Last night I dreamed Keith was heading off on a cross military training exercise with the Navy Seals.
I was waiting for him at the office building and time kept going by and going by and he didn't come back. Other people came back and new training missions deployed.
I began to get this really bad feeling and I couldn't shake it off. For a while, I wandered around, not really sure what I should do and then the panic really kicked in.
I had to know what was going on. I thought, "This can't be real. This can't be really happening."
So I went striding back into the office building- mission HQ, as it were. And there was my father, dressed in dark military clothing, standing next to his friend and bent over laughing.
For a moment, I felt fond of my gregarious father, but mostly I was incredibly relieved to see anybody that I knew.
"Dad, I think some thing's happened to Keith," I said to him.
My father sobered right up, but he assured me that Keith must be fine, the way people will do when they don't really know. But it's a safe thing to say, because usually it's true.
"Is there someway you can find out about his mission?" my dad asked his friend, who was looking concerned.
"I sure can," he said, and he leaned forward and tore a sheet of paper from a computer. It was like an automatic print out of all the mission stats.
His eyes went scanning down the page and then this expression passed over his face and my heart sank. I thought, "This is can't be real."
Then he handed me the paper and the second paragraph down read that they had lost two staff sergeants in a deep sea diving accident. It had happened hours ago. Part of me knew that it must be Keith but the other part of me refused to believe it.
I kept trying to read more, but my eyes wouldn't focus. Then I saw his name, written the way the military sometimes has it, with his last name first, and the reality of what had happened came crashing in on me. I couldn't breathe.
Suddenly I had this clear vision of two bodies hanging in the dark, cold waters, with tubes attached to their suits, under all that pressure.
Seeing this gave me two distinct impressions. One was this swift, fleeting stab of relief at simply knowing what had happened. It was as if knowing what had happened to him brought him closer to me, in some strange way The other impression was worse and stayed with me, and that was sheer horror that he had had to die that way.
I was leaning against the counter as if I were broken, taking in these long, wheezing gasps of air.
My father and his friend were nearby. His friend kept saying, "Breathe, just breathe," in this cut and dry kind of military voice.
But I couldn't get enough air. I could hear the air whistling down my throat and my lungs were burning, but I wasn't getting air.
All I could focus on, was how I would never see Keith again. He would never come home. He was gone.
The entire sensation was so disturbing that it pushed me out of the dream. For a moment, I hung in this strange space between sleeping and waking, still feeling like I wasn't getting enough air and feeling this bewildering, throbbing pain.
Then I realized it was a dream. None of that had even remotely happened and it was a regular Monday night, and more over, Keith was asleep in the bed with me.
So naturally he got woken up, but if there is one thing he does not mind, it's being woken up by affection. I could wake him up that way several times in one night, and he would simply make room for me to come closer, and then fall back asleep.
I slept the rest of the night all squished up close to him and when the four or five different alarm clocks had gone off in their usual progression, I told him about the dream.
"Well, there's one sure thing about all that," he said, business-like. "I would damn well never do a training mission on deep sea dive."