Grief dreaming.

[From July 12, 2021: So much of my writing in the months after losing my grandfather was centered on trying to process that grief. It was complicated, of course, by the isolation and general grief of the pandemic that was ravaging our country, but even though I spent quite a lot of time both thinking and writing about my grandfather, I never cried. Not once. After a while, it started to really worry me.]

It began with a faceless person quietly taking my hand & leading me down a long corridor to a nondescript hotel room. Once inside, I was directed to a small couch in the center of the otherwise empty, dimly lit room. As I sat down, a movie began to play, not on a television or any sort of screen, but more like a hologram just beyond arm’s reach. As it came into focus, I realized I was watching my grandfather in home-movie style moments, some I’d witnessed, while others were from the scenes captured in the many B&W photographs that hang in my home. As I watched the moving pictures of my beloved grandfather dance before me, tears began to fill my eyes & litter my cheeks. It felt like exhaling a breath that had been caged somewhere deep, deep inside.

When I woke, I immediately touched my eyes to see if I had really been crying or if it had just been an intensely vivid dream. My cheeks were dry, just as they’d been since the day my grandfather died, two months prior. I’d spent those months obsessing about my inability to cry over his death. Although the grief could be unbearable at times, for whatever reason, it hadn’t been marked by tears. I wondered if I was finally broken — whether by our swirling shitstorm’s increasing toll or my own fucked up brain finally throwing in the towel — now rendered unable to do even the most basic task of grieving.

When I finally told a friend about my “dream crying” several weeks later, I asked if it was a sign that I was now, finally, broken beyond repair. “How fucked up is this,” I asked, before telling her about the faceless person, the hotel room, and of course, the flickering images of my beloved grandfather, all bathed in my tears. My friend replied, in the special way a trusted friend of thirty years can, “I think your body just found a way.

In the six months since I had that first dream, it’s returned a handful of times. There’s always the same faceless person taking my hand, the same couch, and the same moving-pictures movie. There are always tears, too, then I wake feeling that same relief of a long overdue exhale. I’m not sure why my body has decided to grieve in this way and, if I’m being honest, I still struggle with feeling more than a bit broken, but I’m trying to see the beauty in my grief finding its own way.

I miss you, grandpa.

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