SOCS: Dreams Of My Father

Today’s topic is Dreams.

**********************

After my dad died, I had dreams about him constantly. I doubt a night went by that I didn’t dream of him. Mostly these dreams were simple – just letting me know he existed or giving me a look of love. We didn’t talk. These dreams were always vivid and in color. I don’t think I’ve ever dreamed in black and white.

Yesterday I was driving in the car with Jack. The Eagles came on the radio and I shouted, “Noooooo!” before quickly changing the station. Jack asked why I had reacted that way, so I told him the story of how my dad used to play Eagles songs on his guitar while sitting in the park. Ever since my dad died (back in 1991) I can’t listen to an Eagles song without wanting to throw up.

“These songs make me miss my dad.”

Telling Jack this brought back emotions that I haven’t felt for years. I finally made peace with my dad’s death around the time I got pregnant with Jack. This year in June, for probably the first time ever, I didn’t even think about the anniversary of his death. Still, with this one sentence, I felt his loss again.

It didn’t make me sad to access those feelings again, though. Instead, I was proud of myself for remembering him, for still feeling that connection, for being able to carry on and yet still be human.

I miss my dad, but I’m okay. I don’t need to dream about him anymore to know he loved me.

I still refuse to listen to The Eagles, though.

**********************

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post over at Jana’s place.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.

Truthiness Day 14: Goodbye to you

Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)

Dear Dad,

Where do I begin?

When I was a child you were the person I looked up to the most.  You were smart, good looking and talented even beyond music, art, and sports.  My world revolved around you; when my mom told me to go to sleep so that I could wake up and see Mr. Sunshine, I thought she was talking about you.

With all that you had going for you, I don’t understand how you could do the things you did.  You seemed to carry so much life, yet you destroyed that light with drugs.  You then left the evidence behind for me to find and I had to ask my mother, “Why is daddy sniffing sugar?”  How could you pack your things and leave my mom while she was 6 months pregnant with your third child together?  Do you know that she had a panic attack when she came home to an empty house?  You then proceeded to max out the credit card buying things for your new girlfriend while my mom worked the night shift at the gas station to make ends meet…while your girlfriend was being swathed in the fur coat you bought for her, my mom was held up at gun point on more than one occasion.

You were neglectful and reckless.  You left me in charge of my younger siblings while you went out to party before I was even 9 years old.  You nearly drove us off the side of the levee into the river in your VW Bug regularly just so you could get a thrill.  I still can’t get anywhere near the side of a cliff without dealing with panic and vertigo.  I also can’t pick up the telephone without suffering severe anxiety thanks to your yelling at me for forgetting phone numbers when calling Information on your behalf.

Recently I learned that you hit me in the stomach because I left the table without asking for permission.  I was 3 or 4 years old.  I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that one.

I’ve heard a lot of excuses for the things you did, and so much blame has been shifted to others.  I think my grandparents still put you up on a pedestal, believing that you were their golden boy who could never do wrong.

I missed you for a long time after you died.  Now I can’t help but think of how much more damage you would have caused in the lives of others if you had lived past 30.  I barely remember the good things because there is just so much bad to eclipse them.  I wish I could still pretend that you were a good dad.  I wish I still had my hero.

Sincerely,

Crystal

Visitation and missing pieces

One of the hardest parts about divorce with a child involved comes from custody and visitation arrangements. Joe and I manage pretty well with figuring this stuff out, but there are always issues somewhere!

For some reason the judge is requiring that I fill out forms (an ORDER, as verbiage in the settlement agreement just won’t do!) about which holidays belong to each parent, how many days a week each parent has, and how much support is owed. The bizarre demand for these forms is the main reason why the divorce is not yet finalized. It is frustrating because filling out the extra forms is repetitive. Also, apparently they are not required of everyone so the company I paid to draw up the papers was surprised to have to generate these forms on top of the settlement agreement! Arg! Leave it to the government to make a fairly straight-forward divorce waaaaay more complicated.

I’m not entirely sure how others arrange visitation with their exes. When I was a kid, we went to see my dad every other weekend. That seems like a ridiculously small amount of time to me now. I don’t know how my parents chose that arrangement or why anyone would really. Perhaps it was just a different time, or maybe it’s just that my dad’s lifestyle was less kid-friendly. As a child I disliked this arrangement for a couple of reasons. The first was that I wanted to see my dad more than once every two weeks. In addition, it was difficult to get into a routine when we went so long between visits. By the time the visitation weekend came around, I just wanted to stay home because I felt unused to my dad’s house again. Of course, after the weekend was over I didn’t want to leave.

In any case, the visitation arrangement between Joe and me is mostly based on our work schedules. Unfortunately equal custody was not possible at that point in time as Joe moved an hour away and we wanted to keep Jack’s daycare stable. Joe is a park ranger and his job changes seasonally, as does his schedule. He usually gets one weekday and one weekend day off. I work a typical Monday through Friday 9-5 week with Saturdays and Sundays off. Last summer when we split up, it just seemed to make sense that Joe would take Jack on his days off since they were different than mine and I’d have Jack with me more. This precedent has continued and Jack generally goes to see his dad for 2 days each week – Joe picks Jack up from daycare on Thursday and brings him to my place on his way to work Sunday morning.

We’ve tossed around other arrangement ideas, such as switching every other week, but so far we’ve stuck with what we have. It seems to work well for Jack, so I’m afraid of changing things up. Even so, I always wonder if there is a better way, especially with how things have been going lately. I have Jack five days a week, and four of those days he goes to daycare. I effectively have one day each week where I get to focus on my kid and four days where I’m carting him to and fro and splitting my attention a million different ways. I fully admit that I envy Joe’s two workless days with Jack each week. Not only does Joe get more quality time with Jack, but he also doesn’t have the daily daycare drop-off to deal with or the struggle between needing to rest after work and wanting to enjoy time with his child.

I am not writing this to say “woe is me” with regard to how things have worked out. I know that it is incredibly lucky to have things running so smoothly in a divorce situation. This is just an area that was difficult to imagine prior to the separation and I feel the need to put it into words. At any given time one of us is losing out on time with an individual we love and need desperately. We are happier and healthier than we were a year ago, but one of us is always missing something.

The First Man I Saw Crying

Annika linked to a photo collection of male actors crying today and I had an immediate reaction to the photos.  I know this is completely different from what I usually write, but I think it’s worth sharing here.  I realize this could be a sensitive topic to many, so feel free to pass on by today.

His strained voice called to us from the only bedroom in the basement apartment. “Kids, come in here. I have something to tell you.”

The air thickened around me. I shuffled my seven-year-old sister and five-year-old brother from the living room into the bedroom where our dad stood bent, hands braced against a dresser for support. The three of us lined up inside the doorway, blue eyes wide and staring at the broken man before us.

“Sit down,” he whispered.

My sister and brother complied, but I stood there frozen. At nine years old, I knew just enough about the world to know when something was wrong. When my father began to choke on his tears, I thought of my step-sister’s tentative words to me during a recent visit…

“Your dad has AIDS. That’s why he keeps going back into the hospital.”
“He does not have AIDS! I would know if he did!”
“Yes he does, Crystal. I overheard my dad talking to your mom about it.”
“I don’t believe you. You’re lying!”

Fear flamed in my chest and I ran away from that room. I didn’t want to hear what my dad had to say, didn’t want him to know that I knew already, and most of all I didn’t want my step-sister’s words to be true.

I grabbed my dad’s car keys on the way out the door and locked myself into his rusty grey VW Beetle, sobbing. I kept hoping that he would come after me, that he would tell me that I had no reason to run away and no reason to be afraid. He did not come. I sat alone and cried until I was dry, until my head felt water-logged and achy. I wiped away the tears and waited what seemed like hours until the swollen skin around my eyes returned to normal. I steeled myself and walked back into the apartment.

My dad’s courage had left him when I ran out the door and he said nothing of what he had been about to tell us. We ate lunch instead and the day continued as normal. Life went on for a little while.

My siblings and I pretended (or forgot) that the breakdown had never happened. It was a shock to us when our dad died some time later, and we believed it when we were told that Meningitis and Encephalitis had killed our father.

AIDS did not cross our minds until years after it changed our lives.