Last night, I reached a new milestone in my grief. Marrett visited me in a dream, but even in the dream we both knew that he was dead. He looked dead. He smelled dead. He even tasted dead (yes, he kissed me in the dream and it was gross). But he sounded so very alive.
When I say he visited me in a dream, I mean it very much like it sounds. I have dreams about him all the time, where he is just part of the nonsense world of the dream and I wake up knowing my subconscious is processing a bit more of his death. Then there are the visitation dreams. I wrote about his visitations early on, when they were even happening in my waking life, but as time passes, he visits me most often in those early morning dreams just before waking.
This morning, he walked into a darkened room at someone else’s house where I was waiting for a friend. And he spoke. I heard his voice, distinctive and clear, before I saw his face. He said, “I just came to hold your hand for a minute and see how you are”. Then he did just that. I told him we are all doing fine, but that the ache of missing him has been stronger lately, so I was glad he showed up. I told him it was good to see his face.
“Even though I’m dead?” he asked with that playful grin he wore so often in life. Then he stuck out his tongue and it was black. Suddenly, I could see the decay in his face, as he continued to make jokes about it. When he kissed me, his mouth tasted like dust. Even my subconscious is no longer holding on to his living self.
These visitations leave me shaken. I would not trade them for the world, because I will always be glad to see him and feel his presence with me. But these brief and increasingly rare moments of togetherness break my heart all over again, and I come back to being alone with fresh pain. And this one felt especially tender, with his death-marked body visible, as if the distance between our living selves is becoming insurmountable.
This is part of the grief journey, of course, especially if you do it well. But it is perhaps a new layer of grief on top of the old, that my heart has healed so much that my connection to Marrett is loosening. I know from reading and listening to other mourners that my experience is common, the forgetting of details as my life continues to march away from his death. In a way, I am glad for the pain left by his visit, because it is the assurance that our love still lives, even if he is dead in my dreams.