20121203-001739.jpgPhoto above: Keith and me on my college graduation day in 1982 and also the day of my bridal shower. I was 21 and he was 24 years old, both so young and at the start of a beautiful 30-year marriage.
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I haven’t dreamed in such a vivid way in quite some time. But as I awoke this morning after a brief sleep, I lay there stunned that my reality upon awakening didn’t match the dream I had abruptly left. I lay in bed nearly 20 minutes grasping at the threads of memory in an effort to return to the dream.

This morning’s dream occurs just 3 months after Keith’s death and must have occurred during that brief hour between 8:30-9:30 am this morning. I know it was not from during the night because I had gotten up earlier after being awakened by Lenny, my husband’s 18-month-old Silken Windhound, who makes it known that he needs to go out to relieve his small bladder by whimpering relentlessly next to my ear.

Although some things are fuzzy about the dream, some things are quite clear. I’ll do my best to relay these details here:

The Dream, 3 month anniversary

In my dream, there was me, Keith, Sarah and Anastassia, with the girls both grown as they are today. We were preparing for long road trip. It was AFTER Keith’s death… yet he was there, speaking to me. It seemed that the trip was as much for him as it was for the rest of us. The girls were there, too, but not so much talking, just along, watching Keith and I as we busied ourselves getting things ready. Keith was wearing a yellow polo t-shirt with wide white stripes and thin blue stripes and a breast pocket. The shirt would have been one of his nicer ones, though he always preferred ones with the pocket.

During the dream, we were loading up a station wagon – probably my old Volvo, but it could have been Keith’s truck. It seemed more like the bed of a truck. Maybe like an El Camino if it had a back seat. An El Camino might be significant only because it was the car Keith had when we first met. But the car in this dream was somewhat ambiguous.

We were piling things on top of each other into the bed of the truck/back of station wagon. Not boxes, but lots of tools, metal, wood and other awkward-shaped items that didn’t really fit together so there were lots of open spots between the pieces. Gaps that seemed ready to fill with smaller pieces but lay empty now.

Then we were at a gas station, and it seemed important that I had to put air in the tires of my bicycle. Keith was telling me it was important to do this now and helped me by providing instructions. That was when a young female attendant with curly auburn hair asked me about Keith and brought to my attention that this trip was happening with him after his death. I know this because I recall the conversation in the dream where I say to her:

“Yes, this will be hard to explain to my mother. But it’s simple really. It’s like that DNA thingā€¦”

I can’t recall explaining much more than that. But it made complete sense… in the dream. It was natural for Keith to be there, for him to be a part of the activity and conversations.

And then – as I had done all summer – I was driving us all, Keith in the seat beside me and the girls in the backseat watching. I remember at the end of my dream, just before I awoke, I drove up over the bump of a curb before pulling out of the gas station onto the road.

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Now for the analysis:

I like dreams for they are a place where the imagination and reality can collide, where nonsense makes sense, and where time is irrelevant. So when my dreams have been this vivid, I have tried to write them down.

This is not the first time I have dreamed of Keith. But it has been awhile. The last time was only a few weeks after he died. But I’ll save that one for another day.

A close friend who also has a strong interest in dreams and has been studying their potential meanings encouraged me to share this latest one. And I think his analysis is spot on:

Very interesting dream… The idea of taking a long journey is like moving to a new place or leaving a current state… The fact that the packing was not neat and organized, things won’t fit together well on this journey moving forward… Putting air in bicycle tires suggests the importance of managing pressure and maintaining balance… And finally, the curb is so suggestive that it will be a bumpy ride moving forward but you are not alone, with Keith by your side on the journey, and the girls close by. And no one is flustered.

Some might say that your animus has chosen the persona of Keith and is helping you to pack up and move forward.

It’s interesting to see the connections with my dream, my friend’s analysis, and some recent events. This week I was with another friend who turned a little close to a curb and bumped over it. I also took on moving the trailer with Keith’s truck for the first time on my own. Although I had checked and re-checked the trailer, it only took a half mile before I hit a bump and the trailer popped off the hitch, left dragging by the chains. Fortunately, nothing was damaged and I was able to get my daughter to come and help me get the trailer back onto the hitch. It was stressful, yes. So was backing the damned thing with that giant crewcab diesel truck. But I managed. Then I turned it over to others. That is the privilege I’m taking… choosing when I need to step back and let others take it on. I am trying to muster courage to do these things that I always took for granted that Keith did. But I am also mindful of my limitations, emotional and physical. It’s a self-preservation technique I am beginning to cultivate more intentionally.

So maybe the dream was a culmination of these various adventures from the week. And maybe it was, as my friend suggests, a psychic effort to bring Keith beside me as I journey forward. And yes, maybe there will be bumps in the road, and my daughters will be nearby to help. But I also do need to put some air in my bicycle tires. The bike sits upon a stationary stand but the tires are flat, making it unusable for picking up for a ride outdoors. But I guess it’s not a bad thing since the weather now turns to the cold winter with its long dark nights.

As for the young woman with the auburn curls, I know who that is. It is me as a young woman, the girl I was when I first met Keith. I’d even worked at a gas station when I was 17, earning money that winter pumping gas and checking oil at a full service gas station in order to pay for a new exhaust system for my first car. Hmmmm…. so the young me was attempting to give the old me a bit of a reality check.

But each day, I try and make some headway on this journey. I visit our Perry Road project, wander around to check the progress, check the locks, and listen to Keith’s wind chimes in their Himalayan harmony as they echo over the hillside facing the setting sun. I think about what I can build new here, a sanctuary that seems remote facing down the hillside, yet part of the family’s journey with my daughters and yes, even Keith… in spirit. With that in mind, I know I’ll find ways to fill the gaps while bracing myself for those bumps in the road ahead.

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