(PadLo is ready to hit it!)
I've only had a handful of dreams about Ken since he died--and against all my hopes, they didn't start until the last couple of months. I suspect my subconscious knew I wasn't ready. My remembrances of the few dreams have been non-specific. Sometimes when I crawl into my flannel sheets at night I whisper to the empty spot on his side of the bed "I hope I dream of you tonight."
This was the case the other night. Right before bed I'd been thinking about our (it feels weird to write "my") annual Christmas card. Up until last year, we created the cards ourselves from concept to post office. We'd sip martinis in our back yard on balmy nights in June or July and begin brainstorming ideas. Though I toyed with the idea of creating a card for this Christmas, I knew it was wiser to purchase them, taking some unnecessary pressure off what I knew would already be a challenging holiday season. I went through photos of Christmases past. Of course it was tinged with a little sadness, but it also bathed me in some wonderful memories.
After I'd gone to bed and expressed my hope, I turned over--my back against his side of his bed. As I was drifting off I felt a gentle tap on my side. Nothing alarming. I didn't even flinch. I don't know what it really was. Did I do it? Or did he? Whatever the case, it was comforting and I continued on my journey to sleep. Though that had never happened before, I had experienced smelling his scent once as well as Q's one day in the car. Some things aren't worth questioning.
The next morning when my alarm went off I snoozed it as usual a couple of times. It was drifing in and out of dream state when I heard Ken's melodious voice calling to me from the living room. Again, it wasn't alarming, but it was surprising. I knew it was impossible, but I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. When I walked out into our dream living room I dragged the quilt from the bed behind me. Ken was lying on the couch. I asked him if he'd been cold sleeping on the couch. His face was angelic and sweet. He didn't open his eyes as he shook his head--that he hadn't been cold--he grinned knowingly and opened his arms for me cozy up next to him. I nestled in next to him, pulling the quilt over us.
Then the alarm went off again--yanking me away from him. I woke up heartbroken. It HAD to be one of those dreams that I remembered in technicolor detail. The joy of dreaming of him and seeing him was eclipsed by the illusion of it all--that was waking up without him and without my head buried in the between his shoulder and cheek. I was "off" for several days following and just today felt I should share the story with miring myself down in sadness. I put my work aside for a while and thought about what had happened and acknowledged the complex cocktail of emotions.
I'm grateful for such a vivid dream, but on the eve of the holiday season--when emotional volumes are turned up normally--it serves as a cautionary tale that grief won't take a holiday. I'll continue to navigate the gauntlet while working and pursuing my goals and entertaining welcome distractions and dealing with my emotions while trying to regain equilibrium. It's like learning to juggle while maintaining balance on a seesaw.
As difficult as the holidays will prove to be I'm still looking forward to them as much as it's a part of who I m and who Ken and I were together. Learning to celebrate what knowing him and loving him has given me rather then celebrating with him in the flesh isn't an impossible task, but one that will take some time and some skill to achieve. On the brighter side, I spent last weekend with my family celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary and head off soon to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with Ken's family (just as much "my" family, and differentiated only for the reader's understanding), as well as get in some quality time with a couple of close friends.
With my best "ken-do" attitude, I'll take it one day at a time, and try to focus on spending time with those I love--and be grateful for it.
You'll be the first to know if it goes in a "different" direction.