The other night I had a dream that Jessica was lost, and though I kept calling for her, I knew she was never coming back. I hate this dream. Sometimes it goes away for a while, but it is never gone.
In a few weeks Jessica undergoes more testing. In February when we scheduled the testing, it seemed like July was such a long way off and I had the luxury of not thinking about it. And now it is not a long way off, and I think about it, and then I shove the fear and the anxiety aside, but then that just makes the dream pop up, and it wouldn’t be so bad if it were just my brain saying You need to face this and do something about it, but there isn’t anything to face, and there isn’t anything to do about it and I wish my brain would just shut the fuck up.
I worry about Jessica dying, I worry about it all the time, and there’s nothing I can do to make her not die or to make me stop worrying about it.
I don’t mean this in a pathological sense of obsessiveness but as a fact of my life: the way you know you might fall when you’re walking on ice. You get the message from your brain: Ice! And you say, Thank you, brain, and you step with care. And you don’t fall on your ass, and yay! Your brain is rewarded for its faithfulness. That is what worrying is for.
So you could say my life is one long sheet of ice. Yet there is nothing I can do about it, there is no all I have to do is walk carefully or watch out for that patch there or we just get to the other side and it will be all right. There is only a fact: some day, on a day like today, you might lose Jessica. And you will never get her back.
There is nothing I can do about that fact. There never has been. There is nothing anyone can do. It is not that we need to raise three million dollars, or move to another country, or anything hard but plausible. There is nothing.
All there is to do is hold Jessica’s hand through it and try not to be too bitter. And yet there is my brain, oh-so-helpfully reminding me of the risk and sending me dreams to haunt my nights.
So I do what I always do when the pain starts to etch itself into my body, and I say not now. It may be that she is lost to me tomorrow, but not now.
Now there is the sun on my face, and a whisper of a breeze. There is a ciabatta from Wheatfield’s, and a crisp apple from The Merc, Riesling in the refrigerator. A book by Terry Pratchett, one I haven’t read yet. An old favorite from Jenny Crusie for when the dream wakes me up too early. A friend who will talk about all the mundane minutiae of life so that I can hold on tight to it with both hands. There is Douglas the Dragon standing watch over my shoulder and George Strait on the radio.
And there is Jessica, holding a book out to me and saying, “Let’s read more Harry Potter. We have to find out what happens next.”
I know what happens next, in Harry Potter and in life, but I take the book, and I turn the page, and I begin.
The dream will come again, every night now for a while, but we can hold it off for a few hours. Not now, I tell my brain when it starts to whisper. Not now.