Dreams can be the best. Dreams can be the worst. Sometimes, like last night, dreams can inspire a legitimate and hopefully productive thought process. Hopefully it is even possible to become a better, wiser person as the result of a dream. Hopefully that happened for me last night. Hopefully it can help you too.
Last night I dreamed that I was somewhere on vacation and I was sitting down for lunch in a public restaurant when someone escorted my father in-law in and sat him across from me at the table. This was of course a great surprise to me because he has been dead for a few years now. Sheldon looked incredibly frail and sickly much like he did shortly before he passed away. In the dream he told me he didn’t have long to stay because he wasn’t feeling well. And then the dream just simply faded away….
I woke up numerous times in the night after that dream and ended up getting up far earlier than I needed to because of how it made me think. The dream had provided me with something we all wish we could have lots of in life- a do over! I was presented with another chance to say the things- to ask the things- of my father in-law that I hadn’t and that I should have.
In the interest of fair disclosure Sheldon wasn’t always the easiest man to get along with. He was a man of strong opinions and fearless in his efforts to share them. Yet he was no doubt a good man. Married to one woman his whole life, a WWII Navy vet and a hard worker his life was one to emulate in many ways. Most importantly we had one very big thing in common for we both greatly loved the same woman- my greatest earthly blessing- Debbie.
Sheldon lived in Florida and his death process was a long distance one for me. I vividly remember the last time I spoke to him. I wasn’t aware that it was to be the last conversation but both he and I knew that it could be. I had something that I wanted to say to him during that call. I wanted to tell him that he should know that in my eyes he was a great man for raising this woman that I love so much. In all of his accomplishments through my lens of life that was his greatest. I chose to make small talk instead..
I said nothing that I should have because I was a proud and cowardly man. I was fearful that I would cry and look weak. My plan that day was to say it the next time, on the next call. The Lord’s plan was different. Sheldon died leaving me no next calls and no second chances.
I have come to greatly regret that lost opportunity. After his death I came to think of so many other things that I should have said and which I should have asked but did not. I always knew that he was a Navy veteran of WWII but never bothered asking for details. Only after his death when going through some of his papers and talking with my mother in-law did I learn more. His job was as a landing craft driver and he served in the Pacific theater. He likely participated in some of the most historic island landings in our history- and I never knew because I never asked. How many other things did I miss out on knowing? Quite literally only Heaven knows.
So that is why I am up early for like my reality the dream too faded away without anything being said. The dream, like reality only leaves behind regrets and thoughts of what could have been.
Most importantly the dream leaves behind a lesson for me and a lesson that I share with you. If you were presented with a do over what would you say and what would you ask? Would you face that moment with courage or would you shrink away from it due to pride and forever be regretful? We never know when our conversation with someone in the dying process will be our last opportunity to say- or to ask. For that matter we never know when our conversation with our healthy loved one will be our last opportunity to say- or to ask.
Don’t let the moment just fade away….
RIP Sheldon Kolsin