I dream about them. My dad more so than R but, I've seen both of them.
Most of the time I just note them in passing. Duck-duck-duck-deceased family member-duck-duck--GOOSE!!
Maybe it's just because I tend to have elaborate, Busby Berkeley-type dreams. When you glimpse your dead father or daughter in a giant kickline composed of everyone you've ever met, it's hard to focus on gradations of bizarre.
Sometimes the dreams are slower and I have time to digest Dad or R's presence.
My recurrent dream is a house that looks ordinary from the outside but is full of wonders on the inside--secret, underground tunnels that lead to places I'd forgotten I loved, a private airport in the attic, a kitchen equipped with house elves. Sometimes I fly or breathe underwater. Once, I made out with Ira Glass. His giant glasses got all fogged up and he told me I was sooooo interesting. Yup...love me some Ira.
I think a lot of people probably dream about the unattainable (although I'm pretty sure I could have hit that if circumstance had brought me and Mr. Glass together at just the right time). And it feels amazing doesn't it? Not just the flying or deep sea exploration itself but, that inevitable moment of cognition when you think, "Holy shit! I can motherfucking fly!"
When I dream about Dad or R walking around whole and healthy it's indescribable. Yet, it's how I used to feel all of the time.
I've been running uphill for so long that I've forgotten what it feels like to coast along, believing that things will go according to plan, smiling in recognition at my fellow humans.
To be unencumbered.
To be free of the memory of beeping machines and disinfectant smells.
To not know what a doctor looks like when he or she is about to deliver the worst news possible.
To get riled up about money or academic achievement or anything other than disease and death.
To feel like I know something.
I listen to the news while I cook dinner and I hear people griping about government spending on entitlements and welfare abuse. I want some sort of magic mist to settle over America and make everyone feel lost and hopeless...together. How long would it take before we recognize that we have to lay aside judgment and find ways to help each other?
I wish I had some coherent solution but I just end up wanting to punch people in the face. Like, "Wake-up, asshole! You're not deserving. You're lucky." Like, "You didn't deserve that broken nose, did you? Well, there's a little taste of unlucky for you. Hope you have insurance. Hope some doctor who went to med school on the taxpayer dime is willing to help you." I wonder if I could get a grant for my little project...
I've known unlucky for almost 12 years now. And that's just a third of my life. And it's been mixed in with a healthy dose of lucky. Some people, too many people, start out unlucky and never manage to find the other side of it. I wonder what they dream about.
I can set Dad aside most of the time. Fifty-eight years of middle-class living. Hard work for sure but some results to go with it. If I could have a guarantee of 22 more years in my own home with my job and my family, I'd take it and count myself fortunate. But then I remember how he worked until he couldn't anymore because he was afraid of losing his insurance or losing access to his doctors if he went out on disability. On his last day at work he couldn't even climb the 4 stairs to get to his office. Two weeks later he was dead. He deserved better.
And R. What if she had survived NEC and open heart surgery? What if we were just wrapping up five years of oxygen tanks, feeding tubes, and 'round the clock medical care? How would we be able to work and take care of her? What would she deserve?
When I see them, whole and healthy in my dreams, it's like an out-of-body experience. Flying and breathing underwater and celebrity make-out sessions fade in the face of normal expectations fulfilled. Alive. Healthy. I am a world-killer.
I actually was a world-killer once. Maybe not the smartest or most beautiful or wealthiest but lucky enough that I didn't even recognize lucky. My world felt like something that would come when I whistled and would submit to my will. And, back then, I thought it was something that I had earned. Something that anyone could figure out if they just took the time or made the effort.
It's taken 12 years for me to realize that I was never that clever. Nobody is that clever.
So, now what?