and then i wake up

February 14, 2011

A week ago or so, I had the worst dream about my dad. He was alive. He hadn’t actually died in the fire two years ago, but he’d let us believe that he had. And all this time he’d been hiding from us. On purpose.

Somehow my mom  found out – maybe he finally called her or maybe she just caught wind of it. I don’t know. In my dream, it wasn’t important how she knew, just that somehow she did and she was going with me to see him because she knew where he lived. He’d moved into an apartment complex that looked pretty similar to the complex where Mom lives now.

When we pulled up Dad was getting out of this 90’s sedan, something like a Cutlass supreme from the 1990’s. This detail struck me as significant, because for so, so long my dad drove a truck. He was a carpenter, so it made sense. Anyway, in the dream, he gets out of this car, goes around to the back, opens the trunk and starts rummaging through a couple trash bags he’s using to carry around his stuff. He pulls out some clothes and puts them aside and then he holds up a couple books. And all the time I’m saying something to him like, “How could you do this to us?”  “Do you know what you put us through?” “Do you care what it was like?” But he doesn’t say anything; he just keeps pulling things out of the trash bags that he wants to take in the apartment.

Then all of the sudden Mom and I are standing inside the door of Dad’s apartment. It’s pretty bare inside, like it would be after losing so much of his stuff in the fire. There’s a couple folding chairs, some TV trays for side tables, and an open hide-a bed couch, which he immediately goes over and sits on. I look around and see there’s a few stacks of books on the floor and a couple more trash bags of  his stuff.  He starts thumbing through some books he had left sitting out on the sofa bed and I’m still talking about how I don’t get it – how he could have left us to clean up his mess. He looks up at me and shrugs his shoulders. I notice a couple bathrobes hanging from some hooks on the bedroom door and I ask him if he’s living with these two women from his church. (In real life, these are the women this insensitive priest told me were just like daughter’s to my dad.). And Dad tells me no, but they know he’s alive and they come over and check on him every few days or so.

And  then I wake up.

Ever since my dad died, I’ve wanted to dream about him. As much as I hate to admit it, deep down I’ve wanted to get some kind of sign from him that though it never seemed like it, he thought about me and my sister all the time and that he really loved us – with all his heart he loved us. He knew our birthdays and color of our eyes.

But that’s not the dream I got and the one I did dream says volumes about all this shit that is unresolved in my heart. I thought because I was able to put the shitty dad thing aside 12 years ago, so I could get to know him as a person, and because we’d had a relationship in the last 12 years, that I was over the shitty dad thing. And I’m a little shocked to find out that I’m not over it.

One of the most bittersweet things I learned about my dad after he died is that he was a really good and loyal friend and that he was cherished by people, including a step daughter. In so many ways, he gave up on ever being that to me or my sister. We never go to cherish him or be cherished by him. At last not in a pragmatic way that made any real difference in every day life. In my brain I know better than to take it personally, but it appears that my heart is not a reasonable partner to my head.

So when I talk about my dad’s death, which I do a fair amount here on my blog (a feed of which I pull into Facebook) it’s as much about trying to work through how it’s kind of fucked up to be his child, as it is about his dying. And for some reason it works for me to do it in this format.

No Comments »

leave a reply