Found this picture tonight…Andrea years ago.
I have had the strangest dreams lately. Some are simply mundane, boring extravaganzas of baking a chocolate cake or going to a football game. Nothing crazy and certainly no details that I can remember other than the basis of them.
But try as I might, I have no dreams of Andrea. It’s not that I’m trying nor am I waking up a mess because I don’t have them, but more than anything else it’s just frustrating. Frustrating because others around me – her family, friends, even acquaintances that knew her only a short time – tell me that they’ve seen her in dreams. They have gotten signs, eerie happenstances or feelings that tell them “It was a sign from Andrea, I just know it!” It’s frustrating because I don’t get those. I just don’t. I haven’t had a singular dream, in the 11 months since she left us, that I can remember where she was even there, tangentially. No pictures of her on the wall, no movement in my peripheral vision, nothing like that.
Now, before the messages, emails and positivity starts, believe me when I tell you that it’s not from ignorance or a lack of observation. It’s possible, sure, that something has happened, some little thing, some push in the right direction or thought that wouldn’t normally have come to my head, has been placed there by Andrea. I’ve thought of that. I haven’t seen them, though, and it’s hard to hear others tell me that they had a sign and just “know she’s there with me” when I would literally kill to have that feeling and presence and it’s just not there. Not the way others are describing it to me.
It’s not that I have never had them, either. There were times before I lost her that I would wake up in the middle of the night having dreamed of a romantic evening with her and sit up to see her lying next to me in the bed. She never knew why some nights I’d put my arm around her and pull her onto my shoulder for the rest of the night, but I didn’t care. I just liked knowing she was there with me. I am confounded by the fact that no day goes by without my thinking about her but I can’t see or hear her, even in my dreams when I want to.
The kids think about her, too. Noah prays for his Mom to guide him when he’s having a hard time. He comes to me with his troubles, sure, it’s not like he’s looking only to spiritual guidance, but he’s prayed to see if his Mom can guide and help him the way she did when she was here.
I even had a friend once tell me not long after Andrea died that she dreamed of her, saw her in a vision, and that she was so very happy that I shouldn’t worry. That she was at peace. Before you scoff or question, that’s actually something that not only made me feel a little better but confirmed what I had hoped: that her sorrows and pain were over.
Let me explain: Andrea and I loved each other and never had a day apart because of anger, fighting, or argument. I know that’s rare. I also don’t want you to think it’s because we lived in a perfect world with a perfect marriage. Before we moved away from Nebraska we’d had a very hard time. She had grown depressed. The damage from years before from one night with an ass of a guy who took advantage of her and date raped her was coming to the surface even years later. She’d gotten distant, I’d gotten angry, and I turned to friends who would never, ever, tell my secrets to find someone to help me find the strength to hold Andrea up. While it helped me, it hurt Andrea and we reached a point where Andrea asked why I stayed with her, why I didn’t just leave her or have an affair because this was just so difficult.
Just so you know, that was not in the cards nor did it cross my mind. Obviously, we stayed together and lasted 18 years. But moving home to California – a move that was supposed to help our family and make her feel more at ease – just brought her back to a place in her mind that wasn’t pleasant. She wasn’t a carefree little girl being cared for by her parents she was a teenager being told she shouldn’t eat so much and wasn’t worthwhile.
When I met Andrea, even then, she was critical of how she looked. She was 5 foot 10 inches tall, blonde haired, blue-eyed, leggy, and she’s stop traffic with her looks and her attitude. A guy followed her off an airplane once because he thought she was so amazing. (I wanted to follow him with a baseball bat, but that’s another story) I saw all these things, but like so many of us, she refused to see them.
So to hear that she was “at peace” from someone, whether you believe they saw her in that dream or not, is a feeling that gives me a little peace as well.
I know all the arguments. I tell the kids when they have bad dreams to remember that their dreams are their brain’s way of processing everything they’ve done today. Sometimes it’s goofy, sometimes it’s serious, and sometimes your brain doesn’t understand and it gets scary. It’s the computer backup of your mind, so to speak. It may or may not be true, but it gives them some solace so they can sleep. Maybe Andrea’s so deeply embedded in the cells of my being that dreaming about her isn’t something I process anymore. Maybe she’s just part of me, still, even though a big part has ripped away.
My atheist friends will say I see nothing because there is nothing. I have a hard time with that, not because I challenge their beliefs but because – well, I don’t believe that, either. When someone passes, when Andrea left, there was a change. There was a shift. So much of us is just more than the body walking around. When your body can’t function any more, something has to happen, that energy, that spirit, your soul, it doesn’t just disappear. It can’t.
So thinking that, I wonder, why do others get to be with that small part of her still around and I don’t? Maybe it’s because I see so much of her in the kids that I see every day. Maybe she doesn’t think I need it. Or maybe I hurt her somehow. Maybe she wondered why I wasn’t there sooner before she went away and she felt alone – her worst fear. Maybe it’s none of these.
And maybe I am just not looking hard enough. When your day is so hectic and you’re still figuring out the routine, maybe you don’t see what you should.
So I move forward while finding small pieces, remnants like the picture you see up there, from the past. I don’t break down as often as I did, but I still wake thinking she might be there. I wake wondering if I dreamed of her, but more than that, I worry about the morning I wake up and I don’t wonder why she’s not there with me.