Just like the virus, my dreams about people from my long ago past have never really gone away.
They are still so vivid they disturb my emotions. I dream of the Mom and Dad who raised me (my maternal Grandfather and his second wife). They are close to death in my dreams, especially Mom.
Do I dream of her because Mom died at home, alone one day in her sleep some 2,368 miles away, while I had chosen to continue living and working in California so my son would grow up knowing his Dad?
Am I trying to go back to be with her so it doesn’t happen alone? Or at all?
When Dad is part of the dream, I am always angry with him. Is it because he was alcoholic and verbally abusive to my Mom on a daily basis? Because sometimes – not often – it got physical? Because he could say he loved me with tears in his eyes but was never comfortable hugging or kissing me?
I have no answers to what my parents presence in my nearly two years of COVID dreaming means. Am I afraid of dying? My therapist says they are just dreams and they may mean nothing at all.
Even though they are so vivid and unsettle me, I ask? Yes, even then, she says.
I also still dream of the first two boys I genuinely loved in that not adolescent, but not grownup way when you are a younger teen.
One is my summer neighbor, Tom. Whenever his family arrived around Memorial Day to the lake on which we lived year-round, I couldn’t wait to catch a glimpse to see if he were home from college for the summer.
He was tall and tawny, almost leonine in look. One evening he saved me from one of my parents fights by knocking on the door and taking me outside from whatever argument was so loud in the kitchen the entire neighborhood heard it.
He was my forever hero after that.
Then there was Jimmy. He was dark haired with the bluest eyes and had milky white skin that I worried scorched in the summer.
He was a farm town boy and two years ahead of me in school. Since the junior and senior high schools were in the same building, I lived for the period between bells when I could sneak a peak at him if our paths crossed in the hallway.
Or when I could watch him for four quarters on the basketball court where I would silently pray the coach would put him in the game. When he did play, did he know all my cheers were for him?
I told a friend the other day that Dorothea, the town beauty salon owner, had offered to pay my way through cosmetology school and then come work in her shop if I’d wanted.
If I had stayed and done that, maybe I would have ended up married to Jimmy, I said.
“What if it turned out you didn’t like him?” she asked. “My 13-year-old self would still have been delighted,” I answered.
Yet my dreams of him are not pleasant and of things that never happened. To what they portend I cannot say.
I still dream of my son when he was young because I harbor such guilt that as a divorced, single, professional mother, I didn’t get to spend the quantity of time I wanted with him.
As to the quality of time, I tried to do my best.
So even though he is fully grown, successful in his field and his marriage, is a good human being and seems content, I still flagellate myself over the things I know did hurt him as he was growing up.
Hopefully it wasn’t I who inflicted too much pain. We all are capable of hurting each other, intentionally or not.
But when it becomes purposeful and persistent pain that is doled out, all doubt about intent vanishes.
We seem to be a country built around the concept of perpetual political painfulness.
First it was the Federalists vs the Anti-federalists. The abolitionists vs the slave holders. The Yanks vs the Rebs. The industrialists vs the immigrants. Congress vs Hollywood. Regular Republicans vs. Regular Democrats. Tea Partiers vs Progressives. Trumpists vs all the rest of us and often even vs themselves. The maskers vs the non-maskers. The vaccinated vs the unvaccinated.
At one time I used to think of this country as a cohesive unit. Yes, every state had its own pride and quirks. But we were a nation. We revered our founding together.
Now, as deaths from the #DeltaVarient rise and we watch our children die because enough adults refuse the #vaccine to keep us from herd immunity, this country makes no sense any more.
As if the more than 600,000 prior deaths weren’t enough reason to take “the jab” in and of itself? Now we can’t even do it for the kids, let alone the “community” writ large?
Was there ever common sense and purpose to the “United” States? Or was it really all just a federal crazy quilt, seeming to have a pattern but without real meaning?
Just like my #COVID dreams.