This is a dream I had last night, the one just before waking, and it has not left my body all day long. It came at the end of a long night of dreams of running from riots, of constant motion to stay ahead of danger, and keep my loved ones safe. Of hiding and watching helplessly as suffering and fire erupted all around me. I woke several times, but always fell back into the same dreams. The world, I think, is on fire, and I am feeling such strong empathy for all human creation. Plus, I'm working some of my own demons out. Here is the last dream before waking, and when I woke, I was sobbing.
I am an eight year old child. A black boy. My father is dying. He is my only protection and companion in the world. I lost him, but have found him again, in a small apartment, furnished only with the skinny, wooden platform on which his body lies. There are some remnants of clothing and some garbage bags strewn about the room, the walls are white, and there are tattered bamboo blinds on the windows, which are half closed. A flickering light comes through them, which is hazy, and looks like night, though it is day, because of the smoke. All around us in the streets there are riots, chaos, danger. The shouting and screaming never stops except for the occasional moment, when it seems as if all the souls are taking a collective in breath at the same moment. A small window of opportunity for reflection. It is in one of these moments, when I am lost in the streets and desperate to find my father, that a kind woman points me in the right direction. She tells me he is dying, so I think I am prepared, and she warns me it will happen soon, and I should go straight there, as if I would stop anywhere. Suddenly I find myself in a skinny stairwell, the walls are a dirty green, and the stairs were painted black, but are peeling and rotting in some places. Then I am in his room, with the smoky, orange light, and the flickers of all the flames outside making strange shadow plays on the wall. My father is under a thin blanket, and he does not look sick, but he seems to be disappearing. For a minute I am grateful to be out of the streets, to be somewhere where no one is chasing me, where the threat of violence seems temporarily far away, a background noise. He explains to me that he is dying, that he is on fire from the inside. Then he reaches into himself and begins to pull out his bones, which are made of charcoal, to prove to me that he is burning. I take a bone he hands me and it squeaks and turns to dust in my hand as I squeeze it so tight. I keep it in my fist as my father sits up and I throw myself into his arms, screaming and sobbing, “Daddy, please don’t die. Please don’t go, daddy.” Screaming in his arms, holding his bones in my tiny frame, hearing the squeaking of him as he is turning to charcoal dust in my hands. He holds me that tight, too, and my small frame is overloaded with grief and fear, and the feeling of imminent loneliness.