Wandering through a vacant house, dust rests on window sills and molding; I kick up ash, even with my tentative steps. A draft from the fireplace helps the ash to pick up speed, swirling, swirling it travels and leads me through a hall. I hear voices, a television in a nearby room. I know this place, and yet do not know where I am. The room is empty except for the television sitting on a small yard sale table, and the sportscaster’s voice fills the air.
Slowly, familiarity grows. I recognize I am home, my dad is home and we are standing in his study. I feel an urgency to tell him something, but what? He appears preoccupied, distracted. I study his face as he opens and reviews a pile of mail. Is it worry or sadness reflected in his eyes? I cannot tell. He carries something in his hands, a large glass jar or vase, and walks toward the kitchen. I follow him, again there is a sense of urgency. I need to feel him, put my arms around him. Once his hands are free, I position myself directly in front of him; I look into his eyes, still he wears a look I cannot attach to any single emotion with certainty . . . maybe sadness? I reach for him and we embrace. I am holding him so tightly, pulling him so close, but he doesn’t feel close. I want to feel the strength of his arms.
I hold on tighter still, my face buried in his neck, I breathe deeply through my nose to take in his familiar scent and wonder . . . why has it been so long since I have seen him, have we been that busy, or maybe he had an extended business trip? I search my mind and cannot find the explanation for this long absence. In a sad and terrible instant I realize. . . I have not seen him because he died. He’s been dead. This realization swiftly takes me from my dream state to suddenly wide awake, and missing him so much. Lying there, I am reminded of a quote that I once scribbled on a note, put it in a plastic baggie, and placed in the vase mounted on my parents’ gravesite.
Where you used to be, there is a whole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime,
and falling in at night.
I miss you like hell.
Edna St. Vincent Millay
A few days later I am talking on the telephone with my friend Barb. She tells me she has read my latest blog post, and in her warm way she is checking the status of my heart. Referring to my unsuccessful final attempt to restore a friendship, I tell Barb I’m fine, and ready to move on without looking back. Then I tell her all about my dream, every detail. We have a conversation about missing people in our lives. And right there, for the two of us, we determine there are two kinds of missing someone. . . .
The first kind occurs when important people in our lives, people we love, leave us by choice. Perhaps, they, or we, fall out of love, maybe trust is broken and cannot be repaired, or we simply no longer have common ground and life takes us on separate journeys. Even when we know in our heart of hearts it is best to end these relationships we cannot help but miss the ones we love. In the days and months that follow we are sure that our heartache cannot be mended. But sure enough, life goes on, we make new friends, find new lovers and soon what was missing has been found again.
The second type of missing someone is deeper , ever present, the result of losing beautiful and integral people in our lives because their lives have ended. We feel devastated, cheated and angry as we try to make sense of such profound loss. Life may go on around us, our sadness may lessen over time, and happiness return, but, the missing them never goes away as these are the people who cannot be replaced.
I wished the dream had been happier. I wished my dad had been smiling and laughing. Maybe that was my dad’s message in the dream . . . Christine, be happier, smile and laugh, knowing that you have known people in your life so amazing that they cannot be replaced.
Smiling . . .