I felt the hair on his face brush up against my cheek. He pulled back for a minute and looked at me. I could see the lines around his eyes crinkle up into a slight smile. Then he closed his eyes and kissed me really slowly. His arms, strong and twice as big as my own, were wrapped around me.
I was so happy. Blissfully happy, like that kind of happy you feel when a child is born or you have that first kiss with someone you know you’ll be with forever.
But after that moment came confusion. Why was I so happy?
He looked at me, and then I realized that he KNEW. He knew everything that was happening in my life. He knew who I was now.
I was dreaming, but it was so real. Shawn was there with me, healthy and happy and kissing me on a couch that we had when we were first married. I could feel his breath on me. He was REAL.
And he knew.
He knew I wasn’t the same. He knew I’d moved forward, in a way. I hadn’t gotten remarried or sold the house, but he knew that I had changed in fundamental ways. He knew I was different. Still Marjorie, yes, but not the Marjorie he knew for 15 years.
He wasn’t mad. He was kind and he was thoughtful and he kept looking in my eyes like he wanted me to know that. In the dream, I was really confused about why I had decided to do so many things without him. I was particularly upset about why I had let another man grab my attention. Why would I do those things if he was right there?
I woke up. And the guilt hit. Hard.
My first thought was this: “Why had I let him go?”
I wasn’t cursing God for taking him from me. I was cursing myself for letting parts of him slip away from me. The tone of his voice in the morning. The way his eyes looked when he was really focusing. The feel of his face against mine.
I’ve dreamt of him many times before, of course. But these really vivid dreams have somewhat faded. They’ve been replaced by dreams where Shawn is hazy. Present and happily cheering me on…yet hazy.
But he was there in my dream last night. So real, it felt like I was actually touching him. So real that even hours later when I typed this sitting at my school desk, I couldn’t stop the tears.
I cried a lot after waking up in a bed alone with the image of Shawn in my mind. I tried to go back to sleep at first, to see if I could recapture the dream. I wanted that feeling back, if just for a moment. But of course I couldn’t.
I just kept thinking this over and over again: I want my old life back.
Yes, I want the parenting partner and the man who could fix everything in my house. But, actually, I can figure out how to live without those parts of Shawn. I can deal with the logistics and I can somehow manage to parent my kids on my own. What I still miss with deep desperation is simply the man whose beard brushed against my cheek.
I miss what it was like to have a person next to me who loved me fully and completely.
And here is something I know for sure: I would give up every bit of the emotional resilience and financial knowledge and new flutters of the heart I’ve had this year, if I could just have him with me again.
Because he was real in my dream. So, so real.
Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.