My ex-husband, Stew, died at the age of 37 from cancer after years of mental illness. There's a long story about it, somewhere.
Stew was in a dream again this morning. It happens every so often, especially when I’m dreaming vivid action dreams, which are similar to action movies except there aren’t any explosions. Car chases, perhaps, but no explosions.
In a part of my dream which wasn’t connected to the plot of the dream (my dreams always have plots, storylines, and a cast of characters), I was in New York, a place I’ve never been to, other than to switch airports, which doesn’t really give one much time to look around. I was in a place that could have been an airport, or a mall, or a large facility with people traveling to and fro and a wide range of vendors. Call it what you will. My dream locations don’t usually come with labels, or if they do the fine print is too small for me to make out.
I stopped for a minute to look at something on a lower level, just a break for a few minutes from either tracking someone or being tracked, because my dreams are exhausting. And on the slightly lower level I could see a row of one-person video game booths, and on the end one something was going on, some kind of championship. I could see the back of the person currently playing, and it looked just like Stew.
It looked like Stew back before he started wearing shorts all the time, for this Stew had on black pants, and it was Stew without the illness that made his life hell, for he was fine in a sea of people. The mental illness, that is, not the cancer, which was its own hell. He turned his head slightly, and it was him, definitely, and he kept playing. He won then, and he won big, and he turned and walked out of the booth and raised both hands in fist pumps. He was happy and he was calm and he was In Control. He turned and walked out of my field of vision, and he went on to life a good life, wherever it was.
I considered going down to the lower level to see it from that angle, it was such a joy to see him so happy, but then realized I couldn’t, it was over, I couldn’t replay it, and I couldn’t change my vantage point. It was just that one moment out of a time that was perfect for Stew, and there was no going back.
He comes to me now and then to give me messages. Like that one. Each moment is its own moment, and there’s no going back to do it over. I’ve been procrastinating on some things, feeling conflicted about others, and generally letting time get away from me. Sure, it’s been a super busy tax season, and continues to be so, but really, is that any kind of excuse? It shouldn’t be.
It’s a manufactured excuse, because it’s not the real reason I’ve been stalled. It’s a convenient side issue that allows me to procrastinate while I combat my feelings of not being good enough to do the additional things I want to do. If I proclaim myself too busy making money (which in this economy is something I truly appreciate being able to do), I can neglect the things that will carry me forward. It’s like playing Whack-A-Mole, just hitting on the immediate issues right in front of me and ignoring the things in the background.
This post was meant to be about Stew, about seeing him happy and whole. I’m sure that after he passed out of my line of sight he had something to eat, something that was no doubt bad for him but tasted great, and he ate it without having to vomit afterwards, without being in pain, and that too would be unusual for him. But like most Stew things, it’s also about me, and the things he taught me, and the things he continues to teach me. He saved me once, when I first met him, and he continues to be there, reminding me of the things I tend to forget. I’m really lucky that way.