Often I have dreams of Stephanie, and it's as if I'm spending time with her again. We're walking through Olbrich Gardens, or at the Arboretum, or we're at the library, or on a picnic, or putzing around the apartment getting ready to visit her parents. Whatever we're doing in a good dream, we're doing it together and that's what makes the dreams so much fun. I see her eyes, and it makes me smile. I see everything in her eyes — her blazing intelligence, her love for me, and the extra twinkle when she thought something was funny.
Those dreams are the best thing going on in my world, and I have those dreams often, and wish I could have them even more often. I awaken wistful, crying as I re-realize that she's gone, but in pretty good spirits, at least by post-Steph standards.
Of course, I'm never fully happy, never anything approaching the routine, everyday happiness when she was with me — that's a feeling I no longer know and never will again. But I'm happier than the new normal. Stephanie would cutely accentuate the last syllable for extra emphasis— "happy-er."
Last night was one of the un-happy-er dreams, though. In the dream, Steph was in the nursing home, and I was in our apartment alone and without her, and it felt like I hadn't visited her for a week. I wanted to kick myself for being anywhere but with her, and in the dream I rushed to see her immediately. And when I got there, Steph wasn't even mad that I'd been away, she was just glad to see me. She said, "I love you," and again I saw everything wonderful in her eyes, and again I woke up crying.
Of course, when Stephanie spent several months in that awful nursing home a few miles from here, I lived there, too. Unless I was at work or running errands or at home doing the laundry, I was with Stephanie, sitting or sleeping in a chair beside her bed. So that strange, embarrassed, sinking feeling that I'd forgotten to visit her? It never happened, and never could've happened. But even dreaming that it happened made me feel like a skunk.
I prefer the happy dreams that star Stephanie, over the unhappy dreams like last night's, where we're inexplicably separated. But in last night's sub-par dream, at least at the end of the dream I was looking Stephanie in the eye, and dang me, that was marvelous, always.
She had beautiful eyes, a mellow, easy-going green you might mistake for brown if you weren't looking closely. But I always looked closely. Good days or bad days, Stephanie's eyes were always two matched miracles.
Looking into Stephanie's eyes was spectacular, because I could see all the way inside her head. Not literally, of course; I couldn't see behind her eyeballs, but somehow in Stephanie's eyes I could see Stephanie's soul, her warmth, her intelligence, and always I could see her mood.
I suppose they were standard-issue eyeballs like everyone has, but to me they were the front porch of her face, and I just wanted to pull up a chair and loiter, spend all day and all night looking into those eyes. Dang me, I loved looking into her eyes. Looking into Stephanie's eyes was the best — the best-est thing that ever was or ever could be.