autumn days

Friday, February 24, 2017

Playing In Dreams

About two months after M died, I had a dream of him.  I was looking down at our children playing at my feet and looked up to see M turn and walk away.  The image was too brief to see his face.  He has been gone now for 16 weeks, a short enough time for me to still be counting weeks.  Even now I can only access videos of two weeks after we met and the last two weeks of his life.

In the weeks before he died, I saw the clock almost twice every day show me numbers that reminded me of when M and I first met and fell in love.  In those moments of numerical assistance I reminded myself to recall the love we shared in the beginning, the lightness and playfulness we shared with one another.  In the last two weeks I've begun to see these numbers again.

A few weeks ago I began to meditate in deeper ways, while also asking to see more of M.  I finally got to see him in a dream.  In this dream, our children were again playing nearby in the woods by a creek.  M and I watched our children play from inside the dim house.  I got to hug M, to feel his skin, to smell him.  I could almost hear his voice.  There was a tattoo across the entirety of his bare chest.  I imagined it would be an image from his favorite sports team.  To my surprise, it was a cowboy on a bucking bronco.  One hand was holding the cowboy hat down while the other held a circling lasso over his head.

I awoke and laughed at the absurdity of the tattoo image, at the relief at finally seeing him again.  My M was never a fan of horses, rodeos, or the Wild West.  What was he doing with a bucking bronco on his chest?!  Each week I translate another layer of meaning from the tattoo.  At first I thought the dream was suggesting I go to a rodeo.  Then a neighbor told me the tattoo sounded like a university mascot that had the same initials as my M's favorite team.  Last week I explained the dream to my masseuse.  He helped me remember how I swooned when M wore a cowboy hat.  He helped me see the tattoo as a reminder of M's playfulness.  The people I now draw into my life are playful.  M used to be quite playful with me.  In the density of our lives, I had really missed that humor.  This tattoo helps me remember the playfulness that drew me to M.  

Now I get to rewrite my story by intentionally recalling playful memories.  The silly jokes.  "We are going to the nose farm... to pick noses!"  In our early days, he would talk with me on the telephone for hours until he worked all the different angles of reason to have a date with him that same night.  His pickup lines were timely and hilarious.  His favorite Spanish phrases were: Hoy es miercoles! (Today is Wednesday!... every day of the week), De donde es el bano? (From where is the bathroom?), and creative Spanglish like "closeto".  That man had me in stitches laughing so hard during labor with our third baby that I could no longer feel contractions and could hardly breath.

He was especially playful with our children.  He pretended his hands were named Handy and Lefty in order to brush our daughter's teeth.  His feet were named Footy and Righty and sometimes tried to brush teeth too.  In Berenstain Bear books, M's Papa Bear voice was often quite high and squeaky, while Mama Bear's voice was baritone.  He read happy stories in sad voices, so each night our daughter shouted, "It's a HAPPY story!"  He spontaneously told complete and silly stories for our children on long walks.  With other's children he had running jokes he would bring up each time we saw them.  He pretended their favorite objects were his and that he had forgotten to take it home the last time we visited.  He was a silly child-magnet.

In going through M's mother's seven boxes of family photos, I found so many playful photos of M.  I've been hanging my favorites on all the kitchen cupboards.  One is of M at a table of all Asian people; M has his arm playfully around a little Caucasian boy who is obviously not a part of their group.  Another is M wearing his mother's fancy coat, her arms wrapped tightly around him.  In most pictures of M and his mother, they are leaning together, cuddling up in the ways that comfort parents and children.  One of my favorites is of a toddler around the age of our youngest child, his arms wrapped firmly around his mother's face; she is unable to see, yet her smile is luminescent.  This is my M with the first great love of his life.  I am privileged to get to be one of his great loves, to have known the depths of his playful spirit.  

I miss my M so deeply, as I always will.  It brings me comfort to be able to hold onto him in these ways.  Photos in the kitchen, chest tattoos dreams, remembering the laughter and lightness of our time together, and the gift of getting to raising our beloved children.  It's a HAPPY story!

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