This Time I Said, “I Love You”

So many people live days, weeks, months  or even years angry at someone, losing the precious time that could be spent creating joyous, loving memories. We misunderstand or ignore premonitions or gut feelings and when it is too late, we struggle to forgive ourselves. Sometimes, we learn from those painful lessons and we do it right the next time. The next time has arrived.

While in college, Dad and I created a special time for us before going to work and school.  Each morning, Dad would get up at 4 A.M. and begin the percolator and then sat at the end of the table in his Captains chair, lunch packed, and a cigarette in his fingers. His arms would be crossed across his chest, legs outstretched and his ankles would be crossed. On the mornings I had to open the store before classes, I would come out of the darkness into the kitchen and Dad would sit up, smiling and face me at the table, and  ask me about my life. Instead of giving advice, Dad had just the right way of asking questions and Immediately I would find the answers I didn’t know that I needed before I sat down.

One morning, I woke up unusually exhausted. For some reason I had been sleeping on the sofa for the last few nights.  I pushed myself off the sofa and slowly walked into the warm kitchen and slid into my seat and slouched back. Dad asked me what was wrong. I answered with confusion and honesty, “Nothing.”

“You can tell me anything. I am concerned about you. Why don’t you trust me?” he pleaded. His voice shook as he tried to hold back emotion.

I was dazed and confused and asked him why he asked. Dad had heard me crying in my sleep over the past few nights. He was lost for explanations.  Again, I could not remember the dreams and I certainly did had no idea as to why I would be crying. I promised that indeed  if I had a problem I would come to him immediately.

Not long after these foggy mornings, I found myself changing my routine and arrived home for school much earlier. It was an unusual day and as I stepped over the threshold  I noticed a sink full of dishes and the trail of chaos leading from the kitchen to the living room. Dad had never allowed the dishes to sit in the sink. He had four dishwashers and one of them was going to work if any of the other three were not home or busy. My morning felt emotionally heavy. I had snapped at Dad the night before and I didn’t know why. I was not angry with him and had never been angry at Dad. I dug in and began with washing. Lost in the absence of thought, a place of no where, I was returned by a knocking at the kitchen door. Startled, I turned to peek through the yellow curtains. We lived so far off the path, no one ever came over unannounced, especially when my parents were not home.  My stomach sank and a darkness loomed as I opened the door to two men I recognized as friends of my father.

The two friends also worked with Dad. In my mind I insisted they were here for a good cause. Slowly and with their heads slightly bowed, one of the men  asked when my mom would be home. I wasn’t sure, but she usually arrived before noon; the men replied it was okay, they would wait for her. I offered them a seat and something to drink and I continued my tasks at a much faster rate. I had to keep my mind and hands busy. Mom sauntered in and the men rose to meet her. All I can remember at that moment is the screaming.and watching her fall to her knees and the men trying to catch her.

There are no other memories until the  viewings and funeral. During the viewings I realized that I had lived the scenes of this surreal experience before. The tears and cries that my father had asked about were the dreams that I could not remember, but now could while standing in the funeral home. I cannot remember anything else of the days following the accident that killed Dad.  The only memories I carry are ofof the night before. I wished that I would have said, “I love you” to Dad instead of snap at him.

It was  on a Wednesday morning, I awoke up and couldn’t see. A film  covered my eyes and my eye lashes were stuck closed with the goo. It reminded me of a young baby with a cold. I didn’t remember crying in my sleep. I had dreams that I remembered toward morning, but none of them were sad. But, I had cried. I ignored my instincts and curiosity, I did not want to go there. I did not want to remember the nights before Dad was killed.I did not want to remember this was a premonition.

Thursday night I had a vivid dream that was first person, fantasy and yet, real. I opened our back door and o nto the grass to find a large turtle lying on her back. I gingerly picked her up and placed her in the wood. I returned to the steps to find the turtle lying there, again, on her back. I held the edges of her shell and returned her carefully to the edge of the wood and spoke to her and once again, I returned to the steps to find here there on her back.  My mind’s eye was now standing behind the room full of the guests inside  who were all dressed in white. I could read their minds, they all could see me and they thought my hands were empty and that I had lost it.They saw me as if I were talking to an empty space between my hands. Immediately, I was behind the the men in the security office watching the surveillance video. The video picked up the turtle on the tape leaving me to wonder about alchemy and magic.

Immediately, my eyes flashed open and I felt  wide awake. I recorded the dream in my journal and slipped downstairs to meditate. I could not clear my heart or my mind. Thinking that I would come back later and try again, I dressed for the day. In my closet, I was pulled to a white tunic that I wear for sacred ceremonies and a wooden necklace with a salamander on the disc; a high school graduation gift that I had never worn. I was not concerned why I felt that I needed to dress in such a way. It felt right. I honored the guides and gently pulled the tunic over my head. I felt a need to gently adjust the necklace over the tunic as if performing a ritual.

It was urgent to use my time wisely and decided to work on one of my continuing education classes when the telephone rang. There were no men at my door and my mother was not here, but the message would be the same  I did not scream nor fall to the floor. I cried bittersweet tears of joy and sorrow. I rejoiced that my sister who in truth was more of a mother to me journeyed Home. The tears of sorrow were for the living.

Now, as I prepare for the funeral, I will prepare to see what I cannot remember of my tearful sleep.  This time it will be easier. This time, I had said,” I love you.”