An Alternate Ending

I’m sitting in the nook in our kitchen by the window. The sun rays are shining through the window, warming the left side of my face as I stare out into our yard. It’s springtime and I can see Shannon outside. She’s collecting fresh veggies and herbs from our bountiful garden. We’ve been struggling to use all of the produce— every week we’ve been giving our family woven baskets packed to the brim with tomatoes, peppers, green peas and lettuce.

• • • • • • • • •

She finishes washing and chopping and sautéing our meal, and she turns off the stovetop. She prances over to the table with a smirk, sliding an over-easy egg onto my plate atop of a piece of burned toast, approximately 1/3 of the surface turned black from being left in the toaster.

“I burned it on purpose. This is revenge for the Eagles winning last night.” she said playfully, the corner of her lips upturned in a sly smile. She was a Cowboys fan, and me being from Philly…I loved the Eagles. We always joked about our teams rivalry and how it’s ludicrous that we could be married when we “have such big differences in our values”.

I smile back at her and make a snarky comment about the Cowboys. I know that this isn’t real. I’m in a dream and she’s not here. When I wake up in the morning, she’ll be gone again, but maybe she’ll appear again tomorrow night. She doesn’t visit me every night… in fact she comes much less frequently than she used to. So, I make sure to fully appreciate my time with her.

We sit at the table and in-between bites, I tell her about my job, our friends, our kids…everything I can think of. I know she’s not real, but maybe she can hear me, wherever she is. Things start to go fuzzy as I realize I’m waking up. I say goodbye and open my eyes.

• • • • • • • • •

My dreams are confusing to me because I feel like I lead two separate lives and one is fake. If perception is reality, then is it possible for this to be real? Can I make this real and how? What makes reality “real” except for the experiences, really? It’s like the age old question, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Obviously, I know the difference between reality and my dreams. I know that what happens in the real world affects everyone around me, and my dreams only impact myself. But is it so harmful to let myself enjoy being with my wife in my dreams? It gives me peace of mind, but my therapist believes that it is preventing me from healing.

Still, I try.

and try

and try

to make my dreams my reality.

I want it to be real so badly, but I know that I can’t just live in my dreams. There are people in my life who rely on me to wake up and support them in the real world. It’s like I’m living two separate lives, one with my kids and one with my late wife.

I now listen to my therapists advice, because I know that he knows whats best for me and I trust him. Although I don’t seek her out anymore in my dreams, I hope that she visits me and I don’t realize I’m asleep.

ArticleMarissa Martin