What You Can’t Plan For

I dreamt of him last night. This was not the “I know you’re dead but let’s talk anyway” usual affair, nor the “How could you of faked your death? Do you realize what you’ve done?!”. No, this dream had not even a whiff of death. He was very much alive and the feelings so vivid it felt more like a flashback than a dream. He was telling me that he had Monday off (but would have to work a little from home) and I was so utterly brimming with joy that I ran and jumped into his arms, wrapping my naked self around him. That feeling of joy was so accurate, so real. It’s been a long ass time since I’ve felt it, but I recognized it immediately. I was as happy to see it as I was my husband!

I’m not romanticizing my marriage by saying that I just loved spending time with my husband. He made me angry and sad at times as I’ve no doubt I did him. But for 18 years there was absolutely no one with whom I’d rather spend time. No one. He didn’t take enough time off, so when there were those unexpected days off I really was thrilled. He (almost) always took off for my birthday and every holiday his workplace acknowledged. But when it came to planning time off he was rubbish. My husband was many things, but a planner was not one of them. He was an idea man, and I was and still am a details woman. There were times, I’ll admit, that I really resented his lack of planning. I hated how tending to all the details made me feel like the “mother”. I envied friends whose husbands planned and executed their travel. I remember a particular tense travel dust-up: once upon a time, during the age of mapquest, my husband printed out directions and handed them to me. Once behind the wheel, he kept asking me to navigate. He had not looked at a map before we left and had no idea what direction we were headed. My “you have one job!” outburst was a long time coming. I planned the trip, got the cash, shopped for and packed the picnic, packed my bag, the dog’s bag, cleaned out the fridge, stopped the newspaper, etcetera, etcetera. All he had to do was pack his back and drive the damn car. Our division of labor was much more balanced in every other domain. But anything that took planning? Eeh gads.

Funny thing; one of the first things I did after he died was to cancel all our plans. (Psychological aside; he canceled my happily ever after plans by dying, and I responded by canceling all our immediate plans.) Just hours after he died, I enlisted friends to cancel the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve plans I’d made for us. The four days at the beach making turkey with our best friends? Gone. The Christmas show at Birdland? Poof. The New Year’s Eve dinner cruise with friends? Over. All of it, over. Really and truly over. I’ve been on a dinner cruise since then, and to the Birdland Christmas show. I’ve been at the beach since New Year’s Eve this year. They’ve all been fine, sometimes pleasant and always monochromatic. For as long as anyone would listen I’ve maintained that a happy marriage makes life technicolor. Last night in my dream I saw all the colors of the rainbow.


















I Dreamed A Dream

I still dream of him and it is always, without exception, deeply troubling. In the morning I feel mildly ill and exhausted. I mean; “take to my bed” exhausted, if I were ever to take to my bed. I never did by the way. Even in those first few days, I got up and showered every single day. I could not indulge in that kind of high drama. Had I not had a houseful of people, perhaps I would’ve considered it. But I had no desire to swoon with a rapt audience in the next room.

These dreams I have are not lush or lovely, or chick flick material. They are not snippets of our past life together. I do not get to relive our happiness through the miracle of REM. They are always, each damn one of them, about him betraying me. Often they are about him faking his death so that he could have a multi-year break from our life together. I am never happy to learn this, but am outraged on everyone’s behalf. How dare he put everyone through that! In the most recent version of this dream, I learned that everyone else was complicit. Family, friends, colleagues et al., were all just fine with it. No matter which version of this dream it is crystal clear that I will not take him back. I am never happy to see him and am adamant that he will not change this new life.

There are so many troubling aspects to this dream. First and foremost is that I’ve been having it for years and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. I have had it while in new relationships and while single. I have had it when things are good and when things are bad. The supporting players, set and time period change but the theme is always the same; betrayal.

I don’t want to have this dream. If I must have it can I also have a pleasant Lifetime Movie-ish one? It doesn’t have to be tit for tat. I’ll settle for a sweet dream for every two of this dark and distasteful one. It doesn’t even have to be terribly creative, just show me a clip of the past. How about that memory that steadies my heart rate and dries my tears? You know…when I’m in the hammock with our dog, swinging gently and looking up at the leaves. On cue, Jacques jumps up from between my legs as he hears “daddy’s” car slow to turn into the driveway. Husband walks through the house to the sliding glass doors and comes out to join us. Once upon a time that was my life.