I had a dream last night. I don’t remember much, but I remember waking and this wave of sadness rushed over me. I dreamt of Patrick. He was a boy I knew when I was young. I first met him in fifth grade through Dari, my best friend at the time. They were cousins and we went to the after school YMCA program together. In middle school, my mom enrolled me in the YMCA’s summer program. That’s where I saw him again. He was two years younger than me and had a spitfire of an attitude. But he had the most beautiful blue eyes I’d ever seen. I think I was a little in love with him, even then. We became close friends but when the summers stopped, so did our friendship. He was a grade below me so I didn’t see much of him after that. Years went by and although I never forgot him, he became a thing of my past.
It wasn’t until I was 24 that I’d see him again. I had already been through one marriage and had my daughter. I was in a good place at that time. I had a great job and I was newly single and all about having fun. One night, on a weekend excursion to Midnight Rodeo, a country bar that I had frequented for years, I ran into Patrick. A country dance saloon was far from his cup of tea and he was completely out of his element but he was there with a group of his friends. My heart fluttered. It was different from when I was younger but still somehow the same. I’ll still never forget his eyes. They were mischievous and captivating and oh, so blue.
We started to see each other, for lack of a better term. He lived in a house in town with a couple of his friends. It was party central there, booze and party drugs and everything in between. Soon, his friends became my friends and because as a taxi driver he worked odd hours, I would go over to the house and hang out until he got back. Everything was fun for awhile, but I knew he was never really mine. There was always a distance there and he would never fully let me in. Things started to change and he began to push me away. One night, Patrick called me and by the time I got to the house, a party was in full swing. Not unusual for a weekend but this time, for me, it was different. I walked in and the first thing I saw was Patrick, strung out with some girl all over him. My stomach dropped and I left. I remember sitting in my car and crying. I never really recovered from that moment. What to someone else would seem so trivial was earth-shattering to me. I’ve only been in love once, the real kind. But Patrick was one of those young crushes that could easily have been the forever kind.
I didn’t see him again after that. I moved on but he was never far from my mind. A year and a half later, he died in a motorcycle accident. His friend was driving drunk and they ran into a pole. The driver survived, but Patrick, who had been wearing a helmet, died instantly from a broken neck. I remember getting the phone call from my best friend, Robyn. She was friends with him and the driver and heard about it almost right away. That was a hard night for me. I was already with someone else. Someone I had been with for almost a year and thought was the love of my life. He knew about Patrick and everything that had happened. I burst into tears when I hung up with Robyn – even though we hadn’t parted on the best terms, Patrick still had a major impact on me. The realization that I would never see him again, that no one would ever see him again crashed down on me. The response I received for my tears was just as disheartening. He was mad that I was upset that Patrick was dead. To him, it was an issue of jealousy… I was crying over another man. So, I waited for him to go to sleep and then I grieved alone.
When I woke this morning, it took a while for the dream effect to wear off. It had felt so real, so true, like I was 24 again and I had a chance to do it all over. All those feelings came rushing back to me and I haven’t been able to shake it off all day.
Very few people know this story. It’s the first time I’ve put the whole thing into words. To this day, I wonder if things would’ve ended differently if I had stuck it out. Maybe he would’ve been with me that night instead of with Bud, driving on the motorcycle. All I know is that this heavy weight of depression has been on me all day. Whether its because of the dream, or losing Patrick or life in general, I don’t know. But it’s the only real thing I’ve felt in a very long time and I’m sure its not a good thing.