Some of my dreams about Sean are achingly beautiful because they are situated, almost stubbornly, in unremarkable everydayness.
And because they are visits.
When I say this out loud, concerned friends offer up condescending qualifiers:
“You mean it’s so vivid, it seems like he’s really there.”
Their inflection brings to mind slow, worried pats on the arm, head shakes, furrowed brows, “bless your heart”s and “You poor thing”s.
There, there, now.
But I assure you, reader, he’s really there. I’m sad but I am not crazy.
Hear me out, okay? When the capricious cosmos suddenly nabs dearly Beloveds from unsuspecting saps like me, I think it feels a teensy bit remorseful. Who’s to say the Great Universe is above such a pedestrian emotion? Who’s to say the Great Universe is not super Zeus-ish? Anyway, I believe momentarily-guilt-ridden Zeus(ish) throws the Griever one crumb of consolation—a finite allotment of visits with the Beloved.
Yes, the visits are always ushered in through a gossamer backdoor, encapsulated in the milkiness of dreams, but every Griever knows the difference between a dream and a visit.
Sometimes Sean comes to me just to wander through the aisles at Home Depot, buy a few plants for the yard, and wheel the cart through the parking lot, laughing and taking bets on which ones are actually going to make it more than a month or two. Sometimes he comes back to stand in line with me and order bagels and coffee at that overcrowded place in Manhattan, or to drive down Mokulele Highway, past the defunct Sugarmill, and take my hand, bring it to his lips, then hold it to his heart as we drive and sing along to some stupid old song. Just like always.
My impulse is to say the joy I feel during these visits is indescribable, but that would be a cop out.
When the dream is a visit, my chest and gut vibrate, and my whole body feels as if it’s filled with a specific type of light—the light buried deep inside an infinite blanket of undisturbed snow, equal parts white and prismatic, pushing its way out so we know it exists, but disappearing the minute we start to dig. The dreams fill my cells with warm, soft, unadulterated adoration. I diffuse into these simultaneous sensations. Afterwards, when I wander back into this life, this place, I wonder if that’s what the Magi felt, after journeying through the desert following a star, when they finally saw a newborn lying in a bunch of straw, amidst the livestock and the poop, bathed in a glow they had never seen before. Is this what the Buddha diffused into, after sitting for days on end under the Bodhi Tree—no eating, no drinking, no speaking, no thinking, just breathing?
Vibration, warmth, light, love. Is that really all there is?
I know that’s what Sean has come back to share—that there’s this thing, it’s the only thing that’s real, the only thing that’s there when everything else is stripped away.
And also to issue a silent imperative.
Let go. Let go. Let go. Let go.
But my longing to make sure he is real, that he’s really physically with me—here, now—is too much. I always do it. I reach out and touch his arm, his hand, his face. I always have to inform him that he died, and I always tell him I want to show him to someone else so it will all be true. I always have to go and ask him if this time he will please, please stay forever. And he always looks at me, glad for my joy, but a little sad that I still don’t get it.
He can not stay. Things are different now.
“I’m here because you asked me to be, and I will keep coming back, but…
And then the look—lopsided, wistful grin, soft, sad eyes. A look that says so many things.
I love you.
I can’t stay.
I don’t want to stay.
I want you to be okay.
In one dream I told him, “This will be enough,” as if I was making a bargain with him, spinning the whole thing my own selfish way.
If you just keep visiting and I can touch you every so often that just might be enough to keep me going. Because, you know, it’s really about me, right?
I know I’m being obstinate. I know the truth (the TRUTH) is so much larger than my love for him, so much deeper than any bottomless well of wanting. The TRUTH is about suffering and grace and the boundlessness of mercy.
But I’m just not there yet.
Right now all I want is to touch his cheek. All I want is to be sitting in the truck next to him and for him to grab my hand and kiss it and hold it to his heart while we drive to Target to pick up t-shirts and string cheese and a charger and an inner tube for Jackson’s bike.