I use the term dream lightly. It was a nightmare.
I came home and the house was empty and I was calling for Melvin and Jake. I searched the entire house and panic overtook me. I started making calls, running around the neighborhood. Screaming their names. It was one of the worst dream moments I’ve ever had.
People came but they wouldn’t help me look for them. Not in a mean way, they would just stand there and watch me and listen to me. But they wouldn’t help me look. I frantically begged them to help me but they just kept saying you won’t find them. I was crying so hard, my heart was pounding.
A man came over to me and said, go through that door, maybe you can find them in there. I tore the hinges off of that door opening it and I ran in desperate to see my boys.
I found myself in a giant maze inside a building that was the size of a city. There were hallways and staircases and ramps but no rooms. I started running and screaming Melvin and Jake’s names. At every dead-end, someone I knew was standing there and they would say, you won’t ever find them again.
I continued to run and scream their names and I hit a dead-end each time. The same words were repeated to me, that they would never be found. The dream went on for what felt like eternity. I was exhausted but I refused to give up. I would have stayed there forever, looking for them.
I woke up screaming and sweating. Unable to breathe. I sat on the edge of the bed and then walked around to shake it off. I eventually fell back asleep.
The next morning I laid in bed thinking about the dream. I thought about how horrible it was. How tormented and helpless I felt.
Then all of a sudden, I got it. That nightmare, is me.
That nightmare is all the feelings I carry with me. It’s who I am now that Melvin and Jake are both gone. It’s not the whole of me, but there is a part of me that feels a painful hole from having lost my little family. My perfect little family. That city sized maze with stairways and ramps and hallways that I was running through blindly, is my grief.
I took a deep breath and reminded myself that above all else, I’m grateful they were mine to love. That we found such a lovely balance is one of life’s greatest gifts of joy. The dream was not the story. The story is love.
Losing both boys required me to start over in a lot of ways. I am not the same person I was after I lost Melvin. I am most definitely not the same person since losing Jake. I wouldn’t say I’m better or worse, I’m just a more current version of me. I’m still figuring me, without them, out. That Doug wasn’t part of the Melvin and Jake era doesn’t make him any less perfect. That he wasn’t in the dream doesn’t mean that he doesn’t fit. It actually is more along the lines of me not fitting. Like life continues and I have to reinsert my new self back into it and that new self is not technically new. I have memories and I often want to go backwards to how it was as much as I want to go forward and see how it will be. I think the dream is a reminder that I still have to work to do. As I continue to build on life moving forward, a new family structure will grow that can’t be and shouldn’t be painted from a memory. It should, however, be influenced by the same love.
I have started looking for a new dog. I spend a lot of time thinking about who that dog should be (to me and to Doug). Who that new dog is can’t be fully determined until he or she is here, which is part of the problem about even trying to envision it or wanting to be one way or another. It will be how it will be. I do happen to have faith in my ability to pick awesome dogs. I’m excited to see how the next dynamic duo plays out.
To all of you reinserting yourself back into life. I get it. It’s a maze sometimes, but new chapters must be written if we want our story to continue.
As 2016 nears its end, it would be easy for me to say this was a terrible year and to want 2017 to arrive already. The truth is, I’m OK if this year lingers a little longer. This year is the last year I had Jakey here with me. So despite his cancer, his death, the grief and even the blood clots, I want to stay here as long as possible. I’m familiar with this wind down to the end of the year. I felt the same exact way last year about Melvin.
This year is also the year of Doug! And that makes it all kinds of beautiful too. I’m very excited about the adventures Doug and I will have next year and curious as to who might join us on our journey of love and exuberance.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah! Happy everything! We hope with all of our hearts that you find your joy!
xoxo – T&D