It’s the middle of the night and K is making whimpering sounds. I’m lying on my side and she’s behind me, spooning me. I don’t know how long she’s been doing this, but what finally wakes me is the way she’s shaking. I turn to hold her.
“You had a bad dream,” I say. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not okay.”
“It was a dream, sweetheart.”
“It was real.”
She’s sobbing now. I ask her to tell me what happened. She says that her father came to visit and that we were sitting in the living room talking and having a nice time, when suddenly he said he had to go. “You mean back home,” she said, and he said, “No, dear, I have to go back underground.”
“He’s never coming back,” she says now. “He’s underground and he’s gone forever.”
“No, he’s here in your heart,” I say. It’s the only thing I can think to say.
This prompts more crying, and I hold her. In time she turns for a tissue, saying, “I’m getting better at this,” meaning better at blowing her nose when she cries. Nose blowing is my influence.
Later she gets up to pee. When she returns she says she feels better and can go back to sleep.
I ask her to tell me more about her father. “He’s always welcome at our table,” I say.
In the morning I mistakenly believe I dreamt it all, but K sets me straight.
“I blew my nose,” she says. “I never do that in dreams.”