“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”
― John Guare
I’m sitting in a diner, the light brown wood of the tabletop familiar under the standard placemat of bright squares advertising local businesses. No overwhelming feeling of hunger has gripped me, no feeling of anticipation of my order’s arrival has slipped into the corners of my mind. I sit, contentedly, taking in the slight hustle and bustle around me.
I glance to my right, and tilt my head, confused. A familiar face I was not expecting to see meets my gaze steadily, with a smile. I smile back uncertainly.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hey,” I respond hesitantly. “Is it, ah, is it okay for you to be here? Can you be here right now?”
“Yeah don’t worry, I can be here. How are you?”
I relax a little. “I’m great,” I say happily. “How are you?”
“Really good, I’m doing great,” he says, a tone of sincerity backing his words.
This response fills me with joy. We fall into the happy, comfortable conversation of two people with no walls between them. I couldn’t say if it lasted for minutes or for hours. If you ask me what we talked about, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
Something gently warns me our conversation is coming to an end. I look into his eyes, mine suddenly welling with tears. I’m not sure why I’ve just been so overtaken with emotion.
To my surprise, I say, “I’m so scared I won’t remember this. I’m so scared I won’t remember that I talked to you.”
“Don’t worry,” he assures me. “I’ll make sure. I’ll make sure you remember.”
His words comfort me. Everything seems a little fuzzy.
Blackness. I realize my eyes are closed, slowly become aware that I’m laying in my bed, the darkness of night still covering my side of the Earth. I roll over, confused. I realize I’m crying.
It’s been almost five years since I’ve spoken to Chris, five years since any of us have. And yet, I feel it hasn’t even been five minutes. Maybe it hasn’t.
I think about the dream and am overwhelmed with a sense of calm, of comfort. I’ve spent the last five years like my entire family has- keeping my cousin alive in my heart, in my memories. Carrying around the medal of St. Christopher as a token of love, of luck, of protection, of whatever I needed it to be.
Who can say for sure what dreams are? Imaginations run wild? Doors to another reality? Neither of those? Both of them?
I am not sure what I believe about most dreams, but I believe that Chris is doing great. I don’t know why he chose me to share that with, and I don’t know what I think happens to our souls after we leave this world. I don’t think we spend eternity in diners where we never eat, but I’ve come to believe we can meet our friends and family there and tell them how we’re doing.
And although I’m unsure where or when or how or who I’ll be after I die, I very much believe Chris will be there to greet me.
That alone makes me unafraid. That alone makes me hopeful. That alone is enough.