Our Story Begins: The Dreams You Dream
I’ve spent the last few nights up late (actually, even later than I normally am) editing video for this year’s anniversary piece. The video, you see, is one we publish on the week that my wife, the kids’ Mom, Andrea, passed away.
The video isn’t a look back at what we lost, rather a look at how we lived the year. It’s how our story unfolds every day.
But as the day of my wife’s passing approaches it’s also a day that has a profound effect on my children. The problem is, sometimes – most times, in fact – they have no idea that the day’s approach is affecting them. They’re not ignoring it, they’re simply feeling and have no idea what they’re feeling.
The most obvious examples have come in the middle of the night.
I have to preface this with the fact that I used to be an insanely light sleeper. Now, however, life has changed the routine and the extra routine has changed the way I behave. I’m up very late most nights, which wasn’t too different before. But my day is spent prepping the kids for school in the morning . . . then a full day at work . . . then putting dinner on the stove . . . then doing my daily walk (with the time change it’s too dark in the morning now) . . . and finally prepping them for bed. After that, I finish up the day’s cleanup, check the mail, sign the homework folders, make lunches . . and then the last few days I’ve sat down at my computer to edit.
But the last several nights have seen my sons entering my room, just a couple hours after I have fallen into sleep, and trying to wake me. In my deep slumber lately they’ve had to nearly shake me to wake me up.
“I had a bad dream, Dad” is the usual line. That, or in the worst, “I had a nightmare.”
This last evening, though, I could tell it was less nightmare and more sad. My son lay down, head near the pillow, and he was shaking. His face was wet with tears. At ten years old, the tears from fear don’t flow very freely any more. But sadness…those are tears that come.
I folded back the covers on the other side of the bed and realized they’d seen me looking at old pictures of their Mom and editing. I try to keep the long, tedious editing process from them so that they don’t have to deal with it so deeply.
But they can’t help but see and I know it’s affected them.
So as the day approaches my kids get a bit more melancholy. The thing is . . . it’s not every night, like it was two years ago. It’s also not near as difficult. We talk about their mother in far more pleasant terms and smile as we remember her singing off key or dancing terribly in the living room – on purpose to get a laugh.
I look at my son and he sidles over next to me and puts his head on my shoulder and I feel the shuddering in his body slow and eventually still. As his eyes close and his breathing evens out I realize there’s one major thing that he needs . . . and he gets it.
He feels safe.
He drifts off to more pleasant dreams . . . and once again I see proof that we can face anything if we’re all together.