Making Meaning of the Madness

Chapter 3


He didn't do it, Dad.

Journal: Apr '95

Trout image

For several weeks I didn’t dream of Jeff, and that gave me anxiety. Because there were no dreams did that mean I didn’t love him? (Irrational thinking characterized my thoughts in those early weeks and months.) Then exactly two months after he died, I had my first. At 3:20 the morning of February 18th I woke from a dream, its content very fresh and clear. During his life, Jeff was a poor money manager, a characteristic which often caused me consternation, but I don’t think it ever did him. In the dream, as in life, he was there asking for money. This time, however, he wasn’t borrowing; he was asking for money owed him. An interesting turnabout. I was awake the rest of the night.

Four weeks later and just days after I returned to work, I left during lunch to rest by the river. I reclined in the seat and was drifting off to sleep when I awoke with the realization I was having another dream, a vision of Jeff and my father. In the dream I saw two large trout swimming calmly against the current along a stream bank. They were startlingly beautiful, their image very clear, and they were definitely swimming against the current, a direction Jeff would have preferred. Instantly they symbolized my son and my father coming to let me know they were O.K.. Dad was there to take care of Jeff, and together they were having the relationship they had not developed during their lives.

What gave so much emphasis to this dream was that right after Jeff died I experienced considerable anxiety about a simple thing; I had never taken him freshwater fishing. Fishing was something Dad and I enjoyed frequently. Diana, Michael and I had taken some great trips into Northern Saskatchewan, but aside from one salmon excursion, Jeff had not been fishing with me.

When we visited him at the funeral home, I wanted to leave something meaningful so I slipped my fresh water licence into his shirt pocket. I needed us to have this bond, if only in a spiritual sense. For much of my life I have not considered myself a spiritual person. However, as more time elapses I accept what I saw that afternoon as more than mere chance.

Last night I had another dream about Jeff. It was set in the present. As I walked into a room, there he sat looking a little younger than twenty-five but very similar to that time. There was a shy, apologetic look on his face. He said, "I didn't do it." In the room were Michael and I think Jeff K. Michael repeated Jeff's words: "He didn't do it, Dad." I remember sinking to my knees crying and then falling right to the floor. No explanation was given as to what had actually happened, but there was a sense that he'd needed to go away for a while. My next image was that he was a little boy running naked through a hallway in one of our previous houses. Joy and an immense sense of relief overwhelmed me when I saw and heard Jeff. Then I woke up. An intense sorrow filled the rest of a very restless night.

Journal: Apr '95

Sometimes we ask ourselves where dreams come from. I don’t know their origin, but I do know in times of grief they come as a tremendous source of strength. When I discuss dreams with other sufferers, they tell me the same thing.

Last night's dream involved an incurable disease which Jeff had contracted. He was lying on his stomach in a hospital room and he had an incision down the length of his spine. He looked about six or eight years old. A doctor was examining him to figure out what the disease was. The doctor pried opened the incision and examined Jeff's flesh. I recall it was startlingly pink. Jeff stayed asleep through this until the doctor got to his lower spine. Then Jeff's eyes opened. He asked what the matter was. I told him we didn't know, but we were going to make it all better. I had a very clear image of the trust in his eyes, the kind a child has for a parent during a time of crisis. That was all. I woke up.

Journal: Sept '95

For some weeks I tore myself up over the symbolism of this one. During his most terrible crisis, I wasn’t there.

To this point there have been very few other dreams, and none has matched the intensity of these.

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