After Ken died, I didn’t dream about him for months–though I desperately wanted to. Then when I finally started having dreams starring him in those early months, I woke up feeling like I lost him all over again. They wrecked me. And it took some doing and time to right myself. Of course, it makes sense to me now. My subconscious was smart enough to withhold him from my dreams for several months, and only allowing it when it knew I was somehow “ready.”
I dreamt of him the other night–as I do now from time to time. One of our common histories was studying improv. And in the dream, my old Second City class (containing some of my closest friends) were performing with a recorded hologram of Ken. Each of us–one at a time–with me to be the last one. Only in dreams can you experience such a contradiction. Recorded improvisation? Each of my friends were performing little vignettes with him. And as I watched what looked like a flesh-and-blood Ken play in each scene–stealing some–I tried desperately to make eye contact with him. To connect with him. And I thought I did. Yet, even my dream self knew it was only a coincidence that he would look at the spot where I was sitting. It wasn’t him. It was a recording of him. An echo.
As I sat in the audience watching, looking for his eyes to meet mine, I felt all my friends in the audience eyes on me, frozen or maybe petrified by what I might do as I watched recorded Ken move around the stage, being dramatic or comedic, but always active. In motion. Like he was performing for me. Only me. My eyes welled up as I sat there. More because I was in the spotlight of my friend’s concern than for anything else, I think.
When I woke up (before I had my turn on stage with him), I remembered the dream. Vividly. And as I stretched and squirmed in bed, the dry, cracking goop around my eyes, reminded me that I had not only welled up in the dream theater. I contemplated the dream while I woke up in the darkness of my room–the sound of a stretching puppy not far away. And I was happy to have dreamt of him. It was like a surprise visit. I smiled to myself thinking about it all day.
It hadn’t wrecked me. Those days are blissfully in the past.