Reflection.

On Seeing My Dad in Dreams

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I keep dreaming about my Dad, and I’m wondering if it happens to make up for the lack of reckoning with his death in my conscious reality. This time we were merely walking down the street together and I was telling him (or his ghost, I suppose) about his death, how much it upset me, and why—not just because he was my Dad, but because he was also a confidant, a friend, an idol. I was bawling about what’s been lost now that he’s gone when the dream was cut off by my waking up, flustered and sweaty and needing to pee.

These dreams have rendered even the most mundane moments—catering to my overactive bladder at 3am—depressing. But they also unleash feelings that remain coiled up and stored away when the sun is out. As time has passed, so has my willingness to confront what’s been taken from us.

Perhaps my body knows it would take too much energy—deprive me of the ability to keep getting by. But then, why send me constant sleepy reminders—like a child who won’t take no for an answer?

And how else can I reckon with this, anyways? Where’s the guide to grieving correctly? The map of emotions one must experience along the way? Haven’t I felt them all, already? Haven’t I written about his death in excess, chipping away at its weight each time?

Yes, but something about it still feels cartoonish—not fully real, nor realized. Like a child actor, I’m still memorizing the script, having been thrust into a new world without prior consultation. This is who you are now—this is what you do, it insists. You are the daughter of a dead person—yes, he’s really gone. You are the member of a family, freshly fragmented, one that’s strong but creaky, all too aware of what it’s missing even as it moseys along. Congrats on the role you didn’t try out for, it cackles endlessly.

It doesn’t help that I’m seeking direction in most other corners of life, navigating labyrinths of career and romance like a Ouija board, shoddily making meaning out of what isn’t really there. That confusion does well to distract me, intentionally perhaps, from the less hopeful issue at hand—the one that offers no potential upsides, no exciting twists and turns. It spreads itself over my dad or death-centric thoughts, creating an imperfect illusion with dream-driven holes.

Those other questions aren’t invalid, or unworthy of hashing out—no, they’re par for the course. But it’s a course that’s been remodeled with new areas that need attention, more stops along the way. Perhaps what’s required is merely my acceptance of that fact, and my allowance of the extra time it might entail. Perhaps I just need to make more space and more time (outside of the REM cycle) for this void I’ve been avoiding.

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