I’m in a store with someone I know but can’t name. He’s one of my dad’s friends and he’s drunk and we’re looking over an automatic bed, similar to those found in hospitals. He tells me how they are worth the money, expensive as they are. He spent a fortune on his and has seen enormous health improvements since then. I’ve got a meat cleaver in my hand and he has a butcher knife. He tells me my cleaver has gone up in value and I notice it reads “$59.95” on the blade. Then the man is Jeff Stewart and he begins to clumsily throw his knife at a small, round, wooden coffee table, trying to get the point to stick in the wood. Then he throws it into the ground. I decide we need to leave and we start traveling somewhere in a large truck.
Jeff is driving, but I’m not even sure it’s him anymore since he’s in the front of and I’m in the back of what seems like a train car. Robert Richman is on the other end of my cell phone and we’re talking about my dad. Robert tells me “I don’t think you’re an alcoholic Scott, I think you’re very spiritual.” That causes me relief and then tears; I start crying and thank him but only for a moment because it quickly becomes clear that the driver of the train, whoever he is, has fallen asleep. I watch us come closer and closer to the edge of the road, towards and embankment that we eventually hit. I scream and then fall to the side as the truck rolls over and down the embankment. The truck is now a train that has broken into two parts, each of which is resting on the edge of a large, grey, lifeless looking pond. I can’t understand how it isn’t falling into the pond. I remember cutting off Robert with a scream into his ear and feel bad, but now I have an accident to deal with. I have to find my dad.
I climb along the embankment, far below the road but just above the water. To get to the part where my dad is I’ll need to go into the dark water. I wade in. Suddenly the water changes. As it rises up my chest I realize it’s the clearest water I have ever seen with beautiful, colorful fish swimming all around me. It isn’t cold either. I find it amazing that the water is the same temperature as me and therefore undetectable as it touches my skin. I push away from the bank and head towards the collapsed car where I believe my dad to be.
I reach the train which is now more like wooden shelves on the inside of a room. I pull out of the water and situate myself in front of a small box made of dark wood. There are two drawers in the box. I pull open the first and find butterscotch (and other) hard candies that my grandpa used to give me. In the second drawer is a picture of my dad. I begin heaving and then crying uncontrollably, knowing now that he is dead.
Above the shelf is an open window into another room where a man and his wife can see me crying. They don’t speak English. I know the woman is watching me then talking to the man in Spanish. They know who I am, who my dad was. They are his neighbors and understand I am here to clean out his house since he has died. I find bags of ancho chiles and bags of red chile powder from the southwest causing me to cry harder. Someone left these for me, I think.
(8:07 am – I wake in tears)
Only infrequently do I wake up crying. The lineup of characters and symbolism is undeniable. Death is upon me. Jeff Stewart is a childhood friend whose mother died in a fire while he spent the night at my house. Robert Richman’s father passed away midway through 2009. My grandfather is the dead’s most active steward in my life. The spices were flavors Eli left for me before passing on last month. Death is all around me…in my past, in my dreams and it is wrapping its long and skeletal fingers around my future.
There is no question that I am dealing with the leftovers of last year’s parade of sucker punches. But there is something new, I think. God is coming to take my father and, unlike anything I’ve been dealt in the past, he’s sending me a telegraph to prepare. I think he wants into my life, watching me as I press forward into a world of certain loss disarmed, unprepared for the inevitable. I am controlling less and less of the things that hurt me the most. I need something to anchor to. Things I can plan and control in my life, things that are concrete, that I can point to and think “There is something I’ve done today that makes it %.001 harder for calamity to break down my door and suffocate me.” I exercise to keep my heart strong. I write to make my path clear to my girls. I struggle between the balance of what I put into this world and my body and what I take out.
It’s been a week since I spoke to my dad. I have been anxious all day, tormented by this dream and what I am supposed to do with it.