I had the strangest dream last night.
This makes three times in the whole of my life I have had a dream about Matthew, which is in and of itself so odd: you’d think I’d dream far more often about him.
(Cliff’s Notes for newer readers: Matthew was, effectively, the first great love of my teenage life, and the first person I ever got really close to with even more childhood and adolescent baggage than I had myself: his father offed himself when he wasn’t even two, his mother went insane thereafter and was institutionalized, and he then got tossed into the foster care system where he was molested in three homes out of four. By the same age I left home, he was living on-street, and shortly thereafter became a sort of Chicago punk scene icon. He both saved my life quite literally the day we met by distractedly walking right into each other at a bus stop, was really the first person I even told the whole of my history, helped me get out of my home, and then OD’d on ludes — do people even do ludes anymore?– and blew his head off with the gun his idiot roomie left sitting around loaded, four days after my sixteenth birthday, and eight days after he helped me get out of my house for good. I later found out that had happened on the very minute I’d woken up at four in the morning that day with a start, and that my number was the last on the phone sans a digit: he never completed that call. Suffice it to say, between having to clean up his place afterwards, deal with being the strangest sort of young widow ever, and have my teenage romantic ideals shattered utterly, all while I was trying to get over being suicidal myself, it was a considerable event in my life.)
Until last night, I’d had only two dreams about him: one the day after he died, in which he didn’t make an appearance at all, only his castaway shoes, and then one when I was in Miami with Sabrina in 2003, 16 years after the fact:
(From my journal) “In the dream, I was in some severe trouble, for not doing what a large mob of Shirley Jackson-esque people wanted or expected of me. I’d tried to hide out with my father, but he was unable to protect me. I ended up in a prison, in a terribly small, dirty cell, and in all the cells around me were a million different ghosts, passing in and out of the bars, whispering things I couldn’t understand, but being very assuming, with powerful presence, though they weren’t so much scary as just intense. I somehow escaped, and went though a series of alleys into a dark blue room, through a gold curtain. Matthew was there, instantly recognizable, though he didn’t look like the bleached, tattooed and mohawked 24-year-old he was, but instead how he might look today, sans window dressing — he had one blue and one brown eye as he had then, but plain brown hair, glasses, et cetera, yet was wearing the clothing he died in. And laying upside down (not sure what that means). When he saw me, he smiled big and started weeping, saying he never thought he’d see me again. We talked, catching up with my life, I said something to the degree of thinking he didn’t say goodbye because he didn’t still love me, he assured me he just couldn’t before now but that he’d loved me all the while, from then until now, without ever stopping. Cue a lot more joyful weeping.
After that, a beautiful old African woman in a lot of jewels passed by the curtain and smiled, and Matthew was then smiling softly, wearing purple and saffron robes; he held me in a tight embrace. And I woke up. With a truckload of astonished tears running down my face, just so tremendously grateful and shocked at the whole thing; feeling his protective and loving presence inside of myself so strongly.”
I’d waited a long time for that dream. I’d dealt with death before Matthew’s, but it was one of those where, since you didn’t get to say goodbye, or have any explanation, you go to bed each night begging — and thinking you can magically make it happen — for some sort of visitation in your sleep from the dead. When I was very young, I needed that dream for one set of reasons, but as I got older, I needed it for simple closure, and I got it in that.
In last night’s dream Matthew had come back from the dead. Not as a zombie or a ghost, nor was it anything about some mix-up. Basically, he simply was back, with no explanation as to how he got back whatsoever: he looked old, he looked tired and he seemed to be in a great deal of emotional agony. We didn’t have a prototypical tearful lover’s reunion: in fact, I met him with Mark, and while it was very joyful in its way, and there was the kissing and the embracing, there was something very sad and not-quite-there about it. He’d come back, but with little or nothing to come back to: there wasn’t a place for him as someone still present, basically. I’d moved on, and while elated to see him, and elated there was a way of having him back in my life, there wasn’t really room, and the magic had long since gone: it felt strangely empty.
He’d then gone to visit a bunch of other people who had been in his life before, most of whom I didn’t recognize. But all of their lives had fallen quite apart, in some horrendously tragic ways, but it was all sort of surreal (especially since the color in it was all desturated and greenish, the color old polaroids turn after a while), as if their lives were only like this not because of his death, but because of his coming back or what he was seeing in coming back.
I was trying to comfort him, but in the end, it was Mark, not me, who provided the comfort. He told him that those people were not really who they seemed to be now, but were still the people they were then, were all really doing just fine, or they would be if he’d just let his guilt go rather than revisiting it. And it seemed like Matt’s pain lifted, just like that.
And that was that: I woke up.
It was very strange, but in some way, incredibly beautiful. In some way I interpret it as a symbolic representation of the fact that burdens which I have borne alone aren’t things I have to go alone anymore, or aren’t my sole burdens to bear. It’s also really lovely to have this visual image of Mark comforting Matthew in my head, both of them sitting face to face, hands on one another’s knees, foreheads pressed together, with Mark easing his unbearable pain so compassionately.
(And oddly enough, Mark just rang. Saturday, the car was finally repaired, so he was able to leave Ohio on Sunday. He’s just now getting close to Montana so — gawd willing — he should be back home by Saturday at this rate.)