Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this; dream about something they’d done during the previous day or will be doing the next day. When I used to do pricing for hours at my sister’s consignment store, I would sometimes dream that night that I was pricing more. When my husband and I attended book sales, my intensive searching went on through the night in dreamland. And those few and far between doubling coupon shopping trips I took with my husband? They, too, were repeated in my dreams. Occasionally, I would have the most amazing shopping trips in my dreams before the book sale, bag sale, or double coupon trip, making the actual shopping trip the next day a bit of a disappointment in comparison.
I began the arduous task of revising, editing, and completing my coupon book last night, writing for a good two hours. Considering I haven’t touched this book since David’s death nearly seven months ago, it was somewhat disconcerting to read references to our shopping trips; “We each grab a cart…” “When David and I shop together…” Repeatedly I had to change David does or my husband will, to David used to and my husband would. I went through the entire manuscript, making those kinds of changes, becoming increasingly agitated. David was a huge part of my life, and for the last few years, my usual shopping partner. It is no wonder I still can’t get through a grocery store without my eyes tearing up and occasionally cry in the parking lot.
I may as well not even have gone to bed at all last night because my writing continued on well into the night, through my dreams. Oh what prosaic prose it was as I wrote sentence after amazing sentence, paragraphs I would read aloud to David as he quietly sat there smiling. For David did appear in my dream, though he never spoke a word. Judging from his beaming smile my words were very pleasing; quite genius, in fact. Too bad I woke up and couldn’t remember even one choice sentence.
The thing is; David often did sit quietly as I wrote, either at the kitchen table, in the chair next to the couch, or when we traveled together. I carried my “portable writing kit” when we took a date day, shopping out of town. My writing kit consists of a black bag filled with market submission guidelines and whatever I’m working on at the time. Sometimes we’d sit companionably silent for an hour or more as I frantically scribbled on a legal pad, intent on completing a column, article or essay. David was remarkably patient and understanding of the power and the glory of the muse in action. How blessed I was to have a spouse who, despite never having experienced it himself, understood the peculiarity of the writer’s mind. Silence was indeed golden, when shared with David.
Of course, just as in reality my writing is often interrupted by children, my grandiose written diatribe was interrupted when, in my dream, my oldest son appeared to remind me I was late for my philosophy class. 2:10, I remember clearly, glancing at a clock on the wall and somehow knowing I was supposed to be at class at 2:00. I jumped on my bike, pumping my legs hard as I weaved my bike in and out of traffic, towards a distant campus, before stopping, turning around, and heading back home. “I decided to drop my philosophy class,” I told my son when he approached me, “Because I don’t need it or want it, and I’ve decided I’m not going to do anything I’m not really passionate about.”
For the record, I’m not enrolled in any college classes, and if I were to ever take any, philosophy is not one I would chose, but after David’s death I did make a conscious choice not to take on any projects or jobs that I wasn’t truly excited about. I have at least a temporary luxury of being able to do that. It was shortly after my husband’s death I stood in front of the sink doing dishes, tears pouring down my cheeks. What am I supposed to do now? What will I do without David? I wondered, fresh sobs escaping. What would David want for me?
I had an epiphany then. I contemplated how supportive my spouse had become of my dreams and passions. He reveled in driving me to meetings, workshops, writing groups, and even a photo shoot with the newspaper I would be writing a coupon column for. He bragged me up to oblivious cashiers who mentioned my coupon savings, proudly informing them I was writing a book as he slung his arm around my shoulders. After his cancer, he didn’t care so much about things like proper social etiquette; if he felt like hugging someone, he just did it. He blurted out heartfelt sentiments without embarrassment. Who was I to ask him to tame down the gushing compliments he bestowed upon me? I learned to just smile indulgently and bask in the warmth of his praises. We should all be so lucky to have such a supporter of our endeavors.
David hated to see me accept work assignments I was less than excited about, simply to make money. I made the decision that day at the sink, that for one year, I wouldn’t take on any projects I didn’t enjoy. And for the most part, I haven’t. Now I’m working on completing the book project that David had been responsible for me beginning in the first place. David was the one who spotted the March 2010 New York Times article that touted couponing as the newest “extreme sport.” On the heels of this project, I have two more new book projects waiting in the wings, along with ideas for future speaking engagements. As painful as it is to go on without David, I can’t help but feel a bit of excitement as I follow my passion.
And as I do, I imagine David, sitting quietly, and smiling.
Jeremiah 29:1 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)