Naps are something I almost never took while I was working, except if I were sick or on vacation, or if I were very tired. They were part of childhood, long abandoned to adult all-day schedules.
On vacations, though, I indulged in them. I’d run errands, perhaps take walks, or go sightseeing. Naps were for refreshing myself. And in Greece, they are just part of the culture. Indeed, when I was there on sabbatical in 1996, I was told not to call anyone between the hours of 4-6, and maybe even 2-6. Those were private, reserved for naps. Or perhaps for other private things. I quickly became addicted to those naps, but once I’d return to the U.S., there was no way to work them into a U.S. work schedule, especially an academic one. Not that I’d abandon them, but they became part of weekends or visits to the beach or at Dad’s. Lying down with a book, reading, and drifting off for a relaxing nap became a hallmark of true relaxation.
Now, though, I can take them whenever I want — if I’m home and not out and about. That’s what I did today. A sinus headache nagged me all morning and I couldn’t shake it. I simply tried to work despite it, taking a few ibuprofen and drinking some water. My brain seemed sluggish and fuzzy — I just couldn’t really focus for long on anything.
After spending some time on the computer, and time straightening up work space for crafting, I slipped into bed, between freshly changed sheets, and read for a while. I woke up a few hours later, headache gone.
But with the nap came dreaming, and when I woke up I was in one of those states where the dream is so real that it was difficult to tell what was dream and what wasn’t.
The dream wasn’t a bad one; just the opposite.
I’d been dreaming about Dad. I couldn’t tell you what it was about. I just knew that when I woke up, I felt warm and comfortable, almost as though I’d been hugged.
Before I knew it, I’d rolled over and picked up the phone to dial Dad’s phone number. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t. His phone has been disconnected; for the first time in decades, that number doesn’t belong to the Ware family. I could dial it, but don’t know who’d answer. It’s probably been re-assigned, of course.
Holding the phone, I was simply aware that I was once more empty, lost. I didn’t have anything pressing to talk to Dad about — not any crisis or problem. I just wanted to chat, to see how he was, and to connect. The phone couldn’t do what I wanted it to do.
Those moments when the desire is to connect to a parent or another loved one who’s dead, when we’ve forgotten that they’re no longer with us. That desire somehow rises despite our consciousness that they are gone, overrides it, negates it.
My brother and sister and I were fortunate in our relationships with Mother and Dad. We liked them as well as loved them. We enjoyed spending time with them. It wasn’t a chore or an obligation that made us visit them or pick up the phone and call them.
Now, though, Kay and I are left, without Mother or Phil or Dad. We have each other, and though we snip at each other and disagree, we also cherish each other. We text and email every day, since she’s not able to talk on the phone while she’s at work. We talk every few days also.
But today, wanting to talk to Dad was just overwhelming when I woke up. Naps are lovely, but sometimes awakening from the dreams that accompany them is bittersweet.