I spoke with two dead relatives during the night. My brother has been gone well over 5 years and in April it’ll be 20 years since Dad left the family. I spend time thinking about them. A great deal of time. Once in a while they appear in my dreams. Seldom together.

Early after falling asleep I was dreaming about some old friends I haven’t spent much time with the last 20 to 30 years. In the story unfolding we were at a tavern and it was filled with people from life I know but many don’t know each other. Dreams don’t discriminate. Everyone gets lumped together. We were all younger. In our twenties and we left the tavern and started walking. We were walking down James Street in East Syracuse, New York. I lived in a condo outside the village during the late 90s. In fact near there is where I thought I heard my father shout my name while I was out for a walk two weeks after his death.

In the dream we began throwing snowballs. One friend got knocked down and was paralyzed. We carried him home to a very disappointed wife. She pulled me aside and explained out of earshot she would be leaving the guy. She couldn’t fathom living with a cripple. Then she stumbled and fell and was herself paralyzed. I left the house and wandered past what looked like new construction. Parking ramps and office buildings and new apartment complexes.

St. Genevieve Church, Livonia, Michigan, Courtesy, Bill Colley

I wandered through a door. My brother was standing in a large and unfinished room and he had an attitude. As other friends wandered in he began quarreling. He stepped into a smaller room and in my dream I heard my father’s voice. He was chewing Matt out, which was common when they were among the living. This time Matt listened. Then I walked outside. Dawn was approaching and I saw a large mansion. It looked neglected. The trees needed trimming. Then smoke began pouring from the windows. Alarmed I turned around and told my dad, brother and assembled friends. They didn’t seem alarmed. I walked around some gnarled trees and grabbed a bucket and squelched some flames burning on the grass. Then Dad was behind me and he told me to let the fire burn. We walked to a large arched gate attached to the house.

On the other side of the gate was lush green with streams, ponds, healthy trees and sunshine. I walked into this pastoral setting and around the other side of the house. My dad had a seat on the back porch. I looked around and saw stacks of terraced apartments with large recessed and sheltered balconies. “The women decorate them,” my dad explained as I admired the decks. He stood up and ignoring the steps he moved to jump off the porch. I warned him and he leaped as if he was still a young man.

We walked a few feet and in the middle of a garden there was a small graveyard. The stones were very old and it was clear the graves weren’t often tended. On the perimeter sat two empty wooden chairs. “Those are for the new people,” Dad told me.

Graveyard, Lewes, DE, Courtesy, Bill Colley


And then I heard an alarm clock calling me for another day.