Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The end of my dream.

I’ve lost a day or two. Life has been unusually stressful, and I’ve regressed – found ways to distract myself from things that (urgently) need doing. In the mean time – mom’s chemotherapy (insulin-potentiated – lower doses of the same drugs, but not covered by insurance or Medicare, because it’s “experimental”) has left her so anemic her doc is urgently pressing for a blood transfusion. (She refuses – doesn’t trust the blood supply. We might be able to talk her into family donations, once we all figure out what our blood types are.)

So, I’ve been finding increasingly creative ways to keep from doing my work, but still not sleeping much, of course. And tonight I fell asleep in front of my computer.

And had a prolonged dream – I remember it was so vivid (that’s the nicotine patches giving a shout-out I’m sure – the damn things really throw slumberland into Technicolor). I can’t remember most of it, except it’s intensity.

But I remember the end of my dream. I’m leaving my house – not the one I just moved out of, or the one I just moved into, but the one we lived in before; The one where the memories were good - twelve or thirteen years of good memories. We were usually broke, and we faced real challenges – my daughter’s infant health problems, the years of fertility treatments, the majority of my graduate school. But we had good times, too – my wife and I playing “Mickey’s World of Illusion” until late into the night, after we’d bought the Genesis for my son, or the Canasta marathons, or twelve thousand showings of The Brave Little Toaster, my son’s favorite movie.

My wife threw me a surprise birthday party in that house once – invited my faculty mentors, my friends from graduate school, and my family. She threw some Halloween parties there too – games for the kids and their parents (like, donuts hanging from the ceiling, and couples vying to be first to eat theirs – with their hands ties behind their back). I miss her, the way she was back then. I miss her air of openness, and innocence, and playfulness.

But that was before the hardest years – the years when she was missing, much of the time. I’d get the call from my son, first once or twice a week, then every day, and later, her absence was communicated in silent commentary. First she’d call and say she was on her way home (but never arrive), then she’d say she was going out for “ a little while”, and later, she quit calling altogether. I remember sitting with my son, in the cab of the U-haul truck, after we’d moved her into an apartment, saying “She’s excited” with a confused, hurt look on his face.

I remember how he resisted, when she asked to come home again. I was more conflicted, but I was also afraid she’d be dead soon, if I didn’t take her back. I remember how hard it was to try to put all of the hurt behind us, and heal the parts of our relationship that’d suffered so much. And I remembered how it felt, when she projected base motives on my attempts to reconcile, and my gradual acquiescence into the role of a eunuch martyr – no wants, no desires, and no real self.

The end of my dream: I’m leaving my house, in the afternoon. My wife is sad, but not talking about it much. My daughter is out back, sitting on a hammock we never had, acting peculiarly calm, but with that sadness I can always feel under the surface. I play the father role, saying goodbye to her – telling her I’ll miss her, but that I’ll be seeing her often. And I maintain it until I get around the hedge (which I tore out about our third year there – replaced with a chain-link fence I put up myself), and as I approached my car, I started to sob – quietly, at first, but then louder. I couldn’t stop. I just kept sobbing until I woke up.

That’s what I’ve been running away from this last two days – God, I miss her, my beautiful, compassionate, spitfire of a little girl. And I’ll miss my petite, energetically idiosyncratic and otherworldly mother. I miss my wife, before shame (both old and new) transformed her fierce love for her children, and husband, into brittle anger, and stifled whatever openness she’d managed to hold on to. I miss my son, when he was innocent, and his wounds were more obvious – less buried under the guise of teenage sarcasm and angst. I miss all those things we shared together as a family – the sense of shared purpose, and care for each other. I kept our family together for years and years. It nearly killed me. And I nearly never noticed.

Thank God I woke up, but waking up also means noticing how much I’ve lost – how much we've all lost.

I just nodded off there for a day or two – too sad to acknowledge it. But now I’m back.

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