I woke up at 7:30 Monday morning to the sound of my phone vibrating. The caller ID said "Dad" and I knew exactly why he was calling me at that hour in the morning. I knew even more because of the dream from which I was awakened.
I did not know exactly why he was calling me. It turns out he was on his way to Boston and had "butt dialed" me, as they say. However, the sight of his name on my phone and the dream I just had was enough for me to stumble out of bed and curse, making it to the bathroom just in time to let my tears fall. I don't think I hid my crying well enough from the person I was trying to hide my crying from. I really hate being that raw and vulnerable in front of people. For some reason though, he had the right response when I climbed back into bed of not making me talk about it. I like that he doesn't pry for details and lets me contribute information on my own.
But, despite being able to find solace in a few more minutes of sleep and then a day filled with glorious distraction, I was not distracted enough from my dream. I thought about it while I was sorting through receipts and various pieces of paper with drawings and notes. I thought about it eating one of the best veggie burgers I've ever had. I thought about it the entire 6 hour drive back to snowy Pittsburgh. I thought about it when I stopped in Johnstown to grocery shop because I knew all the stores in Pittsburgh were depleted from panicked people stocking up for the storm. Most of all, I thought about it last night when I was trying to fall asleep again, begging the heavens that I would have no more dreams.
Sometimes I hate that I have such vivid, prophetic dreams. Why is this the way God chooses to communicate with me? Why must I struggle with finding the meaning to these meaningful visions? But, I will not be going to dreams.com to find the interpretation to this dream...I know all too well what it means:
I think that in some way, my soul left my body and I was actually at the ocean. The feel of the sand under my feet and the smell of the salt was so palpable. And there she was. Like she always used to be. That ridiculous old-lady bathing suit with the skirt, her bosom popping out of it and her thick Italian accent carrying down the beach. I could feel the lump in my throat. I could feel the tears stinging my eyes. I was in that strange dream-place where I was living completely in the moment of the dream and yet I could see reality so clearly. I knew that this image I have of her is just that...an image. A memory. A phantom of the past and what will never be again in this world.
We were sitting in a circle; all our beach chairs facing each other like an old-fashioned circling of the wagons. My entire family protecting the sanctity of our unit. It was so beautiful. The sand so white, the blue of the water in stark contrast to its white-cap bedecked waves, the sky so bright that it was blinding to look at.
And then there was darkness.
And when the cloud passed she sat there. Small. Thin. Frail. Pale. This was no image. This was reality. This is Nonna now. Skeletal. The pinched expression of pain permanently sketched on her features. A few less teeth in her mouth. Less hair that has lost its curl on her head. And she was talking. Quoting almost in a robotic way all the things that were going wrong inside her body. All her systems which the cancer was shutting down and squeezing her life away. And as she continued to talk everything began to fade until all I was really aware of was this tremendous pressure on my chest.
And then my phone rang. And that's when I realized that I am still struck to the core with the terror of reality...with not knowing whether it's better to ignore it and become numb, pretending as if the inevitable is not so, or to face it head on and stay in this state of hopeless depression.
What is the worst part about yesterday morning is that I almost wished that I really did know why my dad was calling me at that hour. At least then I will not be haunted by the knowledge of how much pain she is in and how there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Perhaps then all this panic and lostness inside will disappear and I will be able to move through the actual grief and move on and away from it. Then I would stop dreading my phone ringing and the caller ID. Then I would stop wondering every time I drive away from Buffalo, "Is this the last time?"
I'm going up this weekend snow or no snow. Will it be the last time?