I pulled up to the house, familiar, yet changed, jumped out of the car, and headed for the door. Before I could get up the steps, a woman came out to greet me. "He's up at the other house..." she said. Oh, that's right, I thought to myself, a little puzzled that I had driven to the wrong house, to my dad's former home. I must have had a lot on my mind. I knew he wasn't there anymore, that he was at "the other house" up the hill. Momentarily, I was taken aback by the strength of the patterning that had led me to drive to the wrong house.
The wrong house, where my dad no longer lived. The wrong house, that was no longer our family home. No longer at home. No home. I woke up.
The dream flooded me with grief and longing for my family, for belonging to a family, for belonging somewhere, and for some sense of home. Is the home and family of my childhood reduced to memory now, with both parents gone? Is home the geography and seasons of my youth? Is home where I raised my children and all the beaches I took them to, or the beach house we rented?
It has been eight years since my dad died on Christmas morning. Eight years since I have hugged my brothers, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, and cousins. There is an ever-expanding sinkhole in my heart, that I fear may eventually consume me. Finances and personal circumstances kept me from going home. After all, I chose to go to California.
And now we have Covid restrictions, infants, and high-risk individuals. We've met on Zoom. Yes, It's fun to see all the faces together, hear their laughter, and see the babies. It makes it better and harder at the same time. We've been very lucky so far; we haven't lost any family members to the virus. The one family member I have in CA, I can't visit now.
My dream brought to consciousness my feelings of loss, my need for family, and belonging. I'm living through phases of an empty nest. So this nuclear family is dissolving too.
Despite knowing that this is part of the midlife reckoning, I'm feeling profoundly disconnected. I'm feeling like I don't belong, like the bonds that tie me to my family are wearing thin.
At times like this, it helps me to think on Odysseus. It took him 10 years and many mishaps and adventures to get home. As soon as I can safely travel, I'm going to go and visit my family. Until then, I'm going to tap into my inner Penelope and weave a new fabric each day, only to unravel it again each night, and weave it again each day, making up the daily fabric of this strange covid life from what is here now, day by day. I'll allow myself to weep. I'll listen to my dreams unravel my psyche and try to acknowledge all the places of my heart that are home.