I saw you last night.

I’m not sure when. Likely somewhere around 5:00 a.m. Right before I jolted awake—flipping around, fighting to fall back to sleep. To doze back off quickly enough to step right back into the room with you.

I’ve met you in my dreams at least twice a week since you left us in January. Every single week.

The dreams often leave me feeling worse. I wake up with my teeth clenched, my fingernails piercing into my palms. Fighting to find you.

I have a recurring one where I’m underwater in your pool. You’re standing just above ground, talking to me. But I can’t swim up. No matter how I kick and stroke and flail, I can’t swim up to the top to hear what you’re saying. I have another where we are at dinner. It’s loud and there are people around. So similar to the business dinners you’d let me tag along to when you had conventions in Orlando. I stare in awe of you. But anytime I try to reach out and hold your hand, the table stretches before my eyes. And I can’t reach you yet again.

But speckled in these nightmarish dreams, I have ones like I did last night.

About a month after you passed, I dreamed we were in the Sarasota Airport at baggage claim. I saw your head above everyone else’s. But you were busy. Searching for somewhere you had to be. I shouted and shouted. And finally, you turned and walked to me. A giant Papa hug, followed by a giant Papa chuckle. I felt your belly rumble from your laughter so tangibly, I knew: it was really you.

And last night. We sat in a hospital room. But everything was ok. Everything was light. We laughed. You grumbled at the TV. We laughed more. And as I felt myself waking, I lunged forward, grabbing your hero hands. I looked at you. Really looked at you. And you looked back at me. Really looking at me.

It’s in these dreams that I’m certain: you’re still right there. Stopping in now & then. Urging me to keep going. To not get bogged down in missing you so much that I miss everything still in front of me. In your uniquely Papa way, you still show up. Telling me you’re ok. That you always will be. And proving to me that I am, and I always will be, too.

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