Around 5:45am one morning last week, I woke up and reached out for Tim. I found his shoulder, felt his warmth, and started crying. He was alive and everything I had just been living, was just a dream.
That dream usurped my day. I had a training session a few hours later and I was totally dragging. My fatigue was partially from lack of sleep, but mostly - and the feminist in me hates to say this - I just felt FRAGILE. Even now, as I'm finally finishing this post... I'm emotional. Blech.
This was one of those dreams. You know... THOSE dreams. The kind that you're convinced is really happening to you, even for a few seconds after you wake up. Unfortunately, it's never easy to recount dreams because while they feel so real in the moment, the little clips and flashes you remember when you wake up... don't.
Tim had died. He was in a car accident and died at the scene. I remember exactly how it felt to get that phone call. To have someone tell me I had just lost the most important person on earth. I remember the disbelief, the shock, the agony that sets in as you accept the truth. I remember thinking about our last conversation, how I had flirtatiously hugged him and said "I like you today." Lastly, I remember standing in a long room with a high glass ceiling and mountains outside, with Tim's family and my parents making the burial arrangements. I wanted Tim to be an organ donor. I wanted him to be cremated, as we had discussed. Then I realized I couldn't afford that, but everyone reassured me they would make it happen. We talked about what a good person he was, how much we would miss him, how unfair it was this happened. And I made some ridiculous comment about how now I knew "what it felt like to be an army wife." What? (I think I meant "a young widow.") And then I let my mom hold me while I fell apart.
I have never had a dream knock me sideways like this one did, and I'm a pretty consistent dreamer. Not only did I wake up and start crying when I realized it hadn't really happened, but I couldn't stop crying after that. It was too real. It was too frightening. Tim quickly rolled over and asked me what was wrong. As he often does when I'm upset, he put Oscar right up next to me to calm me down. He listened to the few choked sentences I could get out, ending with,
"I felt like it was never going to end."
To which Tim replied, "Well, I felt like my dream was never going to end, too. I was in a flea market."
I sort of sniff-laughed. "Maybe it was your purgatory."
"I know it was, because Zach was there and he wouldn't stop talking." (Zach is a really annoying co-worker Tim complains about constantly.)
"It was so real though... I'm so sad." I started crying again.
"Well, you know what Bob Dylan said...'dreams are in our heads.'"
"And also...'I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.'"
"I have to blow my nose."
Leave it to Tim to quote Bob Dylan for comfort. I stayed awake another hour or so, afraid that if I fell back asleep too quickly, the dream might reemerge. I went to my morning training session. I struggled. I cried on the phone to my mother. I wasn't really moving past it.
In retrospect, I'm really glad this happened. You realize in the face of grief how much someone or something means to you. I got to experience that without actually losing anyone. It was rather like A Christmas Carol and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. It was a reminder: to value, to appreciate, to express my love. I could not wait for Tim to get home from work that day. I couldn't wait to be able to touch him and hug him. Okay, I was clingy. So what. This isn't a feeling or a memory that has quickly gone away.
But, I suppose, maybe that's a good thing.