I had a vivid dream last night. About Tim. One of the few I’ve had of him since he died.
Once a week, my parents take my children for an overnight. I use that night to socialize and clean, but mostly to sleep. To sleep until my body tells me it is time to wake. The kind of deep, refreshing sleep mothers are rarely afforded. It is a gift and a privilege I appreciate deeply.
I can only clearly remember three dreams in which Tim appeared in my subconscious since his death. This dream felt life-like. To the point that when I woke up, it took me a full 30 minutes to process the sudden drop in my stomach that occurred when I realized that the dream was not my reality. In my dream, it was Summer. We were in a vacation rental with family and friends and a wide assortment of people I’m sure I’ve never met. The sun was bright and warm, I could step barefoot out the sliding screen door onto soft grass. Children were running wild, joyful in their freedom. And Tim was alive. Not only was he alive, he had returned to life. At some point in the early stages of loss, the terrible misunderstanding had been corrected, and Tim was, indeed ALIVE. He looked healthy. He was happy and content. He was free of the anxiety that sometimes plagued him. He was my Tim, his voice, his scent, his face with a small smile adorning the edges of his mouth and bright eyes filled with curiosity and love.
We spent the entire dream talking. Talking about the heart attack, his hospitalization, his death, what he wanted with his new life. Everything he may have felt and thought in that time. All of the things I have ached to ask him, snuggled in him arms in a comfortable, sunlit room. In dream time, it was hours, maybe days that I spent with him. Just enjoying his company and feeling the sensation of happiness, lightness, security, that have eluded me since that Monday night in Brooklyn. Feeling loved.
It’s the loss of Tim’s love that has been the most difficult for me to process in the 21 months that have passed since he left this realm. While I continue to feel love for him, it is an unrequited hollowness that I carry in my core. I can feel grateful for what I had. 12 years of love and connection to my person. But the sudden loss of that love, that resonance and comfort, ripped away the illusions that many seem to effortlessly carry with them through the world. I’m one of the broken people now. And that might not necessarily be a bad thing. It’s made me a much better therapist. It’s given me that edge I longed for as an adolescent. I’m stronger in myself and my own power than I ever thought imaginable. I’m kind of a bad-ass bitch, if I do say so myself. But, oh, does it sting.
I was told early in the grief process that I would have no difficulty finding another love. It’s a well-meaning encouragement I can imagine myself telling someone else in another life. I was not offended to hear it, but I’m not quite sure I believe it. I’m a naturally loving person with giant steel walls barricading some deep part of myself. I’d gladly sell the blueprints and materials to the US Government. They are not easily broached.
Love is a risk. Human connection, while vital to our survival, brings the terrifying threat of future hurt. While I may be partially dead inside, there is a good part of me that is growing and thriving in beautiful ways. I’m not sure I can risk the destruction that this garden I’m cultivating.
But does that mindset benefit the person I strive to be? Probably not. While the possibility of dying alone in Hopewell House, surrounded by beautiful things and the many cats I will likely adopt once my children are grown, it not the worst demise I can imagine, it’s not necessarily the end I would like to see to my life.
Time will tell.
My dream of Tim allowed me to exist in the alternate reality I have fantasized about since it ended. It felt freeing to feel that brand of hope and happiness flooding my system. The innocence of an existence in which everything works out as you had hoped.
This morning brings a grief hangover. The biting harshness of a pre-dawn January morning. The reminder of just how alone I truly feel without him. It exposes the walls I have built up around myself. The layers of protective materials, reinforced with trauma and fear. But it allows me to see how and why the walls were constructed. To get up-close and personal with these towering barricades that protect and isolate my heart. My inner-therapist sees this as a good thing. An opportunity. My inner-human is pissed.
It may be time to start working on these walls. Chipping away to expose their weaknesses. They are not very good for my environment and create a hazard for the humans that may attempt to circumvent their boundaries. They are built with fear and pain. They may or may not truly be serving me in my path forward.
I don’t really believe in walls anyway.