What if you get trapped in a dream? What if you get trapped in a dream in a dream? Every kid asks, “What if I don’t wake up?” And yet, we always wake up. We mostly always wake up. I had forgotten that I used to deeply fear that fade to black.
Sometimes it’s hard to live with “What If” scenarios if you think about them too much. The truth is, those things rarely happen, if at all. Our bodies seem meant to build responses and walls and immunities to such things happening – where they see fit. And maybe sometimes where they don’t. Human bodies are brilliant creations. Human minds are even better.
It’s why you have to go to the bathroom badly, the second you get home. To comfort and opportunity. As if you didn’t have to go before that very second. As if your body wasn’t just waiting for the right signals to tell you what you already know.
Last night I had a vivid nightmare, about thinking, and I was walking down the street in the dream thinking, “How can we live so fully, knowing we could die at any time?” It could happen at any point, yet we mostly live like it won’t. Until it does.
There’s a fuzzy feeling I get, all tied to life and death. It’s like at the very core, I have my most phobic feelings of an eternal afterlife, or lack thereof, and any kind of fade to black. Then surrounding that phobic core, is everything I hold too near – everything related to life and death. Sometimes it’s growing pains. Sometimes it’s sensory overload. Recently, I’ve started to pinpoint when it can happen – when voices are rising and smells are growing stronger and the heat kicks on and the lights are too bright. When my brain is trying to fade to black, and my heart is trying to fade to light. Or maybe I have that in reverse.
What if I have an existential crisis again – which don’t come around here no more (too much) because I live in a world – parenting – in which every little things does matter, and every little thing she does is magic, and it all matters anyway?
All points lead to death, but all points really lead to life – and that is the point of all of it. I have always thought it, although it gains more clarity. And less. Living is the point of life no matter how you can get through it, whether you choose, or are chosen, to swim through, fly through, sail through, ride through, stay six feet (give or take) above, instead of six feet below.
The static and the fuzz in my brain and in my ears are like the wrong station on the radio – fading in and out – or when your movie ends in the VCR and the TV isn’t set to the right channel. Black and white and gray and loud. In a world of vivid color.
And I think that’s just the point in which life, death, light, dark, color, black and white, fears, dreams, anxiety, and LOVE, meet in the middle – like different frequencies on the radio – always searching, always moving, and not fading to black.
I’m not sure if the above post was supposed to be the ONLY post in today’s Finish the Sentence Friday prompt – “When it comes to death” – or the one below was supposed to be the only one! After this, I wrote everything below in 2010 when Scarlet was a baby, and this blog was an even newer baby. I wanted you to know something about me, before reading.
“I’m going to talk about something important here today and I’m really not sure how it’s going to go. And that’s ok. I’m using my wedding program again as reference. When we wrote our wedding program, I was smack in the middle of a writing dry spell that lasted a few years. I must have rallied everything I had in me to get the program and our wedding vows done. It was just that important. Not to mention, the impending marriage instilled in me a desire to re-evaluate the people who had left my life too soon because I was strongly noticing how much I wanted them there on my guest list and sitting at the special tables during the reception. I had two special parents to walk me down the aisle, and if you count Cassidy’s family, I gained four new parents the evening we got married. Six parents. Six strong, supportive, loving parents. I am so lucky.
I’ve spent most of my life slowly putting puzzle pieces together to solve a puzzle I’ll never actually solve. I’ll come damn close, though. It’s the puzzle of who my father was. I’ve got some flat-ended pieces of my father from here and there as I, like many other puzzle solvers, like to make the border first. I know where he was born, where he went to school, what didn’t work for him career wise, and what worked for him incredibly well. I know that he was handsome, sarcastic, charming and neurotic. I know he could polish off a bag of chips and a half dozen White Castle burgers in one sitting and that running made him puke. I know that those things didn’t help to prevent his untimely death at 36-years-old from a massive heart attack. I know that it happened in front of me three weeks before my 4th birthday and that the whole house shook from the impact of his tall body falling to the floor. I know that when the ambulance wheeled him out, that was the last time I saw him.
I don’t talk about these graphic images to free them from my soul. They’ve been freed many times over. I talk about them to put them out there. No mysteries here. So that’s my good, strong puzzle border. I’ve taken it apart and put it back together many times as I’ve grown older and more truths have been revealed to me. There are empty spots in my border but that’s ok because that’s info I can always find through research. It’s the juicy middle pieces that I’m lacking.
About a year after I graduated college, I took a job as a school photographer in Dover, NJ where I was in charge of class photos. I mostly worked in Morris County schools around where I grew up and it was also where my father taught 5th and 6th grade at Fernbrook School in Randolph. I didn’t get out to the school much but they had planted a cherry blossom tree when he died and also donated a plaque in his name. I knew the school had hired my company for school pictures so I arranged to work that day. I didn’t really know what to expect by going there after so many years. Obviously I knew it would be emotional but I just went there with an open mind. Most of the teachers were younger so I finally spoke with an older teacher who would have worked with my father. I don’t remember his name but I mentioned that my father had worked there and had died and before I could say more than that, he just looked me over and said, “Steven Klein.” I nodded and his eyes got wide.
He said something that resonates with me very often: “I can see him in my mind today as clearly as if it were still 20 years ago.” He also called him charismatic, powerful, and funny. He showed me his old classroom. When I got in my car after work, I had a breakdown that I was able to pinpoint the cause of: my father has always been described to me as such an amazing man and I was his daughter and never got to learn that firsthand. I was robbed. I know we were close and I have scattered memories of spending time with him but I never got to know him through anything but a very small child’s eyes.
I’ll never know what it was like to sit in a room with him. I have his amazing metabolism but we’ve never shared a pizza. I have his sarcasm but I’ve never heard his jokes. I have the feeling of having been loved by a strong father but I’ve never gotten to look at him and watch the good just radiate out.
Every now and then I play a question and answers game with my mom to get to know more about him. It happens in chunks and it’s always relevant to something going on in my mind. When I was scared to go to the doctor to get my heart checked out, I asked all about his medical history. (My heart is just fine)
When I was falling in love with my husband, I asked my mom what it was like to fall in love with my father. Today I referenced my previous post about all my quirks and fears and asked my mom about my father’s quirks and fears. He was a stubborn mule as I am. He got set in his ways sometimes and just refused to try something new. My father wouldn’t snorkel or try lobster. He wouldn’t sit in the backseat of a car and he hated many white foods. If given the choice to snort cocaine or go shark diving, he’d snort cocaine. I’d go shark diving. Anyway, sometimes it’s just fun to play 20 questions with my mom. He died a long time ago and I’m most sorry we can’t just hang out as adults. All I can do is love my daughter the way he loved me and never stop asking more questions about him. There’s people out there whose brains I haven’t picked. His older brother is one of them. Someday. My mom remarried and my dad got to walk me down the aisle. And he raised me. And his granddaughter loves him very much, as do I. I lost a father but I also gained a whole new family.
This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “When it comes to death..” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on any of the matters: HERE.