I startled awake from a strange dream this morning.
I was at a family gathering of some inchoate nature, in a house that was an amalgam of several homes I’ve known. My brothers were there. I looked up from the living room and saw all three of them – Mark, Eric and Ted – standing outside on the deck chatting happily. I stared at them; it took a moment for me to realize what was amiss.
Eric came inside, looking excited and relieved. “Mark’s back! He didn’t die. He just went somewhere, and now he’s back.”
Ted joined him, looking slightly irritable but also very happy. “Mark just went somewhere. He’s not gone. He’s back now.”
I didn’t understand. I knew they were wrong. After an awkward moment, I replied, “But… Mark’s dead.”
Ted and Eric cheerfully insisted to me. No, he’s here, look. We were mistaken.
I shook my head in disbelief, but there Mark was, standing right there, looking at me sheepishly, in a stained t-shirt and beat up shorts, just like he always looked. I started to feel excited myself. We approached each other, and I saw that his eyes were the wrong color, a pale eerie blue unrelated to his own gentle brown eyes.
I said aloud, “This can’t be. Mom saw the body. She saw Mark die. Mark, you’re dead.”
But there he was. We embrace each other in a bear hug. I was holding my brother again, tight. Could it be real?
And then his solid substance dissolved. My embrace passed through him. He stood looking at me quietly, a wraith, and I said, “It’s okay Mark. You can go. We’re okay.”
As we drove to physical therapy this morning, I told mom about the dream. I cried a little as I got to the end. Mom stared impassively out the window, and we had a little conversation. I tried to get her to tell me about Mark as a baby, but I think the dream had thrown her for a loop. She struggled to engage and pull the words.
It wasn’t a sad dream, Mom, while I was in it. I’m crying now because I miss Mark, but the dream itself, I didn’t feel sad in it.
It’s a nice dream. Mark hasn’t come to my dreams.
You don’t dream at all anymore, do you.
No, I don’t dream anymore, not one dream.
I don’t know if it was a nice dream, Mom. It was weird.
You’re lucky Mark came to your dream.
Why was I lucky to dream about Mark?
Because you got to see him again.