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Recursive Dream Study by Day Huynh

Thunder and lightening and rain last night.  Just before bedtime. This morning everything is moist and cloudy.  The bird and squirrel sounds come to my ears as if through fog. Sitting on cushioned wicker on the back porch, I listen to the uneven hum of the ceiling fans. Temperatures predicted to be summer like, so I open all the windows and turn on the fans. There is a disconnect between the wide open house and the gold-brown and worn green leaves blanketing the gardens.  But the disconnect, the tilt, the slight unevenness of my world’s tectonic plates feel . . . right, correct, just as it is.

Rising only high enough to hit the snooze button earlier this morning, in the less than day light, 10 minutes before I wanted to get up, I caught sight of a man in white tee shirt and tan shorts, pausing during a morning run. Nothing about him was remarkable except for the solidness of his form.  He was there, standing, a bit bent over, catching breath or checking out a plant.  Very, very physically present on the sidewalk across the street.  His solidness triggered a cascade of images, perceptions, possibly visions and dreams from the night before.

I dreamed in a dream that was so real that even now I am not sure I was asleep. I dreamed I awoke and looked out the bedroom window to see the form of a man.  A shadow.  Perhaps a ghost.  Dark and three dimensional.  I watched him for a moment and then went back to my pillow. To sleep within the dream. In that sleep, I put together what I had seen and felt and perceived, and what others told me about their perceptions and visions.  I went through a quick winnowing, almost physically piling up what fit and throwing away what could not be true. And then just held what seemed to be the truth, without opinion or judgment.  It was just what was.  What is.

And then those things, ideas, truths, stayed with me the whole day and night and are still here, almost haunting me until I write them down on this very quiet, moist morning.

So, the shadow out my window could have been David or it could have been someone else, my old friends Jon or Jim perhaps, or someone I have never known.  I am only clear that the shadow was observing.  Seeing the house very different from the one he had known or had been described to him.  Seeing my daughter no longer a little child.  Seeing me and what I carry. Being slightly present for the beginning of the winnowing of ideas that I was about to do.  Without loving or caring or concern, without emotion.  Without negative emotion to be sure. Perhaps a form of deep listening that was more about perceiving than hearing.

It has been years since I’ve thought about these things but in the time after David died, I was aware that some form of him spent time with me. Mostly at night, some days. During the day, it was only a strong feeling of presence. At night, though, he was more. He tried to lay with me, spooning. He wanted to be intimate. He entered some dreams, some I remembered vividly, some hardly at all. He sat on the edge of the bed often. Sometimes I would wake and turn to see his form sitting and then turn back to my pillow. Not shocked or surprised. During the day, I spoke to him without answer. During the night, he watched. A year after he died, I asked my spiritual advisor to contact him and what ensued was a conversation sounding more like himself than anyone could contrive. Night visits continued for a time and then were over. Dreams from time to time cast him in some major rolls but often in minor character parts or walk ons.

What I have this morning, from yesterday’s review, is a few private truths. First, that all those things I remember are true. I don’t need to believe any dogma about after life, what I experienced was simply real. I don’t need to believe in the avocado ripening in the basket on the kitchen counter. It is there. Second, that the visiting was to help him separate from us, something that, by a year after death, he had done well. I could take comfort or solace or anything else from the experiences but they were not really about me. During that time, I wanted David to feel what I was feeling. I wanted him grieving, lonely, grasping for the life we had together. Like I was. Wanting those big emotions was like wanting Muta the cat to read. Crossing to the other side of this life, David became something that shared space with me from time to time, but he would never again be someone whose feelings might match my own.

Now, a day later from when I began this, two days after the dream, I am not at all troubled by what I have known and discovered. I have known all of this for a long time but some of it was too painful to admit to knowing.  Now, I am content in all of it. At least for today. I think to say that this is my last entry about grieving, especially because it is not at all about grief. But I know better than to make such definitive statements. I know I have written before that this is where I am in this overlong journey of unbecoming a partnership and becomes a single whole. Who knows if this is some point of ending or just another step? Perhaps I can say definitively that I have two feet solidly on a new step.