Gratitude at 3 a.m.

She had been knocked off her bike, stuck by a car, and rushed to emergency. I got to St. Mike’s Hospital just behind the ambulance.

“Is she alive?” I screamed. And then I woke up.

Telling dreams don’t work unless you’re Martin Luther King or a therapy client. But they kind of work (I rationalize) if you’re keeping a blog roughly on the subjects of life and death and the dream fits the criteria.

I had this dream hours ago, while sleeping in Heather’s and my brand-new used bed–flopping around without shifting the mattress, pillows, or memory foam; without tugging loose the sheet’s too-tight corners; without bumping up against the black cat, snoozing in his own bed by our feet.

I had this dream last night, after consuming an extravagant Ethiopian meal with my son and his girlfriend, a gift they made to me for my 52nd birthday celebrated on last month’s Bastille Day. After a glass of mineral water and a Dyovol Plus I slipped into bed beside Heather and tucked into a novel. And then the nightmare.

It could have come from the heavy meal. Maybe from the scary ride home on my bicycle: never an easy move from lane-to-lane as cars tear across the Bloor Street viaduct and onto the Don Valley Expressway, oblivious to cyclists. Scarier still after dark, on a new bike, and having already had two falls since April, once in front of a Queen Street streetcar.

It could have been the ride down the hill along Jones Avenue at 40 km per hour, aware of every crack in the gravel, bits of broken glass, or pop cans debris.

I love cycling but rarely do it without thoughts of my mortality. But I made it back home to dream.

Instead of hearing whether Heather was alive or (say it!)–alive or dead, I woke at 3 a.m. with a jolt and a sweaty brow. And I reached for her. Held her next to my heart, counting beats, loving her, loving her so much. I lay awake beside her for the next hour spinning in my head with thoughts of gratitude.

Enough said. I won’t flatten it with over-telling. But I include it here because this dream led me to the precipice of the deepest grief imaginable: caused by my life bereft of Heather–turning in the bed toward emptiness and remembering when my arms were full.

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About Nor

I'm a creative non-fiction writer, with a special interest in memoirs and obituaries--life stories, local histories with flesh & blood anecdotal details. I'm also beginning to create podcasts of people's stories and expanding their audiences. I'm a diarist, an editor, and a political activist. I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spend days tapping keys or staining my fingers in ink.
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