Last night I dreamt my late husband was sitting next to me wearing a dark suit, blue shirt and tie. Talk about “all dressed up and nowhere to go…”
Jimmy hadn’t aged a bit. I was just about to ask him what moisturizer he uses, when I opened my eyes, shook away my sleep and sat up knowing he’s been gone for ten years. He’ll always be 56.
I just turned 66 and believe me, very few 56-year-old men would date me unless his name is Quasimodo. Hence, I’m too old to date my dead husband. That realization shouted out how long a decade is.
In my dream I kept playing with his beard. The thing is Jimmy never had a beard. Mickey, my boyfriend, does. I pet it often. I woke up wondering what that meant. I didn’t tell Mickey, afraid he may think that I’m thinking about Jimmy as I touch his beard. I’m not. It was just a stupid dream.
Or was it a sign? I stopped looking for signs ever since, well, ever since years went by and I never got one. Early on my nephew Chuck saw his Uncle Jimmy twice a week.
Once I walked in the house and he said, “You just missed him.” Occasionally, he’d have a message from Jimmy. “He doesn’t like this green color you painted the kitchen…He liked your hair better before you cut bangs…He wants to know why your screen saver isn’t him.”
I’d say, “Chuck, your Uncle wasn’t all that observant in life. As a matter of fact, if I rearranged the furniture and dyed my hair purple he may not have noticed. I have a feeling these feelings are yours!”
Every so often I’d get a compliment. “He’s very impressed that you learned how to pay your bills on line,” Chuck would relay. That one was actually a two in one accolade because bill paying was Jimmy’s department and my computer skill stopped at turning it on.
As any widow or widower knows, honing new abilities is necessary. We adapt because we must. We drag out the garbage cursing the full stretch of the driveway and back. We fume because we didn’t sign up for this. We look up to heaven, “I’m getting older, but you wouldn’t know about that! You and I used to bounce from the car at a rest stop. Now I’m stiff and creaky after a 20-minute ride. I hobble to the Ladies Room and barely make it.”
As Bette Davis said and I said in my last post, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”
Life gives and takes. Poor Jimmy missed out on the joy of being with our grandkids yet he doesn’t have to deal with play dough in his hair. Does he see the humor in this? Does he see us at all?
When the ceiling fan fell, our one year old had just crawled away. Did he protect her? Maybe, but where was he when I left my phone in the cab?
Some report they find shiny pennies on their nightstand and out of nowhere white feathers float about. Aren’t those “universal” signs? How did that come to be? Are we survivors that needy? I wave away that “nonsense” and yet, there’s something familiar about that Robin Red Breast who edges closer than the rest.
Could Jimmy possibly be an inanimate object? Did he turn himself into a tube of lipstick so we could sort of, kind of kiss?
Sometimes my dog Tony, a little guy who only barks when the doorbell rings, stares at the wall and wags his tail. He barks and barks. There’s no sudden swish of cold air they say arrives with spirits, but I give Tony a treat so he’ll bark and alert me next time. And, maybe next time I’ll see Jimmy and it won’t be in a dream.
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This blog was originally published in pathfindermag.com