When I research my symptoms, the internet tells me I am super stressed. When I trade my necklace for a tarot reading, the stranger tells me that I am incredibly stressed.
In my dream, I am meeting a group of people. It’s a little windy and I am pulling on my blazer as I walk. I’m not late, but I’m not as early as I’d like and I worriedly imagine most of them seated around the table already. I have a feeling someone I don’t know will be there, and I worry about how that will change the dynamic. As I am thinking this, I see a man at our table. He turns around. It’s Dave. My late husband is dead, but he is definitely standing there. He puts his hands out as if to calm me, as if to explain, but I am already screaming and running in the opposite direction towards awakeness.
The dream dictionary says I am stressed.
When I talk to my therapist, I explain that I cannot be stressed because nothing particularly stressful is happening. From the perspective of what I have been through, I am living a carefree life.
“I haven’t even been to a funeral since November,” I tell her.
I hear the flaws in my logic. I can see right through the holes. Tears pour down my face when the lights go out, and I don’t know why.
Sometimes I can hold onto the thought of a particularly sad thing. I can imagine a topic enough to explain the tears. Most of the time, I only know that I have many different types of sad inside me, like little bits of gravel ruining the smooth valleys of my landscape. Like little bits of gravel, sitting right below all my stuffing, giving me weight. Gravitas.
In my dream, we are living in a store. The shop closes up and the owner doesn’t know, but we stay behind. I walk around looking at the little trinkets. I pocket a little rock from the display. I know my mind is not right, but it doesn’t matter. My late husband stands up and pulls me to him. I don’t make eye contact, I just lean against him like I used to, like two people about to slow dance, but we never move. Without lifting my head, I touch his cheek, ask him, “You’re not really here, are you?” Dave shakes his head, no, and I smile. I know he is dead, I know my mind isn’t right, and it doesn’t matter.
Dave has been in every dream I’ve had recently– mute and dead. I think mute, but maybe just quiet. Most often, I am too afraid to speak to him. Sometimes, I am too tired to listen.
I know this sounds like sadness, but I have had such beautiful moments lately…
They fall fresh on me like new soil, new love, new rain.
It’s hard for me to believe the sadness can push through all that.
When I lived on a farm, there was a story about an orchard that grew over a buried treasure, and the bark of the apple trees had slivers of gold in them. The trees grew fruit but they tasted too different to sell. The apples never snapped when you bit into them.
It took generations of pruning trees and picking fruit and shifting soil before the apples tasted right. Generations of farming a purposeless golden orchard. Generations of protecting trees from those who wanted to cut them open just to see what a buried thing looks like after it escapes.
This is folklore, of course, but I wonder.
I wonder if my sadness is crawling through roots, chewing its way through bark, screaming from the fruit of my labors and loves. I wonder what I will have to prune. How long I will have to stay on guard.
I wonder if that’s why I lost my ability to make generations. So no child will inherit the orchard I built on tears.
… but you know… despite everything…
it is a staggeringly beautiful orchard.
You should see it in full bloom.
It perfumes everything in sweetness and stay. It holds life.
It holds me.
Even when I feel so heavy I could fall right through to the core of the Earth.
I wonder if the Earth is a type of apple. I wonder if I never left the farm.
I stand in my new world and wonder if I’ve never left anything, just buried it under my feet.
I wonder if my lifetime will be enough to see a change in things. If I’ll ever pull an apple from a tree I loved tall, kiss it between my teeth,
and hear it snap.