I Wanted to go First

4:45 am Sunday.  I just woke up from a dream about Jason.  It felt so real that I thought for sure he’d be sleeping next to me when I got up this morning.  And then we could go to Village Tavern sticking to our usual brunch date.

I fell asleep on his side of the bed and he came home in the middle of the night, returning from one of his Europe or Asian adventures.   He quietly slipped into the room and crawled into bed on my side, kicking off his shoes but keeping the rest of his clothing on.  He would do that sometimes when he was extremely fatigued from a 24-hour period of plane hopping and flying around the globe.  I was already awake so I turned around to face him and he said “Why are you sleeping on my side?” and I told him it was because I didn’t think he was coming home.  His response was “Don’t be silly, you can’t get rid of me that easy.”

He’d say those exact words to me often when I was worrying about one of his upcoming business trips.  I would drop him off at the airport and as we hugged and said our goodbyes, my lip would start trembling.  He knew the first sign of tears was a quivering lip fighting to smile so he’d quickly turn and walk into the airport, trying to spare me a long and emotional goodbye.   I would be on edge until the moment I was back at the airport picking him up.   I would hug him and notice the various smells he brought back with him of Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Oslo, Helsinki, Brighton, Copenhagen….and the list goes on.  His passport is ridiculous and I still have a large envelope full of Chinese currency from his last trip.

Back to the dream:  If felt very legitimate so I was expecting (hoping) to wake up to his morning breath and snoring.  Instead I woke up with a death grip around one of the extra pillows and facing my old side of the bed.  I never face that direction now that I’ve moved.  I don’t like seeing the vastness of an empty bed.  And once again reality knocked me to my knees, and then swung a left hook and a relentless upper cut just to ensure I stayed down.  All I could do was cry as I revisited the day I saw him in the hospital, seemingly asleep but dead of course.  That image is thick scar tissue covering so many of my happy memories.  His eyelids were just slightly open, enough to see the edges of the dark brown,  and his arms were placed by his sides.  The Project Linus blanket was encapsulating him tightly and pulled up to his chin, so the only thing visible was his face but it was overpowered by the various tubes coming from his mouth.   All I could do when I told him goodbye for the last time was kiss his forehead and his cheeks, and stroke his hair.  I held his hand too hoping he would squeeze it but the warmth had already left.   We’d go to bed sometimes holding hands and communicate by giving little squeezes.  When Jason would stop squeezing back that meant he was asleep.  He always fell asleep before me.  I really didn’t believe he would die before me too. I was hoping I would go first because I couldn’t imagine being without him.  Still can’t most of the time.


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