I wake up in a cold sweat, shaking in a rhythmic pulse. This used to happen all the time, several times a night, but now it’s less frequent.
And it’s different.
In my recurring dream, he has come back. He steps into the traditions of our life together, and he’s just suddenly there, usually making macaroni and cheese alongside me.
Except we can’t find our groove. We don’t know how to share the space anymore. He moves through the steps we always knew, and I try to stay out of his way instead of stepping on his toes, because I want to feel simply glad that he’s back.
But instead, I’m fuming inside. My fingernails make half-moon indents on the inside of my palms. I take a peripheral stance in the dream, my compass spinning, not knowing what I’m supposed to do since he’s in my world again.
In my dream, a voice continues to whisper to me, “Enjoy it now, because you know he’s going to die. Be with him, because he’s not staying for long. Maybe just two or three years.”
In my dream, I am so confused. I don’t know the steps. I don’t know the roles. I don’t know the boundaries.
In my dream, so much has changed, and it’s not just the furniture or the wall hangings. Identities have shifted, confidence has been redefined.
In my dream, I don’t know what to do. Because he’s back. And the voice tells me he’ll leave again.
So I don’t know if I should return to the the girl, the partner, the wife, I was. Or if I should move forward as the me I’ve come to know. I keep my peripheral, spinning stance, confused and angry that everything is upset and unsettled. Angry with myself for not simply delighting in his presence here.
And that’s when I wake up. In the rhythmic, shaking, cold sweat, I am confused and restless: is he back? Did he come back?
Truth hits me like a gust of freezing wind. He didn’t come back. And he won’t.
Then I remember that he will never come back,
that I don’t really want him to,
that I only wish to go to him.
Of all the emotions in the world, the next one I feel is relief.
I am not relieved that he has died.
I am relieved that the decision is made.
(If you can imagine a greater guilt than the feeling of relief, please, just don’t tell me.)