I had a dream this morning.
You know the kind of dreams you have right before you wake up that seem so very real…
In my dream, a friend of mine and I were, for some inexplicable reason, working late in a restaurant and having difficulty closing up. As is often the case in my dreams, there was a task to be done and infinite problems continually got in the way of completing the task. But, after what seemed like hours in my dream, we finally finished the task and left the restaurant…late for some sort of get together.
As we crossed the parking lot toward my truck, casually chatting, I began to notice someone in the parking lot moving to intersect with our course. I paid little attention to this man, but could see that he was deliberately moving to meet us. I continued to ignore him as he stepped in front of my path and I even attempted to move out of his way. The man, intent on getting my attention, stepped in front of me again now nearly bumping in to each and other I finally looked up to see what he wanted.
The rest of the dream was stripped away as I looked into my father’s face. He was younger than I remember him, before he began working as a correctional officer. He was thin like he was when I was in High School and his hair was longer and he wore his typical beard. He was dressed casually, as I would expect him to dress now for any normal afternoon in public. He smiled his broad smile at me and his eyes were bright and alive with laughter. I don’t know when he had reached out but I felt his hands firmly on my shoulders, holding me steady.
I broke from my initial shock and I grabbed him in a huge bear-hug and asked him what he was doing there. Not in the sense that it was impossible, but only that I did not expect him to be here. The party we were late for was a good-bye party for him, and he became worried when I was running late and went to find me. He reminded me he was leaving and wanted to make sure I was going to come say good-bye. Just as I was assuring him that I would not miss my opportunity to say good-bye, I woke up.
I lay in bed, dazed. His image still burned into my brain. This was unique, I never dream of my Dad. This was the most vivid and real his presence has felt since the last time I saw him in 2004. I had just bought my house and I hosted Thanksgiving that year. I had a lot of family visiting and I was so busy with preparations for Thanksgiving that my memories of him from then are a blur. He was so real and clear to me this morning that I didn’t know how else to process the experience except to write about it.
Such a simple dream…but so very real. I’m shaken, but comforted at the same time. I really don’t know what to do with this. I have so much going on in my personal life lately, so much stress and uncertainty but also so much happiness. Maybe I just needed to be set back on my foundation. Maybe I just needed that reassuring smile and those strong hands to reach out and grab me by the shoulders and steady me.
We’ll see…maybe this was exactly what I needed right when I needed it.