Do you believe in dreams?
I do . . .
They say our dreams only last a few seconds. I have read that research shows dreams can last anywhere between 5 seconds and 45 minutes. I have read that a few seconds in a dream, to us, can translate to an hour, an afternoon, or an entire day.
I once dreamt that I spent an afternoon with The Old Man. I was young in my dream. I assume I was the age when I saw The Old Man for the last time. Then again, I am often young in my dreams.
It was winter in this dream. I was dressed warmly and sitting in the backseat of my Father’s two-tone, black and gray, Dodge pickup truck with a cap on the back. The truck was exactly as I remembered it. Black on the upper half and silver below it. The maroon interior was the same, the long steel gear-shift with the black ball atop, and the dashboard, the radio, the heat and air conditioning switches all looked the same.
It was clear to me that The Old Man was only down for a visit and time was short. He took me for a ride the same way a divorced father would take his child for weekend visitation. I knew this visit was going to be quick. It seemed The Old Man knew we were pressed for time. He knew he had to take me back home and I was sure he could tell the pain I felt.
Somehow we ended up in the parking lot behind the old hardware store on Front Street. The surroundings of my dream were dated back to my childhood. The old hardware store on Front Street was named Channel and it was situated in the corner store at the strip mall at the Pathmark Shopping Center. This was before Corporate America decided to enter the ring in the hardware business and opened monstrous stores, putting smaller stores out of business. In my dream, the area was the same as when I was a child. This was before the Modell’s Sporting Goods store decided to sell off most of its property to a company like Home Depot. This is the same parking lot where I used to spend time with my young hoodlum friends. trouble happened here,;good things and bad things happened at this place.
I am not sure why I was sat in the backseat. I am not sure why we ended up in this parking lot and I was not sure why we stopped there. The Old Man had to leave. He never said this to me. Somehow, I knew without him saying a word.
“I have to go,” said The Old Man.
I asked him to wait but The Old Man had to get me back home. I could see the explanation in my Father’s eyes—time was limited and he had to go. He did not want me to hurt, but he knew this was unavoidable because I was still too young to understand. I was also too earthly to understand. The Old Man, however, he was not earthly. He was of the spirit.
Something I never had the chance to do was have a beer with The Old Man. I always wanted this, just the two of us, father and son, together.
I suppose The Old Man knew the way I felt about this because there, sitting on the front seat, concealed in a brown paper bag with the top of the bag folded downward three times were two beers.
I remember this dream as clearly as if it truly happened. The Old Man handed me a silver can of Sapporo Beer. After I opened the can, excited to take my first sip and enjoy this moment, I realized in my dream that I don’t drink anymore.
I told The Old Man, “Wait!”
I said, “I almost forgot. I’m not allowed to drink beer anymore,” and true to the spirit of The Old Man’s lack of knowledge about abstinence from alcohol, The Old Man rationalized the moment perfectly.
“Don’t worry,” said The Old Man.
“This is Japanese beer,” he joked.
“Japanese beer ain’t real beer.”
I woke right after this.
Other dreams I had of my Old Man are strange and sometimes sad. One dream in particular; I climbed up an aluminum extension ladder to enter through an upstairs window of white, aluminum sided house. The Old Man was seated inside the room. He was clean and untouched. He was neither naked nor clothed. He was more of a spirit in form than that of a natural man.
He looked at me. For some reason, I felt shame. I couldn’t look at him. The Old Man waved me in the room—but still, I could not face him. Perhaps I felt the same way Adam felt when God the Father saw him for the first time after eating from the tree of knowledge. In this section of the bible, when God called for Adam, he recognized that he was naked and wrapped himself. God the Father asked, “Who told you that you were naked?”
Adam knew he had done wrong. He knew he was about to be punished. This is how I felt in my dream. The Old Man looked at me and I could not look at him. He knew why. He knew why I was ashamed. I recall feeling as if this dream lasted for an entire day. Meanwhile; it is likely that this dream only lasted a few seconds.
My cousin Robbie had a dream once. This dream came to him when Robbie was laid up in the hospital. Unfortunately, Robbie had cancer and his days were coming to an end.
Like most families, my family is crazy. We are all unique. We are interesting in our own way. Everyone in my family has good and bad qualities—some are better at disguising their poor qualities, and others are better at being good. Either way, family is family. In times like this, we all rallied together.
When I came to see Robbie, there was no one else in the room. We talked for a while. We talked about my Old Man and the good old days when everyone was much younger, still alive, and much healthier. Talks like this are important to man at his end.
“I had a dream last night about your father,” Robbie said.
He told me, “It was the craziest thing.”
“Your father was driving a bus. He pulled up and Grandma and Grandpa Ben came out. Uncle Moey was there too. Your father looked good. He was clean and he looked young again—exactly like I remembered him.
Then your father told me, ‘Not to worry.’ He said, ‘When you’re ready, we’re going to come back.’
He said ‘When you’re ready we’re gonna come back to pick you up and you’ll come back with us on the bus.’”
“It really was the craziest dream,” Robbie said.
This was a tough day for Robbie. He wasn’t feeling well at all. What I remember most about this day is how Robbie explained this dream to his father, my Uncle Alan. After Robbie explained the dream, he told his father, “But don’t worry, Pop. Uncle Ronny said I was going to be okay. He said he was going to come down on the bus and pick me up.”
Hours later, Robbie told his father, my Uncle, “I think I’m going to go get on that bus now, Pop.”
I was there to see this. I was there to watch as a father and son reconciled any problems they may have had with each other. Every argument was settled. Their resentments were solved and all that remained was a love between a father and his son.
I was there to watch my Uncle, Robbie’s father, give permission to his oldest son. “It’s okay Robbie. Go ahead.”
I am not sure which is tougher. Was it harder for Robbie to ask permission from his father to let go and pass away, or was it harder for a father to give permission to his oldest son to let go and get on that bus? Either way, Robbie died shortly after.
I have always held on to this story about the bus. I feel there is something to it and I hold it with hopes that one day, when I am uncomfortable and life is at an end, this bus will come for me as well. Robbie will be there. The Old Man will drive. Christine will be there, Aunt Sondra, Uncle Alan, Harry, Grandma and Grandpa Ben—my Mom will be there, and other loved ones too.
Life is inevitable and eventual. There is no compromise with this. We are all on a clock, and the clock is not always fair.
On the day my Mom passed, my brother Dave and I flew down to Florida to say goodbye. Unfortunately, Mom was not well enough to see, talk, or hear us. She was intubated and linked to machines that were breathing for her and keeping Mom alive. Since I was the healthcare proxy, it was me that needed to give the order. It was me that had to give the word and instruct the nurses and doctors to remove the tubes and the machines. Mom had a living will. She did not want to be kept alive by anything artificial. It was my job to make sure Mom passed as she requested.
One thing I will say about Florida—aside from the beauty of its palm trees and the memories I have of my visits, the hospitals are a bit prettier than the ones in New York.
At least I think so . . .
Mom’s room was in the Intensive Care Unit. The head of her bed was at the wall. A large window was at her left, facing a big courtyard, and the interior window facing the nurse’s station was at her right. Mom’s head was facing to her right. She was frozen in position and not moving. She would not respond, nor could she. And sadly, this was her final hour.
Upon removal of all types of artificial life, someone from the hospital came in to explain the next steps. “She may go soon, or she may hold on for a few days,” said a kind woman with a warm, comforting voice. “This is a really hard time,” she explained. I agreed. It was hard.
I was facing the woman. Her back was to the outside window. My brother Dave was facing me, and the nurse assisting Mom was standing beside Dave. Out of the corner of my eye, almost playfully (I swear I saw this) Mom rolled her head and looked at me as if she were playing a game of peekaboo. She was young and playful in that quick glimpse. I looked quickly, but Mom was lying as still as she was before.
Shortly after, Mom passed. I was there when she took her last breath. I was there to hear it and I was there to hear as Mom let go. The nurses drew the curtain across the interior window to allow Mom and us a little privacy for our last goodbye. Dave and I said what we needed to say. Then we walked through the doorway, which was partially covered by the curtain.
Afterwards, I approached the nurse that helped Mom. The nurse was pregnant and close to her delivery date. I thanked her with all my heart. I explained, “Let me tell you why I know you will be an excellent Mom.”
I assume the nurse was not prepared for my little speech. She began to tear and her eyes watered. I offered, “I know you’re going to be a good Mom because you were able to make an unbearable situation bearable for me.”
I said. “And I just wanted to say thank you for that.”
As I was talking, the nurse’s back was towards Mom’s room. Mom was still in there, but that was only her body. In the middle of my thank you (I swear I saw this too) Mom poked her head from the curtain and played peekaboo with me once more. When I looked over to check what I thought I saw, the curtains that draped over the doorway were moving as if someone had just pulled them. As far as I am concerned, someone did pull on them. As far as I know, that was my Mom saying goodbye.
Whether this was my imagination or not, I like the idea of what I saw. In my vision, Mom was young and playful again. In her last moments, I hope the dream came for her. I hope she saw everyone on the bus and The Old Man came down to take her away. I like this bus. I like to believe it will come for me as well (and you too) one day.
As I write to you, I am awaiting word on a loved one about to pass. Perhaps they are dreaming now. Maybe they are dreaming about the bus. Maybe they are dreaming about a room. Maybe it’s a dining room and everyone is there. The table is filled with plates, bowls, and dishes. Everyone is clean, healthy, and there is no more pain, no more anger, and above all, there is no such thing as resentment.
In John 14:2 it says, “In my Father’s house, there are many rooms. If this were not so, would I tell that I go there to prepare a place for you?”
I am not sure if heaven is only a bus trip away. I am not sure if heaven is a dining room, filled with everyone we love and miss, or if it is a castle in the sky. Whatever it is, deep down, I believe in these things. I believe that someday, I will see all of my loved ones again—and we will be reunited once more
Someday . . .