A few years ago my dad passed. Which is something that is as natural as rain.
Every living thing dies. It’s the risk we take in living. And, it is in our nature to develop coping mechanisms to deal with these losses, so we eventually are able to move on with our own lives.
But, every once in a while, something, like a song, a smell or a place reminds me of him and it makes me stop and think about our turbulent relationship. I think about what it would be like if he was still alive. If we would have finally been passed disagreeing over everything. And then I quickly move on to whatever I was doing.
The other night, however, I had a dream. I had an almost too real dream. With him. With my dad. There’s no moving on from a dream. You can’t push it to the back of your mind and continue dreaming. You’re stuck. I know that this may seem exciting to most, but let me remind you that the man is dead. And I don’t know about you, but hanging out with a dead person is not my way of spending a good night’s sleep. Really. I don’t care how funny Lenny Bruce is, if he’s dead, he’s not allowed to creep into my nighty-night time.
What was weird about this dream was it was very much in the present. I knew he was dead and he knew he was dead. That and he looked a little weird in the dream. Not scary weird, but there was something up with his eyes. Like he was having trouble keeping them in their sockets. I swear it was something out of Beetlejuice. I wanted to tease him about it, but I was too busy freaking out about the dead guy in the room.
Right, the room. That’s the other weird part.
It was night-time and I was sitting in a screened in porch. This porch had a chair and desk with a computer at one end and a bench at the other. I was sitting at the bench, fiddling with my phone, when my dad spins around in the computer chair to look at me.
At this point, we just stare at each other, which is when I notice his googlie eyes.
From the bench, I shouted hello and he said hi right back. It was awkward. Which made it very real.
“So, how’s it going?” he said. “Fine, fine.” I quickly replied.
But that exchange was really code for an underlying conversation:
“So, how’s it going?” = “Still unemployed?”
“Fine, fine.” = “Yes! Yes, I am. I can’t believe you’ve come all the way from where ever you were to rub it in. Ugh, you’re so annoying. I couldn’t study accounting, I can’t add!”
That exchange (verbal and non-verbal) would have been the extent of our conversation when he was among the living. But, this was different. We were on a porch and he was dead, with serious eye issues I might add.
I suppose this was going to be the moment when we finally spoke about life and its meaning and how proud he was to have a daughter like me. And I would tell him that I always loved him, even when I acted like I hated him.
While I was bracing myself for the emotional rollercoaster, the dead man walked across the porch and sat next to me on the bench. Up close, inches away, you can really tell he was dead. And, I was a little weary about giving him a kiss and a hug. Luckily, much like his living self, he didn’t ask for it. He just sat next to me.
With his bony finger, like in the movie ET, he slowly pointed at my iPhone and asked me what that was.
I raised my iPhone to his sight line, so he didn’t have to hold his eyes in his face with his fingers, and I patiently explained the App Store, showed him games and watched videos. We laughed about dial-up and the terrible sound it made and laughed more at our poor imitations of the sound.
For a moment, I forgot it was a dead guy next to me. It was just my dad. My dad and my iPhone.
I noticed that he had become distracted from the phone talk and asked him what was wrong. He replied that he was not feeling well. So I held him. Without thinking twice. I held him.
And we sang our favorite song, together, in tune, until I woke up.