I just finished reading one of my favorite blogs, Life As I Understand It. In this post she told of a very pleasant dream she had. It was one of those dreams she didn’t want to wake up from. We’ve all had them.
Though I dream almost nightly, I seldom remember what they were about. But every once in a while I have one of those dreams that is etched in my mind forever. This was one of those dreams.
I have three children who are now all grown, each’s age hovering above or just below their 40’s. And yet whenever they are in my dreams, they are always somewhere around 6 to 10 years of age. Why that is, I have no idea, other than because of an eventual divorce, I didn’t actually live with them during their later adolescent years. This particular dream was no acception. But there was one major difference. I was not the equivalent age to them. In this dream I was the age I am now…I had traveled back in time.
In this dream I was driving my car, and made the choice to visit the little town where I raised my children. Once there, I drove down the elm-shaded street we lived on. And there was our home. I smiled. It looked just as it did when I lived there some 27 years before. And then I suddenly took a deep quivering breath. There playing out front were my three children, Ricky, Robbie, and Melissa; around 10, 8, and 6 years of age. When I stopped my car they turned and looked at me, seeming to recognize me but in a confused way.
“Daddy,” Melissa said, “Is that you?”
I stepped out of my car and walked over to them, then knelt down. “Yep, it’s me, your dad.”
“But you look as old as…grandma and grandpa,” Ricky, my oldest, said with a nervous quiver. “And you’re supposed to be at work right now.”
A shock of reality suddenly hit me. What if I were to be here when the younger me came pulling in the driveway from work? I looked at my watch. Good. I wouldn’t be home for another five hours or more.
“What are you doing here?” Ricky asked.
I can remember gently taking Ricky and Melissa’s arms, with Robbie standing in the middle. I remember vividly the feel of their skin, soft and baby smooth. “I somehow came here from the future.”
They seemed to easily accept my answer.
“How old are you now?” Robbie asked.
“How old is dad now,” Robbie once more asked, looking to his older brother. “I mean our dad at work.”
“I don’t know,” Ricky said, “Around thirty-six, I think.
The moment he said that I knew that in just four years their mother and I would be divorced, and the stabbing pain of having to tell those three children I was leaving came stampeding back into my mind. But when they began asking questions, I made the choice not to bring up the subject.
“How old am I in your future?” Ricky asked.
“I think you are now forty-three,” I replied, remembering that in the dream I was fighting back tears.
“And am I still living at home then?” he continued.
“Oh no. You are married to a girl named Tina, and have two boys, Justin and Hayden. And you work in a place that rebuilds semi truck trailers.”
Ricky seemed to be very pleased with his future.
“And what about me?” Robbie asked.
I hesitated, knowing that he would one day have a drug and alcohol problem, and lost a marriage and a good job at a hospital because of it. And now he was living with his mother after a crippling car accident. Not a pretty future. “Well,” I replied, “you are married and work at a hospital,” not telling him his marriage, not to mention his job, were actually past tense, “and you have one son, Robbie Jr.”
He seemed to be happy with the answer without going into any further details.
“What will I grow up to be?” my youngest, Melissa asked.
“Well, you grew up to work for a big insurance company…A very important job.”
“Will I be married, and have babies?” she persisted.
“Well, no,” I answered, “You’re still single, but very happy,” I quickly added, seeing no reason to tell her she would grow up to be Gay. Because she leans toward the male side of the gender, I now just consider her my third son, not to mention my best buddy on Seahawks football night. But at six years old she was just my little curly-haired girl who liked to dress up like Annie. So when she gave me her contented smile my heart melted.
Suddenly, it was as if we all knew our time together was ending, and we were all okay with it.
“Well, I have to go,” I said, standing up.
“Okay, see you later. Bye daddy.”
And that was it. I literally woke up in tears, with a knot in my throat I couldn’t swallow.
If there was ever a message in a dream, this was one. Children grow up far too fast, and, not knowing the future, we take for granted those young years. And in the end the only way we relive those years is through photographs and home movies…or if you’re lucky, like me, a trip back in time through a dream….