Afternoon Dream


I dreamt today about my brother.

In the dream, we were sitting at a kitchen table somewhere. Don was sitting to my left.  I was struggling with my hands, busy trying to put something together, and he was helping me, and struggling, too. I expressed my frustration, and he was very sweet, telling me that I was doing fine, and damned if he didn’t lean in and gently kiss my cheek.  I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, not a laugh of derision or embarrassment, just as an acknowledgement of how out of character the kiss was, and he understood, and he laughed, too.

I woke up right after that.  It was 4:14 in the afternoon, and I was alone in my bedroom. I thought of the dream and I thought about the kiss and although the gesture was out of character, the sentiment was not, and I remembered all the times when we were kids that he, the big brother, was supportive of me, the little brother, and how much that support meant to me. I grabbed my phone, thinking I should call him.

These days, for reasons neither one of us fully understands, we rarely speak. When it occurred to me today that I should call him, the telephone grew heavy with the weight of those reasons and the cavernous distance that has grown between us.

But I don’t care about any of that. I have no axe to grind, no blame to place. All I’d want to know is if he’s okay. You’d think that picking up a phone wouldn’t be so difficult, that it’d be easier than planting the seeds of regret that grow into black weeds that spread and devour the lush grasses of memory and love with every opportunity missed, every connection abandoned.  Maybe I’m too weak, maybe my fears are too strong. Maybe it’s because regrets have a way of repeating themselves.

Whatever the reason is, I put the phone down and went about the rest of my day. If I were to get up the nerve to call him, I’d tell him that I hope he is well, and I’d wish him a happy birthday. If I had the chance, I’d also thank him for all the dreams, new and old, in which he looked out for me like only a good big brother can.

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3 thoughts on “Afternoon Dream

  1. Call him. I had one older sister who had no use for me, at any time, but died slowly from blood cancer over ten years as I watched from a distance. I was with her the night before her death in 2010, still wishing we could have been friends, once upon a time. Now I’m the older brother, but strangely, I miss what never was. Do you understand, Dave?

  2. Your memoir let me see and feel you reaching out to cross the years to Don but couldn’t for reasons unknown. I too thought of family I can’t reach. I loved the line “black weeds that spread and devour the lush grasses of memory.”

  3. Damn! If this didn’t hit me in the gut…instant tears. I relate so much to this my friend! I wish you had the strength, courage, drive to make that call…I’m stuck, too. I haven’t spoken to my grandma in months, my brother even longer…the only two family members I have that are alive, aside from my beautiful wife and 3 children. And I can’t talk to them. I just don’t know what to say, to apologize but admit it would happen again. It’s a cycle that is brutal to my soul, and I’m sure theirs. I hope you find peace brother, and while I know it doesn’t matter, you’re not alone in your guilt. I’m here, too.

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