I had a dream a few days ago. It’s that time of year when the dreams come to the surface and I have to ask myself where the stories are coming from. It’s strange sometimes being a white girl who’s had the good fortune of having traveled with traditional Anishanaabe people. It makes the questions much tougher, the more you know about yourself the more questions that you have sometimes.
Anyway, in my dream I’d gone home and was visiting my 90 year old father and while there he passed on in my arms. It wasn’t a nightmare, not at all. In the dream, I got to say my goodbyes, watch the life leave his eyes, and hear the death gurgle as I lay his head down on the pillow. It was gentle and it was ok. He was ready to move on and see those who he misses and hasn’t seen in many years.
It’s a strange thing to have a dream like that. Dad is still kicking. I talked to him later that day, told him I love and that I see him in my siblings and my nieces and nephews. I think perhaps the dream was a reminder to let him know that even when he’s gone, he’ll still be here. We won’t forget him. He has made all the difference in our lives.
Still it’s a hard time. Dad has been graced with good health and a strong mind for most all of his life. In his ninth decade he’s slowing and his mind isn’t working as it once did. I find myself wondering how to deal with this. I want to go home and see him for the holidays and at the same time I want to see the man that I knew when I was growing up and he’s gone.
The man who taught me so much no longer recognizes some of the people and places that he’s known for years some days. He doesn’t have Alzheimers or anything like that or at least nothing has been diagnosed. He has old age. He knows that his mind isn’t working as it used to. He misses his memory and his cognitive capabilities. As his mind leaves, it is almost as if who he was is already dying while his shell remains. He is getting to mourn his own death while we watch it together.
I am reminded that death is not all about sadness. It is about a transition to the next phase. I wonder how this transition goes? How do I simply sit with this both feeling the sadness and being open to the joys. I suspect that there must be joy and other feelings too. It’s just a question of feeling them.