Content Warning: For those who knew my father, and for those who may not want to hear about death and dying feel free to stop reading at any point. Details are not withheld for comfort.
I’ve had a lot of vivid dreams lately. One where my celebrity crush and I talked for hours about light-hearted things and got to know each other. Another where no one would help me find an air hose to fill my tires with. I usually document these dreams with hashtags in my sleep app, and it is fun to look back on.
I write to you at 5 am, because I’ve had another dream. Well, one might classify it as a nightmare.
I don’t remember much about this dream, I remember there being a lot more to it, but this small ending detail will be forever etched in my mind, and I want to etch it here.
I don’t remember the events leading up to the photo, just that this photo seemed light-hearted, unexpected, as I seemed to be having a rather grand ole time. I remember guarding this photo from others, not wanting them to see it or ruin it in some way.
This photo wasn’t like other photos. You couldn’t really see the image forthright, you had to turn it in your hands for it to reflect an image. For that reason, it had many images. I remember there being three distinct focal points. One that I fail to remember the contents of was at the bottom left. Another that I remember containing my brother around 10 or so years old was located more top center. And the other was located on the right.
The other was of my dad. He was laying on a twin bed kind of haphazardly. The majority of his body was on the bed, but his feet hung off it as he lay there. A piece of poster board was set up between the twin bed and another twin bed, and it said something to the effects of Rest In Peace Steve Schultz. I remember it was colorful, like someone meant to cheer you up with the board. It had the plastic bubble lettering and the background of a board in an elementary school classroom.
I remember looking at each focal point again before this last photo decided to share with me the history of that photo. It was the same perspective of this camera sort of up and looking down as if from a rather tall person or from the ceiling. The poster board no longer was there, but I hardly noticed that.
I saw my dad standing, taking a step, and finally plopping onto the bed in a sort of exasperated relief. He laid back. His shirt had come up where I could see his hip bones sticking out around the waist of the blue jeans he wore. It didn’t look like my dad’s body. He was all skin and bones. Then, he began to die, fulfilling the prophecy of the photo before. However, his facial expression alternated. After a few seconds of the glazed, blank stare of death, he would seem to “come to” and his brow would furrow in confusion and concern like he didn’t know what was happening. It was like his body was failing him and he couldn’t control it. He alternated between the two every few seconds several times before I woke up.
I hit the emergency stop. I dream so much that I’ve learned to stop nightmares. If things start to get a little too intense, I notice and wake myself up.
There’s no emergency stop in life. Not one to stop things that are too intense. There was no emergency stop when my dad was dying before my eyes in a bed that was different than the bed in that dream. That dream turned nightmare.
There’s only an emergency stop in my dreams. And then you wake up, groggy, processing what the hell just happened. Sad. I’ve had several dreams of my dad dying since he died almost 8 years ago. This being one of the more horrific ones.
I dislike these kind of dreams, and I don’t. Because, I got to see my dad alive in some capacity again. Even though he was dying, and even though it was too hard to watch again. There were brief seconds where he was alive. And, you have no idea how much I will hold onto that, even though it isn’t a real memory.
Just like light cannot escape a blackhole, the living cannot escape death. It has an influential hold on us that we must acknowledge. As death and grief enter our lives, it is up to us to deal with it. To live with it.
Anyway, I should try to get some more sleep. Waking up at 4:40 in the morning, an hour later than usual, means that it might be harder to fall back asleep and wake up feeling rested. Here’s hoping this has been a long enough break for me not to re-enter the same dream.
Good morning everyone.
Update: I fell back asleep and dreamt about people not helping me find the air hose. It was stressful, but definitely different. – The Editor