Grief Journal: In Dreams, 2

Lately, I’ve been dreaming of Charlie. 

Not dreams where he visits, just dreams that he is in. 

In one, I am walking in a hospital basement. I know I’m going to the morgue. When I get there, it’s in a former indoor swimming pool—the room is cavernous and echoing, covered in ugly, institutional tile. There’s a giant, empty swimming pool in the middle. At the deepest part of the pool, there is a gurney, and on that gurney there is a box.

It used to be one of those zero-depth entry pools, so I walk along the side, and then down into the pool. Every single step I take, I feel a sense of dread pressing down on me. It’s as if I’m walking through the ghost of the water that used to be there. The further I go, the harder it is to breathe, the harder it is to keep moving forward. Yet I do, and finally reach the box. 

I look inside, and Charlie is there, curled up on his side. In an instant, I am back at the funeral home, walking into the viewing room to see my dead son for the first time. It feels exactly the same—I am reliving the absolute and very worst moment of my life. Everything I felt then, I feel in the dream. I collapse, sobbing, trying to climb on to the gurney, and into the box, trying to hold my Charlie. But he is stiff and dead and cold, and far past needing comfort. All my love blazes into grief, a chemical reaction that burns through my being like fire, leaving ash and pain. 

I wake up with tears on my face, and an aching chest.

In another, I’m on adventure with a bunch of people—details not important. At some point, we achieve our goal of stealing a device that allows you to access alternate universes. Some are almost exactly like ours, while others are really bizarre, like everyone lives in the dark or intelligent spiders rule the galaxy. Anyway. We end up in a world that seems like home, except we all realize that versions of ourselves already exist. I realize that Charlie could exist in this world.

And he does. I find him and run up to grab and hug him, sobbing and crying. I smell his little boy smell, and feel his gangly arms wrap around me. He doesn’t know why I’m upset, but he’s glad to see me. Over his shoulder, I see myself come out of the house, worried about who has my son. But this alternate me doesn’t know what I know. She hasn’t lived what I’ve lived and or lost what I’ve lost. And I am not letting go. 

I wake up with tears on my face, and an aching chest. 

I miss him. I will never stop missing him. Dreams are the only way I can see him now. 

She doesn’t know what I know.