When the dead come to your dream’s door

"Scooter," a whistling whisper said to me last night when I was in bed. The voice came in clear. I can hear in my dreams. I knew exactly who it was then, but had no idea why he said it.

It was Poppa. Dead for almost two years, hearing his voice is something that I’ve been waiting for. I’ve tried to write like I have. But you can’t fake fiction.

Scooter was a name that my father called me – he had tons of nicknames for his son – and a name the brother of a friend I once had called me. But Poppa, who was mostly deaf, never called me Scooter, and probably never associated the word with me, his youngest grandson.

My one-time friend Mike Stone had a brother named Jeremy. Unlike Mike and his other brother Derek, Jeremy was skinny and weak and coughed a lot. He was born with a disease that makes you shoot blanks, Mike told me at the time. Jeremy was always glad to see me, nice when he didn't have to be. I think about him often and know he is residing in the better of two afterworlds.

The last time I saw Jeremy alive was at University Hospital in 1996. He seemed OK with knowing that he was about to die. He was happy that I came with Mike to see him, and we played some card game that I don’t remember, and, before I left he said, “Goodbye, Scooter.”

I saw my grandfather alive for the last time in Presbyterian Hospital, the same one I was born in.

It was two years ago, and since I’ve been waiting for him to talk to me, waiting for his words so I could type them down. Remember them and live by them. He was supposed to be the voice inside my head that told me how to live – he lived to 99. He was supposed to say what I should be doing, how to spend my time, which way to go. But I’ve had to figure things out without him. I don’t blame him; I just wanted more of his words.

When I was waiting for his funeral service start, I found a tape that he talked into. That weekend I transcribed what he said. I wrote the story he told. When I turned off the recorder I hoped he would continue to speak to me. I always wanted more words from him. But they didn’t come until last night.

I'm in bed when someone looked in my room to check on me and said, “Scooter,” in a whistling whisper that I recognized as Poppa’s voice. And that was all. He referred to me by a name he never called me, but one that I recognize as me. One of my father’s nickname, a name I was also called by the now-dead brother of a friend I no longer speak to. "Scooter," Poppa said. He never called me by it living, but spoke it to me in my dream last night.

When the dead talk to you, you write it down. You remember what you hear and the voice stays with you. The dead aren’t around to give you advice. Just to remind you who you are.

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