“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” ~C.S. Lewis
Memories have been coming back to me in flashes, sequences during dreams. They start with Peter, one of my closest and longest confidants in this life. In the dream he is walking me through high school (he played the drums in the band, I was in the musicals), and then he’s with me in the Bronx (I followed him to college) and through our life after. It was an overlay of his life and mine. I saw things I thought I had long forgotten for good. I think I chose to forget certain things to survive. I’m just too soft. I am an Empath. I couldn’t afford to remember.
A flash to us in the Bronx, laughing. Dead people. She’s died. He’s hiding under her body. Shot. Pizza. Bound. What they did to those girls. I see one giant tear on my face. I’m in a stairwell and the swat team is there. I step over them to go study. The apartment. The rats.
Running through the Poconos after his first marriage fell apart, before he earned his doctorate and I was diagnosed. I could see the long drive to him, visiting his parents. I could see the worry right through me. I was afraid I might lose him and drove hours away to go for a jog. I needed to be beside him during his Season in Hell. Like Rimbaud, we all have one, or two, or five. Depending on who you are and how long you have lived.
Side note: The only one who doesn’t fit into this is Keith Richards. Homeboy can climb a coconut tree in his late 60’s, fall, crack his head open and roll over and see the coconut was cracked too and drink from it and walk away. After years of reckless drugs and sex etc. He is happy and free and untouchable.
The dream is him walking me through my life. Through times I would have sworn never existed, but the dream brings them back. The violence of Fordham was all buried deep below. These happened. I had to forget. I forgive myself. I know why. Near the end of the dream, I see myself covering up my ears. Everyone’s yelling, “Jamie, don’t look into it! Don’t look into it!” But Peter is not yelling. I could see a playground. An abandoned swing. Patch of grass in motion, like a breeze was moving through it.
The invisible breeze is more beautiful than the blades of grass. At first the grass is how I envision Hyannis Port, only this blade was creeping up through gravel. Pan out to an old, worn and torn, paved playground.
Cracks in the pavement looked like the pavement was trying to tell me something. It needed grass. The grass was reaching out, “Help me!”
I turn and ask Peter what they mean, “What light Peter? What do they mean? Hurry!? I don’t know where to look!” Was it a solar eclipse again like in 5th grade when Mr. Peters made us draw the blinds? Don’t look into the sun. I remember the drill, I could see it like I was a student again.
I turn to Peter and I ask him again, “What light buddy? Please, hurry!” I was so confused and everything was muddled, and yet, loud. It felt loud and confusing and fast like how I imagine it feels if you are on Who Wants to Be a Zillionaire and you have three seconds left to answer and no lifelines left.
I see a porch flash and then I do the unspeakable, I look directly into the light; the light everyone warned me not to look at. The light we were convinced would melt our eyeballs, in a single blink, when I was eleven, I was now too curious to not let melt me. I am laughing at myself. Of course this bugger looked into the light lol. In my defense, I wasn’t convinced it was indeed a solar eclipse. I was convinced it was something else.
Peter lets me choose. He doesn’t flinch. He doesn’t stop me. I can’t tell if that is a smile on his face. I look at the light, and my eyes open. The dream is over and I am sick in bed. The same bed. It’s grim reality.
For the past few days I wonder if there is some other meaning to the dream and the light. It sounds like a near death experience. A journey through life; a childhood I’d almost long forgotten up until now and the choice accompanied by light. I start to panic and sweat at the thought. As much as I long to see the ever after, I know I am tired and long for my maker and my loved ones passed, I’m upset with myself for quitting.
Part of me has always known I don’t belong here-THIS is WHY I always believed in something else. I was not raised to believe. I came to these conclusions on my own, alone. It was a feeling. The only way I could understand and survive. I have always known that all there is love and it is all we take with us. My entire life, even though I have AlWAYS felt inherently alone, no matter who I was next to, I sought love, fought for love and always aligned myself and surrounded myself with it. I do not surround myself with haters. Love. And despite feeling alone, I am always surrounded by people I have met and loved. So, what did I just leave behind by agreeing to go? Would my children grow up pissed that I quit? Definitely. I did not choose to stay to LOVE them. THAT is what I would have left behind.
I had an infusion last week and it was the first time I looked at my doctor, his white hair and cowboy boots, he’s handsome and witty. He didn’t like what he saw and I looked up at him, crying and asked point blank, no time to blink, “How will you feel when I die? Doc, this won’t end well. You are going to watch me progress (what a euphemism for degenerate). Are you going to be okay? What will you be like at my funeral. It’s on doc, and it’s running. I feel it.”
He sat on the chair with wheels and scooted next to me and took my hand, pretending he cared about my blood pressure. He didn’t miss a beat and smiled like a father would to a child. He is a man of numbers and said he had a plan. He had it all worked out. if you consider the average mean of his parents and grandparents etc.’s life expectancies, the worst-case-scenario is he will perish at 80 and by then we have blah blah years and a cure lol. He made me laugh. I wiped the icky mess off my face, it latched onto my sleeves I had pulled over my knuckles, and I said, “You know, the most important thing to remember is I will kill you if you die first.” He laughed and we let it go.
He didn’t factor in what I have learned so long ago-we do not control a thing. Even if the numbers are accurate-how does he know he won’t get hit by a drunk driver tomorrow? I never factored in MS. I had a graduate degree, a career a home and a life and running was such a passion and kids and the sun and I could hear them in summertime laughing outside, running with thick grass padding their bare feet. I never factored in MS. I don’t control much. Crunch the numbers all you want. It was still a sweet attempt. I wanted to hug him, but I didn’t. I stopped crying though. I know it hurts him when I cry.
The dream, me asking the doctor what he would do when I died, all adds up to this-this time it doesn’t feel like the sick will go away. Everything is coming back to me now. This has been a pretty severe exacerbation.
With all of this medical ick around me, I couldn’t help but wonder, after these dreams, if that light wasn’t just a light or a RANDOM dream about a solar eclipse. I can’t help but wonder if that was THE light at the end of the tunnel and I just agreed to go. I looked right into it. I didn’t deny it. I didn’t feel alone. I wasn’t afraid until I woke up. “Shit, did I just give up?” is my first thought after each dream.
Peter found love again, and married the most perfect woman he could have ever written into one of his brilliant scripts. She matches his intellect, his art, speaks many languages and carries the same moniker as his favorite opera, Aida. She looks like the princess in Aladdin. They just had a baby.
The baby shower was down on Jane Street and I have never felt so full circle, so complete. My dear friend, childhood, through college, through life friend who is older than me and we were sure would not have biological children-would, and with his soul mate. I couldn’t ask for more than that. I sat and watched and celebrated. I looked off the terrace in the village, over the other buildings, with my friend.
It was the first time I felt like we had arrived.
After the dreams, I texted him explaining I needed to see the baby; that time is flying by. We talked about poetry and, finally, I fessed up. I told him about the dreams.
“I think I just let go, Peter. I think I told God I was ready when I looked into the light. I need to see the baby before I go. This has been the longest and craziest episode in my memory.”
Peter is this gentle atheist and poet. A romantic. A doctor in romance. He always was, even when we were kids. We’d be menacing something and he’d be running with us, but with a book of Sylvia Plath poems under his arm. All of us enveloped in darkness and youth. Always a book of poetry under his arms.
Peter didn’t flinch to my dream confession, which meant to me that it wasn’t rehearsed or bullshit. It was an honest opinion. He simply texted back that he didn’t think the light in the dream represented the ever after that I believe in. I did think about his composure in the dream when it came to me looking in the light. His face was almost daring me to look into the light in a calm, “trust me”, sort of way. He had a smirk on his face. Never smug, a smirk nonetheless.
“My friend, the light in your dream, the one you looked into, I believe it represented the light within you.” He told me I was always a light, one that couldn’t be denied, and to not fear. I woke up because of my light, because I didn’t deny it. It was symbolic of my light, not THE light that is my ultimate goal. He believed I was actually choosing to stay, to acknowledge it, and use it to go on.
I will always feel alone. I did before the MS. I have always felt alone, no matter how love is around me. I was born this way. Maybe MS made me feel like I had a reason to feel so alone. But I cannot lie, I am a loner with people around me. I drift into corners of the room, a book, my mind. Always having to remind myself to go back, to be with them-to love.
But for the night, I settled in without the feeling of being alone. It was a luxury offered to me by his words, that text. I was so tired, and scared. His words laid in bed with me and hushed me to sleep. Maybe I wasn’t giving up, maybe I was acknowledging that there was still a light inside me? I was choosing to stay.
I fell asleep soon after and I didn’t dream that dream again. I dreamed of babies. I could smell them. Rebirth. I woke up, not in night sweats or panic. I felt a calm. A rebirth. The smell of lavender and baby powder. I could feel the memory of my children in the summer, outside and below my window, playing in the yard. The wind and the blades of grass in summertime. This time I could hold them, AND the wind. I was calm. I was ready to go on.Thank God I always chose love. I always chose my friends as family. I filled my world up with love. It's so necessary because texts like Peter's, they are the love that always leaves the light on, knowing you are afraid of what comes with the dark.I, and the light, go on.