Two in the last two days, but these haven’t felt like supernatural visitations so much as lectures from my subconscious. Fuck you, subconscious.
I found her in a hospital bed, but she looked good nonetheless. She reminded me of how she looked in her hospital bed after she’d delivered Jake. I looked at her wristband and the date was October 2014. So: not dead yet, but not long for this world. Post strife. I was back in time and I had another chance — to apologize, to profess my love, something. I was tearful, agitated, and she knew something was up. She got out of the bed and we walked together — dream transition, now we were in our house, putting our shoes on. I hugged her and told her, “You mean more to me than anything. You know that, don’t you? Tell me that you know that.” But she wouldn’t respond. She wanted to talk about a project for the backyard. “You need to do something about that big pile of soil. Build that island already and be creative. I know you can do it.” We talked about looking on the internet for images so she could show me what she wanted.
Then we were walking in the backyard. (Not my backyard, by the way. Clearly I had been working away at something, but there was still work to be done — an outdoor barbecue to install, that “island” she’d mentioned.) We had some sort of rain-catcher. She opened the valve and skipped out of the way to let the water gush out. Skipped. And she and I were walking in the backyard and she was walking unaided.
I put my hand on her arm. “You don’t have MS, do you?” I said.
“You think I have MS?”
“No,” I said. “I don’t think you have MS,” and I started to cry. I realized I was dreaming — not back in time at all, but in some sort of alternate reality where none of it had happened. None of it. “This is a horrible dream,” I said. “It’s a horrible dream.” I kept saying it and she just sort of looked at me, the picture of impatience. I seemed to see double at that point. There were two of them, both looking at me impatiently, and neither one of them looked like Karen anymore. This woman was white, taller and bigger than Karen . . . she looked like my first grade teacher, really. And she had no tolerance for my blubbering.
And then I woke up.
Yesterday morning’s dream was even more annoying. She was undergoing some sort of expensive treatment for cancer. I was anxious that she might die, but the odds must have been in her favor because the fear of her death seemed somehow foolish.
Anyway, she was explaining to me that we had to get a divorce and it had something to do with our medical insurance. If we divorced but stayed together, nothing would change except for our legal status, but we wouldn’t be as vulnerable to the bills — something like that. I was crying in that dream, too, and trying to explain to her that the idea of divorcing her upset me, because it brought up my other fears, my fears of her dying. And it sounded ridiculous to me even as I put it into words.
Meanwhile, shit that I am, I’m thinking (in the dream) about another woman I knew, and I’m toying with the idea of polyamory. Wondering, against all evidence to the contrary, whether Karen would be fine with it.
And then I wake up and find myself in bed with yet another woman, and my life, MY reality, feels like an alternate reality. It’s not so much that the dream felt real; it didn’t. But this is not my reality. Bra sizes don’t go up to G and David Reuben does not spend most of his chapter on aphrodisiacs talking about genital mutilation surgery in other cultures. My reality is the one where Karen is still alive. And yet when I’m presented with that reality, my reaction is anger and tears and “this is a horrible dream.” Would I really want her back if it meant having her here, broken and in pain? Do I love her so little that I would wish that on her?
This morning’s dream should have been joyful. A normal life with Karen free of disease. And all of my apologies would have been meaningless. What would it matter, the things I did or failed to do in this life? She didn’t care. She was more concerned with the honey-dos.
While we were in the backyard, I asked her how she’d come to be in the hospital. Her explanation didn’t make much sense; it was something about going out in the rain, meeting with a masseuse who made house calls. She caught a chill. It was nothing serious, which was why she could just walk out of that hospital bed under her own power and flow so seamlessly back into a normal life.
A normal life: it makes me laugh a little. Does anyone have a normal life? Precisely how much of my life has been normal?