The Birthday

I heard a song and these lyrics made me cry. Today would have been my father’s 72nd birthday.

In the almost nine months since he’s been gone, I have heard all sorts of advice:

“He’s in a better place,” with a hefty dose of “It’s God’s Will.”

Yes, I agree. Cancer is an evil disease that creates a very special breed of suffering.

But even as I struggle with my faith, this is one unshakeable truth.

Watching him die was its own torture, and the slow, inexorable march of destruction the cancer wrought on his body and mind haunts me. I think it always will. And certainly railing against God, particularly for something as merciful as finally ending his suffering, will avail me nothing.

“It gets easier.”

Perhaps. It hasn’t yet. Some say I should give it more time. Others, that I should have been feeling better by some specific date or time. Yeah, none of that happened. I just moved my tears to the shower, or the car, when I’m alone and my mind is insufficiently occupied. Honestly, I think people just say this because the alternative is unpalatable.

“It never gets easier.”

I believe this one is true.

Perhaps because I was blessed to not have truly watched suffering, or because before the stakes weren’t so high, it didn’t bother me as much in my teens and twenties when I lost people. Of course, none of them were as close to me as my own father.

But now, faced with the realities of motherhood and mortality, the responsibilities of providing for my children and the worry of aging parents, and cursed with a greater knowledge of the dangers and evils of the world, I know that I will continue to receive this news. With it comes the grief—my own and that of other loved ones. And knowing how much it hurts now, how much others will hurt, how much they will continue to hurt, it makes my heart hurt.

I’m not convinced the pain ever grows easier to bear.

All I know is that I’ll never get to hear my dad’s voice (or advice) again, feel his hand in mine, or share the joy of our lives together.

There is nothing I can do about it.

I can’t fix it.

I can’t take away my pain.

I can only keep myself so busy, my mind so occupied, that I don’t allow my sorrow to consume me.

Because I still feel lost.

Meaning of Bad Dreams

So last night I dreamt…

Lightning flashed across the night-dark sky. I watched from my window and anxiously checked the time. A phone call from my parents indicated they were on their way to drop me off at the airport.

My flight was scheduled to leave around 10:50PM, en route to India. The call sent me into a flurry of activity since I still needed to pack my carry-on bag, the only luggage I was planning to take.

However, I was banking on the flight being delayed due to the bad weather. Yet I still felt very late, since international flights require you to be at the airport 2 ½ hours ahead of your flight. If it was already dark outside, surely it was past 8PM, so I was already late to be at the airport, let alone still be at home with an unpacked bag.

And I still had no idea what to pack, but surely anything would be better than traveling entirely empty-handed halfway across the world.

A bit about my personal habits

Anyone who knows me knows that I take the art of packing to a new level. I have extensive packing lists and seldom forget things. I also select clothes item by item to maximize options while minimizing weight.

For any trip, I usually have my packing list figured out down to make up items and specific jewelry at least two weeks ahead, so when it comes time to pack, it’s a matter of collecting the items, putting them in the packing cube, and zipping up the suitcase.

Dreams and their meaning always fascinate me. My novel, “Dark Empire”, started out as a dream onto which I built a framework to support the idea of a young woman traveling alone toward the mountains to find her best friend. There were red blankets involved that didn’t make the novel.

What does it all mean?

So of course, I had to look into what this dream meant. Some explanations include

  • Fear of change
  • Ambivalence toward making decisions
  • Taking on too much in one’s waking life/being overworked
  • Anxiety about meeting specific deadlines
  • Profound regret about a missed opportunity or decision
  • Deep-seated feelings of inadequacy or frustration

And honestly I could see that all of these interpretations applied to my current feelings.

For the first two, I’m anticipating some significant changes at work, both related to what I do and related to the organization. As far as it relates to me, I’ve been questioning whether or not to make my interests clearer.

Then I’m always committing to extra personal projects, whether in preparation for an upcoming trip or my writing goals, or feeling upset that I can’t do all of those things and have them finished as of yesterday. Add to that a full-time job, two munchkins, and this whole writing venture, I’m pretty sure I’ve got this one covered.

And meeting deadlines…between misplaced stress about a specific upcoming meeting and the number of projects I have open for our trip…

The last two delve deeper. I’ve definitely been struggling with grief, and I can see its role in feelings of regret, inadequacy, and frustration. In combination with some recent annoyances at work, it’s little wonder I would have a dream like this.

So what do I do with this information?

While interpreting a dream doesn’t magically solve problems, I have found it helpful to use the meaning of dreams to identify the problems I might not have properly named without the dream.

Once I know what’s bothering me, I can take concrete steps to fix it or overcome it. In this case, it looks like a project schedule, some electronic reminders, and some guided meditation and yoga will work wonders to reduce these stresses.

Have you had any weird dreams recently? Do you know what they mean?