About a month ago, I woke up from a dream with both a sense of bittersweetness and peace.
My family and friends are well aware of the impact my grandfather had on my life. He served in WWII as a mechanic in California, he was a civics teacher, and an avid gardener (amongst other great qualities). He never showed me any anger nor did he ever put down my grand dreams. I suppose that is a benefit to being a grandfather over a parent. You get to enjoy the ride without needing to put in all the grunt work.
My grandfather got to see all these beautiful and tough journeys unfold for his children and his grandchildren. I mean, when you live into your 90s, you get to do that. My grandfather saw me get into college and pursue my dream as a writer. But in 2010, he passed.
Selfishly, I crumpled on the floor of my dorm sobbing to my best friend that it was too soon – that it wasn’t fair. In reality, he was 92, saw his first great-grandchildren, stayed with my failing grandmother to her end, and lived a full and vibrant life. Nonetheless, I still miss him from time to time. I am even tearing up writing about him 7 years later.
Why am I talking about this? Why is this important to my writing?
Well, simply because one of the things I always regretted was that he’d never see that I fulfilled my dream. That’d he’d never see my fire still going. That he’d never see how far I had come – how far I would go.
Then the dream happened.
In it, I was getting ready to leave a warehouse when I saw him. My grandfather was just sitting there talking with some old buddy. I told Kyle we had to wait, that I needed to go get him. Obviously, I rushed up and put my arms around him and began to sob. I told him I needed him, and how happy I was he was back. He gave a squeeze back and pulled away to look me in the eye.
“No, you don’t need me anymore. You’ve got this.”
It was so matter of fact and simple. Part of me wanted to argue, to tell him to stay. But his smile stopped me as his words sank in.
“Go catch up,” he pointed to my fiance. “I’m watching.”
I gave him a final hug and left.
And then I woke up.
Maybe dreams are just our minds working through loss and pain to dull the ache. Maybe it was the spirit of my grandfather coming down for a final lesson. Whatever you believe, something shifted in me.
What I know is that I’m okay to move forward. I’m okay to still be sad from time to time, but to not dwell on those who are gone. Rather, I need to embrace my own adventure and celebrate this life with those who are still here. There is still so much left to do and that much more left to write.