Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ghost Of A Child

A couple of years ago, a little boy who had attended Kindergarten with one of my sons died at home under sudden and tragic circumstances. The details are irrelevant; it is enough to say that a young family suffered a terrible and unforeseen loss of the worst sort. My son was a guest at the boy's last birthday, and had a wonderful time. He spoke glowingly of his classmate in the aftermath of the child's death.

After a few weeks, he stopped talking about his friend. He was still a little sad, but there was really nothing more to say. Such is the way of things.

More than a year later, my boy became a big fan of a cartoon show whose protagonist shares a first name with the boy who died. He is such a big fan, in fact, that he learned how to access episodes of the show using Comcast's cable TV "On Demand" service. And he speaks the name of the show with an enthusiasm that he normally reserves for his obsession of the moment.

Of course, every time he says the name of the show, I can not help but think of his deceased classmate. He watched so many episodes On Demand this past weekend that it affected my dreams.

The most vivid dream of the night took place at the home of a family with a small boy. My son was visiting on what we 21st century parents call a "play date", and had earlier been there for a birthday party. The parents were so happy. The boy was lively and joyful, and my son had a wonderful time. He was sad when it was time to go.

Later in the dream, I took my son back for another (presumably unannounced) visit. The mood had changed considerably. The happy young couple seemed very morose, distant and withdrawn. I couldn't understand why. They did not explain. Even more unusual was the child. As my son and I stood in front of the house, the child opened the door, stepped out onto the porch, and looked around at nothing in particular. It was as if we weren't even there. Or was it that boy who wasn't really there?

At that point, the alarm clock buzzed and I woke up. The thought process that produced this vision was clear: Hearing my son repeat the name of his friend while watching his favorite program. I felt a little melancholy most of the next day, and told my wife what I had dreamed.

She suggested that it might have been a ghost. Do ghosts visit us in our dreams? I don't know.

What I do know is that my kids are getting extra long hugs every night. Any of us could become a ghost before too long.

1 comment:

Leo Pusateri said...

All I can say is... wow.

I so feel for that child's parents... and your son.

One of the children at a school I work at died suddenly during the middle of the school year..

Nothing sadder, IMO.