I had a dream that my dad abandoned us. He was here one day and the next day he was gone. No goodbyes, no I love you’s. He just left forever. I woke up realizing it wasn’t just a dream. It was reality.
Saturday mornings were devoted to lawn work. My dad would wake up early to mow the front and backyard lawn, work on the sprinklers, and work in his garden. In my pre teen years, I so wanted to sleep in on the weekends. But I would often be woken up by the sound of the lawnmower at 7am. No more sleeping in for me. I had work to do. My job was to sweep away the grass clippings and tidy up the patio. I grumbled about this most days but I wanted to please my dad so I did it anyways. At one point, I had to completely take over the lawn duties for a few months. My dad broke his arm from falling off a ladder at work. He had to have surgery to implant metal plates in his arm to secure the broken bone. He had a few months of his arm in a sling along with physical therapy. He taught me how to use the law mower to cut the grass every week. My 12 year old body had a tough time pushing the lawn mower, but my dad was really patient with me even though I was so hard on myself and wanted to give up. I was relieved of my duties (thank goodness) once his arm healed enough where he could use the lawnmower. I was back to sweeping off of the patio, quite humbled that I didn’t have to push the huge lawnmower again.
In my dream (nightmare, actually), I was outside with my dad and he was mowing the lawn. I could smell the aroma of fresh lawn clippings, and felt the warmth of the sun on a Saturday morning. I went back inside for some water. When I went to the backyard, he was gone. I was left with this horrible feeling of abandonment. He left us (my mom, sister, and I). Just completely deserted us. There was no explanation, no goodbyes, and no I love you’s. Nothing. He was there one minute, working on the yard, and the next minute he purposely left us. I was angry, sad, and lonely in my dream. I felt like a huge chunk of my soul was gone. Empty.
Then I woke up. The dream, in fact, was reality. My dad abandoned us almost 4 years ago. No goodbye letter, nothing to tell us why he left this life, or that he was sorry. Just gone. In my dream, I was reliving the abandonment and emptiness I felt when my dad died.
Grief is a funny thing. It likes to keep me on my toes, doesn’t want me to forget the anger, pain, and sorrow of those first few vulnerable months after my dad died. However, I know this is not what my dad wants me to feel. These feelings and awful dream is not coming from a divine, Heavenly place. It’s coming from a dark place, perhaps tucked away in a dark, cold place in my brain labeled ‘dark grief-don’t open’.
I have some options. I can be angry at my situation. I can question why I am in pain and why my dad left. So many deep, dark emotions I can feel. But that will only lead me to a darker place. Another option, which I prefer to take, is that I can sit with these emotions for a little bit. Understand where they are coming from and why. Then I can move on. Tuck the dark emotions back into that cold, dark file in my brain. Hoping to not see them again anytime soon. Now I know those emotions are still there and it will show it’s ugly face when I least expect it, but I am prepared. I have Heavenly Father’s love to get me through it. I have grief experiences and coping skills to help me through it. I have family and friends to help me through it. Times will not always be dark. We have to choose the light.