dream, my family– my Mom, sister, aunt, Grams, Dad and Papa Jack (my mom’s dad who is currently hanging out in heaven with my Dad) and I were all at a restaurant, eating dinner. This is odd for a couple reasons, because I don’t think we ever ate in a restaurant with both my mom’s and dad’s sides of the family–and if we do, I don’t remember it. We often spent time with them together at our house, but such a large group usually does better ordering pizza than eating out. I had to run out to the car for some reason, and when I came back inside, they had all switched places. Just like them, they were playing a joke to see if I’d notice. I did, and as a joke back, I sat down at the table behind ours (it was empty). My Dad made some teasing joke, like he always did, and I returned to the table. The restaurant was loud, but we contributed to it with our laughter and jokes, with gentle teasing zinging across the table. We all sat around a rectangular wooden table, passing appetizers around and planning what we’d eat for the next meal. The restaurant was unremarkable, it was the moment that was special.
Papa Jack, for one, was not how he was near the end of his life, but rather how he was when I was a little kid. His booming voice, along with my favorite flannel ‘lumberjack’ shirt of his, filled the restaurant and made even the busy setting feel like home. He laughed and joked in a manner that was so real, I knew it had to be, at least a little.
My Dad had changed a little with each stroke and TIA that tried–and failed– to take him away from us. But in my dream, he was tan with a full head of black hair and a bushy mustache that he reminded my Mom needed trimming– another very real moment. He was athletically lean like he was when I was much younger, and he leaned on his elbows eagerly to tell me how excited he was about everything going on in my life. He was wearing a ratty old teal shirt we all hated, but it wasn’t ratty yet. His face was remarkably happy, as it always was when he was with his family.
It is these words and descriptions I wish I could have had the emotional strength to put into his eulogy, but they failed to come until more than a month after his death. As a writer, it can be crippling to be without the right words at the right time.
Dreams are a little piece of reality, especially when they are as real and living as the one that visited me last night. The sound of bells– my attempt at a non-jarring alarm– broke me out of my reverie, and I couldn’t help but once again briefly mourn the loss of the amazing people I’ve known. I wish my Gramps, my Dad’s dad, had also been there, but perhaps he was off visiting another family member’s dreams last night. After all, I can’t be too selfish– I did get Dad and Papa Jack.
It isn’t often we get to see people at our favorite moment in their lives. For me, the age at which my Dad and Papa Jack appeared in my dream was an age where I was gullible enough to look on the ceiling for words and vulnerable enough to admit when I needed help finding an answer. On Sunday night, as I prayed, I fell asleep while thinking I miss my Dad. I needed help with this grief. He heard me, and once again helped me climb the steep hill, putting me on his shoulders so I could see the most incredibly view.