For our God is a consuming fire.

-Hebrews 12:29

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dreams From Nightmares

July 6th was the seven year anniversary of my Papa's death. I remember vividly learning of his passing. It was the holiday weekend; I was sleeping in. My folks called fairly early in the morning for a day off, and I'm not one to answer an early a.m. ringing phone (or any number I don't recognize for that matter). But a series of calls is our family signal for PICK UP, so I did.

The news wasn't extraordinarily shocking. He'd been ill, and in and out of the hospital several times over his last years. It was the finality of it. The fact that the last time I'd seen him (Mother's Day, 2002) was the last time I would ever see him. I remember him telling my boyfriend of the time that I was his pride and joy, his bright blue eyes sparkling while he said this with earnest.

Growing up, I used to have nightmares about various family members dying. Unfortuantely graphic and violent haunts of shot-gun wounds or stabbings. Thankfully, none of these came to pass. It freaked me out though. I used to have an underlying concern that something awful would happen to the ones I love. Awful things have happened: my mother's near death car accident and painful recovery with halo, my cousin's physical/emotional trauma with alcohol. Thankfully, the Lord saw fit to keep both around and bring both back to health. Again thankfully at 33, I am in a rare and elite class of Gen Xers that still has three of her four grandparents living and fairly active.
All of my grandparents have enriched my life immensely. My paternal grandmother taught me to read music and play piano. My grandfather used to cook me burgers on the grill every time I'd visit them, because he knew these were my favorite. He was also my Sunday School teacher growing up, and would buy the whole class full sized candy bars each month to celebrate birthdays, even if no one in class had a birthday that month.

My maternal granny and late papa used to travel all the time, and ran a campground in Vermont during the summers. Some summers, I would get to visit them for a week, and Papa would let me ride his motorcycle (like a vespa) around the campsite on my own. I wasn't even a teenager at the time. Granny would let me collect coke cans left behind by campers, and turn them for the nickel deposit. I got to keep the money. These kinds of memories are so special. I know how blessed I am to have had these experiences, and be loved by these wonderful family members.

A few nights ago, I had a dream that my whole family was together celebrating someone's birthday. From behind a swarm of people gathered by food, I caught a glimpse of my Papa sitting on the couch. In my dream, my breathing stopped. He's been gone 7 years, yet there he was smiling at me with those piercing, blue eyes. As I ran to him to ask how he was here, I was stopped by a stranger who explained that the man was not Papa. It was his twin brother. (My Papa did not have a twin.) But I went up to this Papa look-alike, and sat at his knee and breathed in his scent, and just was. Content for the moment to be as close as possible to a man I miss so much. In the dream, it didn't feel the same, but it was close.

I woke up sad, knowing that I didn't really see Papa, and that I can not see him. Knowing that it's been seven years without his humor and exhuberance. Missing him hurts, but not remembering him would hurt more. I'm thankful that I still dream of him and think of him regularly. It's a testament to how important he is to me, and the depth of his influence.

I love you, Big Boss. I keep trying to be your pride and joy. Vermont is still my favorite state. The husband and I talk of getting a small cabin in Vermont to spend our retirement summers. I think you'd get a big charge out of that, and remind me of all the best places to get pancakes.

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