Note: I wrote this a couple months ago. I found this in some unfinished drafts. Two days ago—November 4th—would’ve been my brother Ryan’s 31st birthday. He continues to periodically appear in my dreams. I hope he continues to do so. I share this in his memory.
I have dreams. Not the world-changing eloquently spoken and proclaimed to change a nation kind. Actual dreams.
I have dreams. About a dead person. Specifically, my brother. I suppose over the past
7 years since his death I’ve dreamed of him over different periods of time. The dreams are not new. Months after his death I had a few genuine nightmares. They were very vivid dream versions of some events that did happen (and I witnessed) during his hospitalization after his transplant and before he died. Those weren’t good times.
Recently, I had a few more vivid and significant dreams. Both were again related to the months he spent in the hospital post-transplant. One was pretty awful and involved a lot of anxiety, worry, and ultimately, heartbreak, which is not so far from what really happened. The other dream explored a different outcome for my brother after his transplant. He was up and walking, doing physical therapy, moving around without oxygen and better than he had in years. He was walking down the hall and talking with people. This was a happy alternate ending to what is now history.
For a long time, I dreamed of my brother mostly in scenarios that were rooted in things that previously happened. As time goes on, more often he appears in whatever crazy, mash-up world my mind has concocted during the night. We’ve taken an intensive theology course, he’s been to Chicago, we’ve mountain biked again.
These are things he never got to do post-transplant and in real life. He didn’t even make it home.
I’ve had to make sense of these dreams. For some time, I didn’t’ know what to think of them. They partially creeped me out and they also continually dredged up a fresh and sometimes raw grief around my brother’s death. I also didn’t want to sound some sort of crazy when going on about these dreams.
At this point though, I don’t mind these dreams (minus the nightmare-like ones) and sometimes am even grateful for them. This side of eternity I have no more time left with my brother. But it seems he’s still alive in the world of my dreams and imagination. I don’t have any strong opinions on dreams, their origins, and if/what can be understood or concluded from them.
I do know that sometimes, at night when I’m asleep, I get a little more time with my brother. And for that, I am grateful.