I dreamed of Dave the other night. He was alive, now. It had all been a trick. He had actually survived the heart failure and somehow I hadn’t known all this time. He was solid and real, but very changed after his near death experience and I was so relieved that he had survived.
The Dave I knew was Mr. Practicality. In his opinion tattoos were pointless and wasteful. Why would anyone want to spend money to have a needled poked into their skin repeatedly and then have to cover the ink up to get a decent job? This practicality was deeply ingrained in him. Spending time philosophizing or discussing emotions or thoughts or dreams was also pointless to him.
In my dream, being on the brink of death had changed him drastically. He had acquired several large, colorful tattoos in the time we'd been apart and he was emotional and philosophical. He spoke of life and what it means and how his view of it was so changed by his NDE.
Even though he wasn’t the Dave I knew, I was more in love with him than ever and couldn’t get enough of him. I felt proud to show him off to everyone. “SEE? He didn’t die, everyone! And he’s so COOL with his tattoos and his complex emotions!” I felt like I had a war hero for a husband. He had just returned from a dangerous call to duty and though he was more complex than before he left, he was still the one I loved. Just changed.
I wonder if this dream actually reflects how much I’ve changed since he died. How much more I risk. How much more I turn inward and try to process my feelings and my thoughts. I’ve been considering a tattoo since Dave died and often think about what it might be. I was always more open to tattoos, being the artist in our marriage and I was always more emotionally open, but I’m so much more so now. I’m not sure if he’d even pick me if he met me now. I’m not sure if we’d have much in common. It’s as though our paths took off in different directions when he died. I did not keep traveling down the road I was traveling with him. I stepped off that road and took a very different one. One that is carrying me farther and farther away from my old life.
A part of me feels a tiny stab of guilt at this. How much did that old life mean to me if I can just abandon it now?
But it’s not as if that life was easy to abandon. It was just what I needed for survival. Some need to hang on to every detail and keep things just like they were before their spouse died. Some, apparently me, need to start over.
Starting over is scary, even though it’s what I’ve wanted, because it risks walking so far away from the previous life that it fades away into the distance, eventually too far away to see anymore. At least that’s my fear. But, I’m guessing that fear is unfounded. Just because it’s far away, doesn’t mean it’s in danger of disappearing. And things can be far away in space and time, but not in the heart. I don’t know why there is a drive in me to distance myself from that former life. I know a lot of it comes from realizing just how short life really is and that postponing some of my dreams is riskier than the risk of giving up some stability. But, there is relief for me in not being surrounded by reminders of what I’ve lost.
I want that life back, but since I can't have what I want I keep moving forward. Toward what, I have no idea.