On weekend mornings over coffee and donuts or whatever pastry happened to be in the house, we sat around the table and told about what we'd dreamed the week or night before.
Dad had a mischievous streak that runs pretty wide in me (more about that later). One of his pranks from time to time -- when my brothers were still boys and wanted to be woken early for a weekend project -- was this little impishness: He would place something fragrant just under the nostrils of the sleeping boy, a fresh sliced strawberry one morning, banana another. As they started to waken, he would take away the item. Then when we were at table, telling what we had dreamed, invariably the prank-ee would share his astonishment about something like running through fields and fields of strawberries....
Last night I dreamed my father, who passed away this past April, was still here. He woke from a deep sleep, opened his eyes, and looked straight at me. Mum and my brothers were at his sides, their faces downcast, a portrait of waiting and love. I had been waiting too, watching Dad for signs of discomfort, listening for a moan or a sigh, remembering, praying, all but resting in my usual chair at the foot of his bed.
Without stirring or any warning, Dad opened his eyes, tilted his head forward to look at me and smiled, "Oh, hi Pinino," (Dad's pet name for me from the time I was a toddler -- it means the cute, surprisingly unselfconscious things that children and baby critters do). His smile was the same one I'd seen all my life, full of love and affection. I was astounded in the dream, because of the various drugs we'd been giving him in hospice to ensure he would sleep, that his passing would be without pain or anxiety. Dad was alert and clear, as if he'd just woken from a most refreshing nap to tell me this: "It's so amazing, after all you've been through, that you're so beautiful, that your life is so beautiful."
Well, beauty is in the eye...and Dad was always partial to his kids. But it is amazing. I can't help but take the meanings in his words with me to contemplate and absorb as time and my life go on. And I take with me the memory of my father's affection, in his voice and delighted surprise. I saw it so often since my childhood. How grateful I am for my father's life and for mine, even after all he had, after all we have both been through. And I take something else with me that's just hitting me now as I write this: how good and sweet it was to hear my father say my name again, to hear my name again in his voice, these months since he's been...gone?
Now (for your journal or discussion, or to share as some of you already have, as a "Tweet," or comment at the blog) pull up a chair at the kitchen table, won't you? There's plenty of coffee and a fresh pastries. Tell me, what did you dream last night?