I found myself standing barefoot on the terrazzo floor, cold and shivering from the frozen March slush that I’d just stomped through out in the parking lot. A young woman came over to me and asked if I needed help and as I thought about my reply, the characteristic “no, not really – I’m just thinking”, she reached up and caringly put her hand on my back. I’m not sure if it was a reassuring gesture from a compassionate soul or a skilled maneuver from a healthcare professional, using the allure of a woman’s touch to better assesses my medical condition. As she touched my spine, a raw nerve came to life and I squirmed to get away.
The pain, a grotesque combination of fright, dull tingle and paranoia must have been the exact tell that she was looking for because the next thing I knew I was on the ground. Her touch caused me to twist and fall away, helpless and exposed. She lay beside me and asked me more questions and having been finally discovered, I began to answer honestly. “Have you been drinking much water lately, hun”? She asked with a mixed tone of probe and genuine concern and I, with much release began to answer to the best of my ability. “Not really”, I answered. She had called for additional help and I could hear feet shuffling around me, dry feet, not wet feet like mine; socks and slacks that were beginning to pool water around me like a moat around a aged and besieged castle.
It seemed odd, I could see my house from through the large lobby windows and my intention was to simply take a short-cut though the place and get home. My wife would be wondering why I’d gone outside in such weather and I could already see my daughter’s bus waiting in the driveway turn-around. Smoke from the exhaust lazily wafting its warm mixture of steam and carbon monoxide into the chilly March morning air. Now, calm on the floor, I relaxed and found relief in having been discovered. I no longer had to bear the weight of confusion on my own and my condition was soon to be cared for.
I awoke after this dream and began to cry. The mixed emotions of starting some simple task but then having it become increasingly confusing, the sorrow of a man in whom a woman takes interest in, not of desire but of medical concern. The desperate month of March in Michigan which only serves to magnify the pressing feeling of being late for work, late for life, late for everything; too much to bear I fear – too much to bear.
This week has been one like this dream; my mentally impaired daughter – sick and unable to communicate her malady, resulting in a devastating level of self-abuse. Her arms, face and torso a blacked mass of bruises and cuts. Her eyes and face, a swollen and pathetic bag, not the beautiful Korean face we’d come to love. My wife; so tired. Her work in a home for mentally and physically impaired adults weighs on her, care for my daughter weighs on her, the cruel advancing disease of Alzheimer’s that her mother bears – weighs on her. I weigh on her. During all this, this week – I was mostly gone, taking vacation from work so I could work a side job that was a mix of passion, delight and exhaustion. Every step of it was visualized in my mind and clearly executed, my work phone, blissfully blocked. Even trips to the hardware store rewarded my ego with customers asking me for help: “you look like a fella who deals with these sorts of things on a regular basis, if I plumb this like this”….
Unfortunately though, there’s a price for everything. The price for the competence and confidence of this week seems to have been a part of my soul. This week indeed took a massive toll on us, physically, mentally and spiritually. Dreams exist for a reason; they wonderfully outline how futile it is to try to make sense of life. Like the king in the book of Daniel, I had a troubling dream. Unlike the king, I need not look for interpretation. When Joel prophesied that “your old men will dream dreams”, he failed to mention that those dreams would be both blessing and curse, both delightful and horrifying, offering clarity and confusion simultaneously.