Thursday, August 16, 2007

Bad Dreams

Hi, my love,

I was going to tell you about our camping trip--and I will, I promise--but first I need to check with you about something.

I just awoke from two different bad dreams. Fortunately for you, I don't remember the first one. But the second was one of those that leaves a really bad feeling, the kind that lingers all day as the vague feeling that you've forgotten something terrible that's happened and are just about to remember.

In my dream, you were still sick, and very, very thin. You were mysteriously and not entirely happily outliving your prognosis; no one could tell why, or how long it might last.* You were telling me that while I was working, you had developed a new life, with new friends, and that you were going to leave me. I was angry. I was hurt. I begged you to tell me it wasn't true--that you loved our life together as much as I did. [For some reason, in that strange counter-logic of dreams, we were having this conversation in three different locations: a bedroom we never actually had; a gigantic thrift store in which our conversation was periodically interrupted by my selection of a tchotchke; and the front seat of your car. These locations appeared and disappeared throughout the conversation, as happens in dreams. There was also a period where we were driving through the thrift store in the car, while people pilfered things from our open trunk, but that seems beside the point, and it's too hard to explain the logistics of a dream.] But you insisted that you had new friends now--including a single mother named, as I recall, "Tanya." And that you had been living a whole separate life--nothing illicit, but unknown to me. I couldn't believe that after all our work to save you (even though, in the dream, you were less "saved" than enduring a kind of perpetual-cancer state), you were telling me that you didn't love me, and that only now could you tell me. And that you would be moving out, eventually. And that you had purchased a small white VW beetle (the old kind). [It was this last part that really got me; you loved those cars. It made the rest of the dream seem more real.]

And now I'm awake, and feeling shaky and doubtful, and wishing you were here to help me realize it was just a dream.

I find myself doubting my version of our life together, now that it exists only in my memory and in the sound-bytes I trot out for my friends: "My husband used to.... He was....He liked....He once said...." I feel responsible for keeping you around and on people's minds, as if that could give your life more meaning. (Presumptuous of me. You gave your life plenty of meaning). But I feel less and less sure of myself as the keeper of your flame. Did it all mean what I think it did? Why is it left to me to tell your story? And what if I get it wrong?

You did love me, right? And our life together, short as it was?

Please tell me this is all just a bad dream.

I love you,

your wife

*For some reason, almost all of my dreams about you take place in this not-quite-happy imagined future, with you in this not-really-cured state.

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At 9:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your husband adored you, your daughter, and your life together. I'm not sure how long you were together but I get the impression it was for nine years or so? Not nearly enough time, but still quite long enough for him to have made up his mind about you. Clearly, he loved you.

Bad dreams are just the way our unconscious minds purge thoughts our conscious minds try to avoid. But rarely are these dreams realistic or prophetic in nature, our unconscious prefers symbolism.

This is going to sound like cheap psychology, and very presumptuous because I don't know either of you personally, but my guess is that what you fear is that you are somehow getting his story wrong and that this somehow detracts, takes away from the wonderful person he was.

I've read what you've written about your life being largely filled with people who only know of Mr. D through you, perhaps this is exacerbating it? Alternately, perhaps this is a reaction against that terrible 'fading' which comes after the death of a loved one -- where you suddenly realize their beloved outlines are becoming fuzzier :(

I'm so sorry your husband isn't there to tell you this was just a bad dream. For what comfort there is in hearing it from a total stranger -- it was just a bad dream.


At 11:06 AM , Blogger Yankee T said...

Oh dear, Dorcasina, while I know that his actual death was the worst nightmare of all, this just sounds so profoundly sad. I am so sorry. No amount of reassurance on the part of a stranger in cyberspace can help, I'm sure, but I feel certain he adored you and you were never wrong about how you thought he felt.
I am so sorry, no less today than in 2005.
Sending big hugs.

At 2:25 PM , Anonymous Mme X said...

Like he loved life itself, darling. A woman who loved him, fought with him, fought for him, who enriched his world as he enriched hers and who showed him, as he showed you, that he could have, finally a family who really, really got him-- and who knew he was everything.

What a cruel, cruel dream. I'm so sorry, honey.

At 7:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate bad dreams of loved ones who have died, I cannot begin to feel how much more difficult it would be to be your about one's spouse.....I'm sorry it was so tough. Like others have said, from what you've written, I've no doubt he loved you and your daughter with all his heart and soul. From what I've read here by you, and I'm certain others would agree, he was an amazing person, with such a knack at understanding and loving you.

Better dreams ahead.

At 7:50 AM , Blogger Portia said...

what a trick for your mind to play right now. i imagine it is terribly hard to shake. i'm so sorry.

hugs to you and little miss fancy pants!

At 8:09 AM , Blogger Mojavua said...

I stumbled upon your blog last month as I was inserting references in a paper I'd just finished and blanking on whether "et al." had a period or not. I googled it, and there you were.

I've really been enjoying reading your thoughts on your husband and your daughter; I can relate partly to the former, and only second-hand to the latter.

My mother died of cancer a year ago(at 57). In philosophy/psychology (or in life, I should say), there's something called the peak-end rule: we remember the best parts and the last parts of experiences, events, people. Despite my best efforts to conjure up my best memories of my mom, she's been sick in all my dreams, so this entry of yours really struck a chord.

I look forward to seeing the "peak" part of the rule come to life, as I'm sure you do. Chin up!

At 11:08 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

Thanks to all of you. Your words, anonymous, or, in some cases, pseudonymous, help more than you know. The dream and its miasma are fading...
I don't say it often enough, but I do feel truly blessed by my stalwart little community of readers and commenters--

At 12:03 PM , Blogger Jolene said...

I don't comment as often as I want to either but just know you have another virtual friend out here hurting with you, as I do for Snickolett. I'm so sorry about your nightmare but for what it's worth, I'm sure your husband loved you more than anything. I'm so sorry for your loss.

At 2:21 PM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

I think you are right--I feel as though I am not doing justice to who and what he was. On the other hand, how can *any* set of memories, anecdotes, and adjectives do justice to the whole person? Maybe that's the ultimate sadness of grief--that the person will fade, no matter what you do to keep him "alive," I watch films where characters say things like, "She'll always live in your heart," which is true, but so very, very inadequate compared to what someone is and what their life means.

mojavua, you give me hope--maybe I can look forward to those "peak" memories ascending.

Mme X., you know I love you.

Jolene, Welcome, and thank you.

At 10:23 AM , Anonymous Liz said...

Others have already left very eloquent comments, and I think anonymous's analysis is excellent. I just want to say that I'm so sorry you had this dream. It sounds so awful and sad and psychologically draining. From reading your blog, I get such a strong sense of the love between you and your husband, so I know the dream does not mirror reality. Hang in there.

At 11:37 AM , Anonymous said...

The following is a a post I made in Snickolett's Blog. I found you'rs by accident, and her's through your's.... I wanted to share the same w/you.

Post to Snickollet:

I just read your post of Aug 10.

I am a 46 yr old Div'd man, who's three teenage treasures live w/ their Mom. I work in const, and am away for wks, and Mo's at a time. The sep's are terrible, but finances nessecitate. How I wish I could be w/ them more....

You wonder if daily, mundane, Mothering your twins might not be interesting. When you described giving your daughter a bath in the kitchen sink, you took me right back to memories I had long forgotten. My Mother used to give me bathes in the kitchen sink. It was an old fashoned, single, wide, white enamel, that had faucets that stuck out of the wall, rather than coming up from the back. When we were really little, my younger Bro and I would share the sink, and Mom would make bubbles.

As I read your post, I rememberd the old radio that rested on the side counter, and some of the old tunes came rushing back into my head. I can smell the kithchen smells, and the smell of Mom. She wore Hawaiian White Ginger, or, White Lilac perfume in those days.

Mom is red headed, of Irish decent, with blue eyes. And while I have Brwn hr and eyes, like Dad, Two of my Bro's have red hair, and my oldest boy has her red hair too.

Mom is 72, widowed, and the red is all gone now. I spent some time w/ her yesterday, and still find her as interesting as I did as a child.

Today, you sent me back to when she was young,very pretty, full of fun, and just My Mom.

What I'm getting at w/ all of this, is that nothing you do as a Mother is mundane. I'm sure Mom never thought in a million yrs that we would remember those kitchen sink baths, or that she thought of them much at all. They were just anouther in a long list of mundane things she did as a Mother, and housewife in the early 60's. But I do remember, thanks to you, and the feelings the memories evoke are warm, and full of the assurance that I was cared for, and loved. What child could ask for more?

I know your's won't ( well, maybe when they are teenagers!! )

You are the greatest blessing of their lives.

Let me share another Mother's blessing. when I was a kid, I would watch Mom as she folded and ironed our clothes, and would marvel as she would smile, and look so pleased at something that I didn't understand. After all, who could find pleasure is so non ending a task as laundry?!!

After mine were born, and I found myself helping w/ the laundry, I found my self one day folding clothes. The kids were small, and as I picked out, and folded their things, I found myself smiling, and giving the folded clothes and extra pat just like Mom had done, and then; Epiphany! I suddenly knew what Mom had been doing all of those years to pass the time ironing, and folding! She was thinking of the person who's clothes she was tending!

Now, when I think back to the look of pleaaure that used to pass accross her face, I am so gratefull that we meant so much to her, and that we kids werent the only ones blessed by being a part of her family.

I intentionally have not made mention of Dad, for your benefit. I want you to know of the impact you are making as MOM. It is priceless. It is endless. And your Children are so blessed.

May God bless you too.

At 12:26 PM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

I only very recently had a dream with my Mom in it where she looked 'normal'. In every other dream she still looked the way she did with cancer, and it's been 10 years.

I used to get so mad when she would show up in the dream and say that she'd been alive this whole time, I just hadn't realized it. I would get so freaked out that I would have to go through grieving for her AGAIN.

I wondered as I read the dream if part of you is freaked out that he may have a life beyond yours now? I don't know if that makes any sense.

At 7:41 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

Reading this took me back to shortly after my husband died. I dreamed that he was back from the hospital (which he never left in the real world) and that he and I knew he was going to die shortly, but no one else knew it. We went to the store, drove in the car, talked on the porch of our house. And yes, it left a strange feeling all day -- and I can recall that odd sense of not being totally sure of what was real and not twenty years later, so these dreams are vivid beyond measure, but I think common.

Glad that the feeling is fading...

At 8:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been wondering for days whether or not to tell you of a dream I had that involved you. I just lurk here. I don't want to say anything that might cause you more pain though this wasn't a bad dream at all.

I read what you wrote here and I felt so bad for you, and a couple of nights later I had this dream. I was in a store my grandmother used to own and I had my computer there and I was looking at your site. A very tall, handsome Nordic looking guy with piercing blue eyes came over to pay for whatever he was buying and he saw it. He said "Oh, that's my wife" and I said "But I thought you were dead." He just smiled at that, and then I asked him if he wanted to leave you a message, write something on your site and he smiled again and said "Not now. I want to but I can't, it's not time and she wouldn't recognize me right now. But I'll be in touch with her and Katie and everyone when the time is right". And then he walked out.

That was all I remember of it, I think there may have been a little more but that was the important part. I remember feeling when we were talking that he wanted to write a message but couldn't and the way he was smiling when he talked about you I can't imagine for a minute he didn't still love you very much.

I hope and pray this isn't painful to read, you can delete it right away if it is, and I don't normally go around leaving weird comments on stranger's blogs. But I felt like I had to share this. I agree with everyone else that you just had a bad dream I hope this good dream helps make up for it.


At 10:54 AM , Blogger Snickollet said...


I read this post the day you put it up but have not known what to say and have thus not commented.

I still don't know what to say.

I'm sure your husband loved you and your daughter and your life together. But I know that feeling of doubt. Lately I wonder all the time about whether or not I romanticize my life with John, if it was not as good as it was in my memory. The only memories that seem real to me are the ones in which John is sick; the ones when he was healthy and we were so happy seem made-up. Could things really have been so wonderful?

I have yet to have a dream about John.

See how I have nothing of substance to say?

Thinking of you, as always. Tell us about the camping trip, too, if you have time. I thought you didn't do camping?!


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