I invited Dad to dinner last night in my dream. When he was alive, before we truly trusted our relationship, that was our way. Instead of meeting one-on-one, we would find ways to come within each other’s radius in public and invite the other one to come along.
In my dream, he just happened to call me when I was staying with a friend who was going through a nasty break up and I asked him to join a group of us for dinner that evening. He was pleased. I was pleased. Dad and I both had a terrific public face and we were proud of each other’s accomplishments, so presenting each other to our friends and acquaintances was always a safe bet. We would both rather die a thousand deaths than make a scene and trusted each other’s predictability.
“Do you think I’m insane to be having such a hard time breaking up with a guy who is such a jerk?” my friend cried as we dressed for dinner.
I don’t recall exactly the advice I gave her in the dream, but it was gentle and supportive and indicated that I knew exactly how she felt. I spoke to her as someone who is now happily married and, as such, proof that there is life beyond dating a jerk. I reminded her that no relationship is perfect, including my marriage, but being in one that makes you feel less of a person is simply not worth it. I was proud of my compassion and understanding and she was grateful.
I woke up before we got to dinner so I didn’t get to see Dad. Ever since he died, I dream about talking to him on the phone or getting letters from him, but I can’t ever actually see him. I pondered the peripheral nature of his appearance this time and ultimately felt good that we got past the “I’d like you to meet my dad” nature of our relationship in life. Unfortunately, it took my depression and Dad’s cancer to break through the surface and lead to trust and brutal honesty. We had three years of true, sometimes ugly, this-is-who-I-am talks and were able to learn so much from each other. I think that it was my willingness to admit that I hit rock bottom and ask for help that led him to a counselor in the last six months of his life. Even though I’m certain he knew he was going to die, this Marine-who-didn’t-ask-for-help-EVER found a therapist to help him work through some of the things that were hurting him the most. The fact that he went was astronomical. That he shared this information with me was even more phenomenal and indicated a level of trust that I will cherish forever. I am pleased that it gave him some comfort. I am sad that he learned that asking for help is less of a sign of weakness and more of a sign of trust only in the last six months he was alive, but I am so glad that he died knowing that he could seek assistance and be rewarded with love and understanding.
I’m still not sure what this dream means, but anytime Dad shows up I’m happy to receive him. Today will be spent basking in the warmth that his visit prompted.