Dreams of my father
When I was seventeen, my father passed away from pancreatic cancer. Being a fairly ferocious form of cancers, there was really only a short amount of time between his diagnosis and his passing. He died just a few days before I hit that teenage milestone of turning 18, becoming an adult. Shortly after my birthday, came Thanksgiving, the first without him at the table. Then Christmas, Father’s Day, and then the day that I graduated from high school. Those first few celebrations and holidays without him were so different than the years before. Being young, I still had questions about him, his life, family members and friends that I didn’t even know he had before I met them at his funeral.
There was so much that I didn’t about him, that I never knew to ask until he was gone. There was a lot about his cancer that I didn’t know. What does it feel like to have cancer? Does your body feel any different? What does chemo feels like when it goes into your body? What do you dream about, knowing that fairly soon you will leave this world and everything you’ve ever know,n everyone you’ve ever loved, everything you’ve ever accomplished…behind? Those questions and so many others ran through my 18 year old mind so very often.
In hindsight, I probably should have sought grief counseling. I didn’t really talk about his death a whole lot. In typical teenage fashion, I held it in. I held in so strongly that my dreams began manifesting my father. Dreams of walking home at night from a friends house and coming home to see the light over his easy chair turned on. That light… his chair… were rarely used after he passed. I would come home and see the light on, but he wouldn’t be sitting in his chair. For that brief moment in my dream, I would remember that he was gone. But then I would walk through the house, into the kitchen and find him slowly swaying to James Taylor like he loved to do. He was back in our house, our family and lives.
But then I would wake up, and remember that he wasn’t downstairs in his chair… or the kitchen. The dreams would bring this cloud of grief with them. They began to wear on me, and eventually they just stopped all together.
I went on to college and quickly encountered all the trials of living on your own, away from your family, trying to make it through college, and having to deal with the grief of losing a loved one all at the same time. One night, the questions that had surrounded the last year of my life without my father came spilling out of me. In my dark room I wrote my father a letter.
I told him what was going on in my life. Said I hoped I was making him proud. I was trying so hard to, and hoped that he knew it. I finally asked all the big questions.
Are you still in pain?
Are you happy?
Are you proud of me?
I hope you’re better now, cancer no longer ripping through your body.
I finished the letter, folded it up, stuck it in my desk, went to sleep and quickly forgot about the letter all together.
A few weeks went by, and trials of life kept coming. I was really missing my father’s presence. One night, Mallory, my best friend called. I could tell immediately that she was shaken. She said that she hadn’t wanted to tell me what she was about to. She thought it would hurt me more than help, but her mother had urged her to call me and tell me these things. They were important.
“I had a dream last night,” she said, “about your parents.”
“I came home and your dad was sitting on the couch, and your mom was in the chair next to him. I started to speak to your dad and your mom said “Honey, I’m over here…who are you talking to??”
I looked over at your dad, and he motioned to her, to make me talk to your mom.
Your mom and I talked for a while, and she left shortly after. Then…your dad said that she didn’t know he was there, she couldn’t see him. but he was here to talk to me.” Mallory said.
“He said I had to tell you some things.
He said he’s fine now.
He wants to quit worrying about him, because he’s happy.
He’s not in pain.
He’s in a good place where he can see all the things you’re doing and is so proud of you.”
I started crying immediately when I remember the letter that I had written. In this dream, where my father came to my best friend, he answered all of the questions that I knew were so important. To know that he was fine, and wasn’t in pain, and was proud of me.
My friend’s mom got on the phone a moment later. She said “Honey, your dad obviously came to Mallory because you’re shutting him out. Open up your dreams, he’s trying to come to you, but this time he made sure to speak with your best friend, a person he knows you trust. Open up, baby.”
After that, I started talking about my father more. It brought me a lot of closure to be able to talk about him, remembering all the amazing times we had. And sure enough, I started dreaming again. Dreaming of dancing with him in the kitchen of our home.