So there we all are: John, Wendy, Shannon, Bonnie MacDougal, Jim and me, stuffed in a car. Our destination turns out to be a Disney kind of place. There are big - BIG- screens and stages in the middle of an arena - surrounded by seating sections.
Somewhere along the line we pick up a strange man (no name, no face). Everyone is in the back seat of the car, the stranger in the front. My purse has spilled out in the driver’s seat, covering it with an assortment of pencils, pens, paper clips and a wrapped tampon. I wave off any comments made - I’m known for a variety of items in my purse that could rival the check out counter at Woolworth’s.
We all have tickets to get in, except the stranger. He buys his own with cash. I am told we must pay an additional $48.00 fee even though we’ve pre-purchased tickets. A credit card won’t be accepted and I have no cash. After some discussion and appealing looks, the cashier says she’ll waive the fee. I’m filled with relief. I smile at her and ask her name. She shows me her name badge - it starts with an M and has a V in the middle. I pronounce it correctly. She tells me it means “content.”
The gang gets inside and begins looking for a seat - six seats together. It is a madhouse. I find a section that will work for us. Jim takes a chair on the edge, a few of the kids sit next to him. I take the seat on the opposite side of the box. He won’t move closer to me, I won’t move towards him. The kids have scattered. Bonnie Ann left. People start coming in and filling up the space and taking chairs to other sections. We are getting split up. I’m getting mad and frustrated. I go looking in other sections. I meet another woman who is also looking for 6 seats together - I head in a different direction.
I notice a whole section, going up to the higher tiers, almost empty. The ticket taker is charging a quarter per seat. She says we won’t see the same show. It will still have Alice in Wonderland but not the NorthWest version. I go back to find my gang. Everyone is gone.
I go on the hunt, around and around the stage. I see Wendy. She’s mad at me. We can’t find John. I figure he’s getting into trouble but am afraid he’s lost. Can’t find Shannon. Bonnie never came back. Jim has vanished.
Finally, I find John. I grab his arms and squeeze them, sitting him down in one spot and tell him not to move. I turn my head and he crawls away. I repeat the arm squeezing with a little more force. I tell him if he moves he’ll turn into a spider.
Now I’ve got to go get my black cat who has gotten loose somehow. Or is it a black dog? Whatever the show was it is now over without any of seeing it. Crowds of people are leaving. Jim is nowhere in sight. I’m getting panicky. How are we all going to know where the car is? How have I lost everybody?
I am in one section that turns into an airplane, taking off the ground and skimming over the parking lot so I try to locate the car and kids. I say I must get off, I am told we’re heading for Delaware. I keep crying and telling the people around me that Jim is going to be so mad he’ll leave me.
With that I am awakened by the blessed sound of the alarm clock.
I’ve heard that some fathers-to-be have sympathetic food cravings or labor pains. Is it possible for caregivers to have sympathetic stages of the dying process? Such as:
- Most of Dad’s pain the last year has been in his abdomen, back and hip. Recently it changed to his right arm. Would you think me crazy if I tell you every morning when I wake up my right arm hurts like my leg did when I had bursitis?
- Dad has lost most of his appetite. I’ve found it. A dinner not followed by ice cream, brownies or a Klondike bar is just not a dinner.
- Dad has dreams and hallucinations. I dream of losing the people most dear to me and leaving on a plane without saying goodbye.
- Dad sometimes laments not being able to do the things he once did without even thinking about it - balancing a checkbook, driving a car, bathing himself. It’s been five years since “my friend” last came to visit. Do you think that by dreaming of a tampon, I’m mourning the loss of having periods?
Yesterday I read yet another book by a hospice nurse. She listed dream themes that are common among the dying:
"Dreams of closure - May include seeing old friends or family, both living and deceased.
Dreams of a pending trip - may include a feeling of restlessness, of waiting an not yet being able to depart
Dreams of a body of water - the dreamer is on one side of the water and wishes to cross but cannot" *
It all sounds familiar to me.
Sweetie recently brought home a DVD on Dream Interpretations by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Naturally I fell asleep before it was over. I remember, though, Estes said to be aware of the feelings you had in the dream.
In last night’s dream I was angry and scared and anxious about being left behind.
I guess under the circumstances those feelings are not particularly alarming.
In the foreword of the book Living at the End of Life, Dr. Charles Sasser, MD, FAAHPM, FCAP, writes “People who are dying want more than anything to have caregivers who are both loving and competent. Their caregivers want more than anything, to provide loving competent care.” ** Maybe, for me that means walking, hand in hand, as much of the way as I can with my father. I like to think I’ll be with him as he walks up to that beautiful, serene place of crossing over. And when he's ready, I’ll let go of his hand and he’ll take a step and cross over without looking back.
Wishing for you peaceful dreams,
* Living at the End of Life, Karen Whitley Bell, RN, Sterling Publishing, New York, NY, pg. 20
** pg. x