I have the tremendous benefit of taking part in lucid dreams, dreams in which my conscious mind ensures my subconscious that what I'm dreaming isn't real. My lucid dreams are usually nightmares, and their intensity ranges from momentary fear after awakening, to feeling the entry wound of a bullet to the head for several hours after awakening. I woke up one night after the latter dream and there was a circular spot on my temple that was hot to the touch on the perimeter of the bullet entry. Where I'd been shot in my dream was tender and pulsing with pain. I'd rather never experience that again. While my dreams are often intense, none were more emotionally strenuous than my last lucid dream.
I dreamed about a man familiar to me. It was his last day with us and I had the chance to meet him where he was, at an amusement park, to say goodbye. Katie, my sister, was there and said goodbye, as well as two boys who I did not recognize. Kate grabbed the man and gave him a tight, very big hug. His name was Don. Don was my eldest brother, a 46-year-old softball umpire and lover of all peoples. Don passed away unexpectedly on May 31st, 2016. It's been a year since my brother died, and it's been a week since I first dreamed about him.
My memory skips like a warped record and I've lost the conversation Katie and Don share. I couldn't wake up fast enough to recall what they said, and that part of the dream has gone. When I showed up in the dream, Don was leaning on a fence and was trying to give me thirty dollars.
At first, he handed me wet paper that had begun sticking to six dollars, a five and a one. I remarked the thirty dollars wasn't in there and it didn't matter, anyway. He was so cool to offer anything and I'd take wet paper just to say later that my brother extended his hand to help me. He scrambled around and was confused about where the money had went, then handed me a white plastic bag, positive the money lied within.
It was important to him that he gave money to me before he died, so I shuffled through the bag. At some point, I dropped the bag and it's contents spilled across the ground. Still fumbling with paper and napkins in my hand, I stepped onto the contents that had fallen out: Taco Bell sauce packets. Sauce shoots across the ground like toothpaste squeezed too harshly through the tube.
I kept digging for the money, which wasn't there, and tried desperately to pay attention to him rather than the cash. But, he was sure that money was meant to be mine. My conscious mind kept trying to inform me that this was a dream, not a reality, and that my brother was gone. Finally, I woke up with my puppy pressed across the left side of my body and my heavy eyelids struggled to open.
Several things found within the dream are takeaways, for me. I've been wanting Taco Bell for days, first. That's easy, kind of hilarious. Don also managed a Taco Bell when I was a child, and my other brother worked under him. That business has always been important to me in that regard. We ate lots of custom burritos in those days. Potato and steak burritos reigned in our household.
I finally awaken enough to type up this recollection and roll over on my back. My sleepy pup transfers all of his energy to move in between my legs. Here we lie, awkwardly sprawled and bent up like the body of a figure during Picasso's impressionist period.
The money is also rife with duality. I'm currently under "bill pressure" in that I may have more bills than funds. So, thirty bucks is thirty bucks, and the brother of my dream-self knows this. Don also knew this in reality and lived by that mantra, "thirty bucks is thirty bucks"(insert amount as is needed).
Of course, my brother being somewhat accessible before he passes on is obviously a "dream" to so many people who have lost unexpectedly. Wouldn't it be bittersweet to have a moment to say goodbye to someone who knew their time was done? Of course. This is important to the narrative.
Lastly, and most important, attached to the psychology of mine and my brother's relationship is the feeling of distraction. My brother was a master of distraction. He often left me furious during the middle of my storytelling at parties because he knew the exact moment when to say something that would rattle my focus.
He relished in the look I gave him of pure hatred for distracting me during something I was talking about. My focus factor has never been the greatest, and he was like a keeper of my abilities, in some function. He gaveth and tooketh away at random. All he had to do is say one word, sometimes repeating me, and my whole brain short circuited. I hated it. I'd give anything to have those moments back. I digress.
The fact that he's trying to distract me from the emotional pain he feels for having to leave is so perfect for the type of relationship we shared. The thirty dollars was probably never there. It was the hunt and the offering that was important.
He wanted to take care of me by giving me money, a sentiment that echoed in the several years he made sure I got paid good money as an umpire. It was a distraction from the fact that we both had to do something unfathomably difficult: say goodbye.
You see, the lucidity within this dream wasn't knowing how to wake myself from a terrifying experience, a demon sitting on my chest, or the sensation of a sizzling bullet hole in my temple. It was knowing, all the while wishing and hoping, that my brother truly was gone, and that his appearance in this dream was just leftover bits of my memories with him.
I had a dream about my dad years ago that I've not forgotten. It ushered in peace over his death and helped me put into perspective the kind of man he always was. And, the dream felt like a good way of recalling his countenance. With this dream, though, it was not recalling happiness; this dream was a reminder that I never got to say goodbye to my brother.
He had been in Kansas City when he slumped over in the passenger seat of his friend's truck, sending Bill into a panic because Don wouldn't respond to him. I hadn't talked to Don in two days, only because we spoke two or three times a week. While I told him I love him and we said goodbye over the phone days before, the day he passed, none of his family were given a moment to reflect with him before his time here ended.
Few families ever do. I'm on the fence which situation is worse: losing someone unexpectedly, or expecting it and waiting for them to die. Both are horrendous, honestly. Look, I'm thinking of every way I can phrase "he died" without outright saying it, and it's just so painful, any way I say it.
This is the first I've dreamed of Don, and it was a tough dream to have. My dream-self cried, Katie cried, and one of the unknown children cried, while the other gave a regretful grin. This dream wasn't easy and I'm sure it won't be the last.
It gave me a bit of perspective on my brother. It put into place a summary of our relationship. It will help a little to recall the pain I felt wishing I could say goodbye. The moment, of course, was a moment I didn't get to experience in reality. None of us did. But, this dream serves to tame down my embittered nature. He is missed. The puppy snores.