That dream again. Haven’t had it in a while. Ken reappears and I don’t want to know him. He is Hopper from Stranger Things – not exactly Hopper, but someone a bit like him, although he is also very much himself too. He has been to a gulag, or some form of extreme confinement. He looks different. Thinner, older, hardened. In this dream, my rejection of him is more complete than it has been in other dreams. I don’t want him to touch me or speak to me. The need to push him away feels so real. He is angry with me. I wake to intense feelings of guilt and sadness. Guilt that I am still having the dream. (Why is it not going? What am I still working through?) Guilt that, in my dream, I am repelling him with more vigour than ever, while in life I miss him. Usually, I wake to reflective curiosity. Today I wake to sadness, to a memory of my old grief that gives way to new grief. I’ve not felt this for so long, not the pure ball of pain that used to sit in my chest, and here it is this morning, familiar and, if I’m being honest, welcome. It assuages my guilt of what I had felt in the dream, so why would it not be welcome?
I lie there still and quiet, wishing he were beside me, maybe still sleeping, or awake and saying nothing, slipping an arm around me, pulling me in. If he were here, I would close my eyes again and re-furl into the hollow where the top of his arm meets his chest, and I would hear and feel his heart beating, feel his breath on the side of my face, and I would feel like a small animal that’s found its safe place, and it would not cross my mind that mornings could be anything other than this.
It tugs at me all day, this dream. During my walk around Arthur’s Seat, it nips me, it squeezes tears from me. I like its soft pain. I like being able to cry. I like it because I know it is temporary. It is grief’s sediment, little gritty pieces that got stuck when the grief poured from me when he died. Poured and poured for months. Then, for years, it stuttered like a hosepipe with a kink in it, then it slowed to a drip, a tap with a worn washer. I like the tears because they remind me he was not a dream. Lately, he has been as much a dream to me as he was last night. In some ways, that was my goal all along: getting to a place where it did not hurt, where he was just a dream. But when I eventually reached that place, I felt muted grief over the loss of my grief.
So I am glad when I find out it hasn’t all washed through me, when I come across these little silts of pain, when dormant gallstones of grief act up to spear me after waking some weird dream.