I've had dreams that include loved ones who've passed away. Many times, after seeing them in the dream, I realize that they're dead; therefore, what I'm experiencing isn't real. A couple of times, those dreams have been unsettling. Late in 2002, I had a dream that included Aggie, my childhood babysitter, who was really more of a third grandmother. I don't know where I was in the dream, but she came to me and told me that it was time to go. I told her I wasn't ready to leave. She said it was okay; she'd come back after the holidays. You can probably imagine, I was a little freaked out when I woke up.
Of those I've known who've died, Rhonda is the person I see most often in my dreams. I would say once, maybe twice, every six months I have a dream and see her. She was in one of my dreams this week, along with Aggie and her husband John (who were Rhonda's legal guardians). I was visiting the three of them. Rhonda's husband and son weren't in the dream at all, and the dream seemed to take place when I was in college because my husband was nowhere to be found and didn't even enter my thoughts. I remember Rhonda mentioning setting me up with someone.
Before I leave them, Rhonda says that she wants me and my brother to come meet them at a restaurant on Saturday. The fact that she, Aggie, and John are gone didn't occur to me. When I woke up, however, I felt spooked. I mean, how comforting is it when in your dreams you see loved ones from the other side telling you that they want you to JOIN THEM?
So I discussed this dream with my therapist this week. She asked if any memories of Rhonda have surfaced lately. I couldn't think of any direct memories, but I did tell her about some thoughts I'd had over the past week or so that Rhonda's son, Justin, is probably graduating from high school this year and that I hadn't received a graduation invitation.
Really, I don't deserve an invitation. I've done a terrible job at keeping in touch with Justin and Rhonda's husband, Lee. I can count on one hand the number of times I've called them in the past six and a half years since her death. Accidental run-ins and the funerals of Aggie's husband, John, and my husband's grandmother have been the only ways I've seen them.
But I realize why I've stayed away. I know that to stay in touch means eventually going to their house. Going to their house means seeing the pictures of her and Aggie and John and remembering that time that's so far gone. I don't know why I have an aversion to it. After my grandfather died, I still went to my grandmother's house every weekend. Of course, I went because my parents went.
I know my avoidance is selfish. I mean, Lee and Justin have been living in that house for six and a half years, and I can't bring myself to cross the threshold. Perhaps it is time I should suck it up and just show up there. Perhaps it won't be as bad as I think it will be.
About the dream: My therapist believes that something has kept the grieving process unfinished. The whole "come meet us" sentiment symbolizes my subconscious need to come to terms with the loss. She began questioning about what happened around the time that Rhonda died. I told her that I had gotten married a month before. Two months after her death, I started working on a big account at the office. Perhaps there was so much distraction that I never grieved the way I should have.
And I have experienced instances that back up this theory. When John died in January 2004, I really broke up at the end of the funeral. My husband and I were in the car. I was behind the wheel, prepared to drive us back to the office, when I suddenly realized that my brother and I were now the only ones with the memories of being at Aggie and John's house. The thought weighed me down with grief, and I didn't just cry; I sobbed.
Also, the thought of going to Rhonda's house brings tears to my eyes, and at times, when I've run into Justin, I've had to look away because his eyes, his mannerisms, and his personality hold so much of her in them.
Aggie and John lived good, long lives (about 85 and 90 respectively), but Rhonda was robbed. She died at 32, and the last five years of her life were hard for her. The diabetes ravaged her body, and sometimes I felt like I was watching my best friend go piece by piece. She was a sweet, loving, funny friend who deserved a long life watching her family grow. Justin deserved to have his mother sitting in the audience at his graduation instead of losing her on his 13th birthday. Lee deserved the chance to grow old with his soulmate instead of having to perform CPR on her the morning her heart failed.
My therapist's answer to the grief was to turn to my writing. So, here I am. I've stirred up a whole pot of crap with just a dream. And here I was scared someone was trying to tell me my number is coming up soon.