I Can’t Carry Your Bad Dreams

And I don’t want to.

Photo by Harrison Haines via Pexels

My mom called twice this past Saturday, to tell me she’s been dreaming of my father — bad dreams and I didn’t want specifics. I can’t carry the weight of her fears about his life in my veins. I don’t want to bleed his death — don’t want to aid in the byproduct of the potentially foreseen.

My parents have been divorced since I was twelve years old. I am forty. My mom has never dreamed about my dad before, at least, not in the way she’s dreaming of him now. What does it mean when a former spouse dreams about their ex dying more than once?

According to Dream Moods, a list of explanations regarding dying in one’s dreams or death and dying of another in your dreams includes the following:

In such dreams, the death is often represented by someone else. So if you dream that someone is dead, then it means that you want to repress that aspect of yourself that is represented by the dying person. Whatever that person represents has no part in your own life anymore.

The above statement is from the section, “Death means a part of you has died.” I understand this. This is a statement I can get behind to support, but how do I convince my mother of this?

Could these dreams be the signal she needs to alert her in feeling and knowing the pieces still lingering and holding on to their past are finally breaking off — finally dying? Could she be in the beginning stages of renewal so many years beyond their end date?

Writer, Molly Longman, takes the above thought-process a bit further. “Death in dreams actually means there’s some sort of change or ending happening in your life. To the subconscious mind, this represents the end of life ‘as you now know it.’” There are several milestones that have occurred and are on the verge of occurring in my mother’s life.

She overcame hard drug abuse, is cutting back on smoking cigarettes, has cut drinking liquor out of her recreational activities, and she will be fifty-nine in September. With her being so close to sixty years old, we often talk about how hard the road has been for her — for us and we reflect on those times, grateful to be where we are as mother and daughter.


I am not a dream expert, but I have often been told that our dreams have more to do with us than anyone else and I feel as though this could be the case in this instance, but how do I approach this angle with my mom? How do I tell her the deep soul-searching she should try is probably tapping away at her psyche and she’d be wise to get ready to swim?

“I had another dream about your dad. Is he all right? Have you been keeping up with him regularly?”

My responses have been generic, but reassuring. I don’t want to get into anything too deep with her because I want to respect my dad’s boundaries. I also don’t want to start stoking any fires that have no reason to burn.

“Perhaps life is just that . . . a dream and a fear. “— Joseph Conrad

There is a thin line between listening to comfort one parent and blindly assisting them with their clouded beliefs or feelings. It is not in my best interest to give my mom any ammunition to further fuel her “bad dreams.” I want to be able to make her understand that dreams aren’t always what they seem and are often pathways to many doors we should open ourselves.

“As far as I know, Mom, he’s alive and well. Everything is okay on his end. Everything is okay.” And currently, all is indeed well with my dad.

I believe that and even if I did not, it is not my place to state otherwise unless I am told I can. My mom has enough fear within her about these dreams — I wish to aid her in finding her path away from them. “Perhaps life is just that . . . a dream and a fear.”— Joseph Conrad

If you have been having dreams of someone else dying — a mutual friend, a close relative, or one of your children, I would suggest researching the possible why of it — look into what could be transforming within you first.

I would not suggest tossing those bad dreams on to someone else. I assure you, that person is probably carrying enough, they do not need your misguided fears too.


Originally published in P.S. I Love You via Medium.

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When the Night Barks

And love has no bite

Photo Credit: Luis Quintero via Pexels

If I had a magic wand, my life would not include me saying the following statement multiple times a week: “No, I am not taking any visitors at this time. Due to my line of work, it’s best that I do not.” For those of you who do not know, I am a Patient Access Specialist turned Screener for an imaging facility. My transitional position, due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, places me front and center in surveying patients and taking their temperatures prior to entering our waiting areas. I screen anywhere from one hundred twenty to one hundred eighty-five people per day with a low to moderate percentage of exposure to the virus.

Some family members get the importance of my refusals to their requests, others want to test the waters of me and see how far they can take their reach without me blocking it or shutting it down. I am not one who likes repeating herself but for this, I make sure I am loud and clear.

I will miss out on a few opportunities for gathering with family this summer and it is because I have to take every precaution to ensure my safety and the safety of others. My health is important. I want to be sure it remains intact for the foreseeable future.

I have brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts who want to visit from various Coronavirus, COVID-19 hotspots across the nation and in my mind, all I can think is, “Why would you want to visit me while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic? Why do you think I want you to?” Politely declining family gatherings and visitations is becoming my forté but I have no regrets. At least, not right now.

But how will I feel when the night barks and love has no bite? What will I do when the yearning for a hug becomes the one prayer I lend to God religiously? Am I strong enough? Will my defiance of running toward “some sense of normalcy” get the best of me? Only time will tell.

Right now, I am in avoidance mode and for several reasons. I cannot, in good faith, slack off in any way on the methods of survival and remaining virus-free if I give in to the simple requests of others.

To an unbearable extent, everyone is antsy. They’re ready to experience life the way they knew it to be Pre-Coronavirus days, but I am faced with the reality of its deadliness every single day and I am in no rush to gain a life back that does not have what I mostly need from it.

I have had the ungodly task of living through sixteen days wrought with worry while a co-worker panted through the depths of Hell and came back from a rigorous bout with said virus and the last thing I want is to be in his shoes. No, thank you.

It breaks my heart to not be able to see, spend time with, and share in the love of my beautiful family, but I love them enough to know I am bad for their health and to keep myself away from them regardless of their pleas. I love them enough to want them to live through this phase of life, come out unscathed, and tell the story of it.

The night does pull at me and oftentimes, I haven’t the strength to conquer it. A few loud barks from its deep voice doesn’t scare me. I don’t even flinch.

But, I will be completely transparent, it’s the absence of the vastness of love and all versions of it I miss the most. It is the intensity of a thing I’ve forced myself to believe I want more than breathing. I want to live through this pandemic and share stories of it with the same loved ones pressing me to open up my door and let them in.

Will I lose their admiration and perhaps the closeness we’ve had over the years? It is a possibility. But, I’d rather keep the potency of love in its full form in my heart than run the risk of losing its bite.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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You Don’t Know. You Can’t Know.

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska via Unsplash

No one tells you what
to feel when your co-worker
is diagnosed with a virus
that does not relent, has no remorse,
could not care less about your
family, friends, lifestyle, sexuality,
or economic status.

They don’t prepare you for
the see-sawed up and down
roller coaster ride you will experience,
constantly checking to see if he’s okay.
Your insides grow numb,
your mind loses its pistol-like
ability to adapt to anything, and you
find yourself saying . . .

“It’s okay.” “It’s okay.” “It’s okay.”

But, you don’t know.
You can’t know.
You have no earthly idea
if it’s okay.
One day, he’s breathing well
on his own, the next — oxygen levels
have tanked and ICU is clamoring
to scoop up another body and
swivel the bed up against the back wall
of a hospital room that smells more like
alcohol and potent disinfectants
than a place someone goes to
heal.

When you work in healthcare,
you grin and bear it, tuck your feelings
deep within you, move on, and
fight until your bones crack and ache
and it pains you to sit down, and you take
your ass home, shower, cook, walk your dog,
and find thirty minutes of rest before you
get up and do it all over again.

And you still wonder,
“Will he make it today”
or “Will today be the day
our higher-ups plod around with
heavy feet to tell us of his death?”
You don’t want to hear the sound
of the Grim Reaper coming with
his scythe ready to strike.

You pray for this loved one, call in
backup and ask them to send warriors
with fangs that cut through tough flesh
and hearts of pure gold.
God becomes a friend you argue with and
confess things you’ve held deep within
you for decades.

You tell him you’re tired of his bullshit —
you want him to let this one be.
Let this man live so his nine-year-old
son can see him smiling once again.
You tell him to get it together and not
make any more room for lives
senselessly lost to something we
cannot contain.

And then you cry yourself to sleep
again — just like you did
the night before. And the one before that.
And the one before that.

Then, you wake up,
put on the face they ask you
to wear to work, cover it with a mask,
and ready yourself for more
of the same.

You don’t know — you can’t know
if he’ll live.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

“You Must Watch CNN!”

How a Racist Patient Tried to Ruin My Day and Failed.

Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, I was at my screening station doing the part of my job I have learned to love as much as I dislike it and things were going smoothly. I had only one incident of a patient who waltzed into our doors not wearing a mask and tried to quick-step past me to get into one of the waiting areas. I stopped her, advised her of the sign on the building’s doors that begins “This is a mask-requirement facility”, and offered her a mask. She declined it — stated she would not wear one. I obtained her name, the exam for which she was scheduled, and informed her she could either reschedule (by calling our scheduling department) for a later date or comply with the regulations. She chose the former.

Later on in the day, an elderly patient came for a procedure but brought her slightly older husband with her. We are currently on a “No visitor rule” of which many of our patients are made aware prior to scheduling and entering the building, however, some people forget or just want to test the waters. This patient knew the regulations but had her husband drive her. She said to me, “Baby, I know y’all ain’t letting anyone else in the building, but please, can my husband sit in here until I am done?” Now, I was raised to respect, love, and take care of my elders. Of course, I was not going to let an eighty-eight-year-old man sit in his car on one of the hottest days in June so far, while his wife had services rendered.

I obtained one of the chairs from our waiting area, sat it about ten feet from the entrance, and made sure he was comfortable. I screened both him and his wife and he sat with me in the foyer while I continued to do my job. While screening another patient, I could see a White, heavy-set, angry-looking male approaching our doors. He did not have on a mask. He would enter the building without one. I asked my patient to give me just a moment, put on some gloves, and met this young man at the door, greeted him, and gave him a mask and asked him to please put it on. He did not. Instantly, in my head, I said, “Oh, this is going to be interesting.”

I finished with my patient, asked the young man to please approach me, but put on his mask first. This is what followed:

Patient: “I would rather not.”

Me: “Okay, sir. It’s totally up to you what you would like to do, however, this is a mask-required facility, so no mask, no service.”

Patient. “You must watch CNN.”

Me: “I watch whatever is going to make me knowledgable about the events around me, sir. Now, we are going to begin your screening process. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

Patient: “Everything is NO NO NO NO & NO!”

Me: “I will log it in my memory bank that your answers will be no, sir, but I still have to ask the questions.”

I proceeded to ask him the screening questions, each of them already previously responded to, so I moved through them hastily. It was when I got to the last question that his entire demeanor shifted and his anger became even more concerning.

Me: “Thank you. Do you mind if I take your temperature?”

Patient: “Yes!”

Me: “Sir, are you refusing to have your temperature taken?”

Patient: “Yes, I am!”

Me: “Okay, sir. You will turn around and exit the building for not cooperating with the screening process. We will call you at a later time to get you rescheduled. Please have a great day.”

This guy rips off his face mask, kicks our doors open, and starts shouting expletives as he’s leaving — loud enough for everyone in the foyer and our two waiting areas to hear him. One of the sentences being, “Ain’t no fucking Coronavirus, this is fucking ridiculous!” Now, bear in mind, I still had the eighty-eight-year-old man waiting in the foyer with me and by this time, two more women were waiting to be screened as well. One lady witnessed the entire exchange, the other came in on the tail-end of it. The lady who witnessed everything; White, heavy-set, and peaceful-looking, was next and I called her up to begin the screening process.

Me: “How are you doing today, ma’am?”

Nice Patient: “I am doing good, baby. I can tell this ain’t your first rodeo and I want to tell you that you handled that very well. Some people are just ignorant.”

Me: “Thank you, ma’am. I appreciate that. Do you mind if I ask you a few screening questions?”

Nice Patient: “You go on ahead and do what you need to do.”

I completed the screening process with her and apologized to her for witnessing what transpired and she quickly informed me I had no need to apologize but she thanked me just the same. I made her aware I would have to contact my center manager to explain the situation and asked if it would be okay to give her name just in case they want to contact her. She assured me she would be helpful in any way she could and agreed to me giving her information to our center manager. I walked over to the elderly man waiting and made sure he was okay. I apologized to him for having to witness the debacle and he said “You don’t need to apologize to me for a thing. I knew he was going to be trouble when I saw him walking towards the building.”


Photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

With everyone safe, screened, and sent to their respective waiting areas, I began to contact two of the modalities and my center manager. I keep my cell phone in the foyer with me as I have the direct phone numbers for each modality so we can communicate quickly and effectively about our patients. I contacted our Open MRI modality as the angry patient was scheduled for their scanner, explained the situation, and informed them our front desk was asked to please cancel the patient’s appointment for “Failure to comply with screening protocol.” I contacted the Mammogram department as their waiting area is the same as our Open MRI, so they could be aware — this is a person who could have potentially been waiting with others for their exams.

With those two modalities informed, I began to send my center manager a Microsoft Teams message. I explained the entire situation in full detail — making her aware the patient was far away from the facility and everyone who needed to be contacted had been so. Her response was, “Are you okay? Is everyone safe? Is anyone hurt?” I informed her I was fine, a bit shaken up, but otherwise okay and no one was hurt. She began her research on the patient and informed me she would speak with our Chief Tech in the morning who had taken the day off.

There was no, “Let me take a moment to collect myself” or “I am scared as hell, but I won’t let him see it.” I had to keep things moving regardless of what happened because other patients are a priority and their care is my concern. My team’s safety is my concern. This is simply another incident occurring living while Black and I am used to maneuvering through life simply for survival’s sake. I operate in peace on most days, however, I am stern in my explanations of our process while being tactful. I have a cheerful disposition, but please do not mistake this for weakness. If provoked — as in, if you lay your hands on me, I am not a stranger in having to cold punch you in your throat. I will do so if I have to. I do not want to.

Word traveled quickly throughout our facility and soon, my coworkers came out, one by one (up to six of them), to tell me how much they love me and are happy I am there doing what I do. One said, “I want to hug you so badly right now and I know I can’t.” I knew I needed that hug and I welcomed it. She held me and I could feel the tears starting to form in my eyes and I quickly gathered them and said to her, “I want to cry, but I am not going to. I cannot do anything about racists and their behavior. I can only do something about my reaction and he will not steal my joy, but I don’t want to die here.” She squeezed me and said, “I love you. We all love you. We have your back. You aren’t going to die here.”

At work, I am called, “The Sheriff,” “Top Flight Security,” “Drill Seargeant,” and “The Bouncer.” These are all names my coworkers have given me as they state I am meticulous in how I run our foyer, our waiting areas, as well as how I interact with my team. Plainly put, I get things done. Many of them, on various occasions, say “I don’t worry about a thing if you are out there screening our patients.” Regardless of what I encounter on a daily basis, I can look to the people I share the facility with for eight to ten hours a day and know they will come to my aid.

The next morning, Friday, June 12, 2020, the Chief Tech came to my station and said, “Tre, I want you to know I have called the referring physician’s office, spoken with his office manager, and gave her the details of the incident from yesterday. They were informed that we do not tolerate that type of behavior here and he will not be able to have his scans done in the future. I am sorry you had to experience that. I really am.”

I thanked her. I am grateful for people who are actually standing on their word. You can tell me what you are going to do or how you are going to do things, but I will tell you right now, loose lips do not provide me any service. You have to show me where you stand in order for me to believe you. Our staff has shown me, is showing me, and this, during a time of great turmoil, is a blessing.

As the day came to an end, my center manager checked on me once again. She made sure I had everything I needed and informed anyone with free time to relieve me whenever I needed to step away. She said something I truly do not want anyone to ever feel they have to say to me: “I wish I could be in your shoes for just one day, so I can know what this feels like.” I stopped her. It wasn’t her first time saying it and I know it’s a way of wanting to know — wanting to feel what I feel — I told her once again . . . “You do not want these shoes. I am Black every single day. I know how to carry what I carry. Everyone isn’t equipped to deal with this.” Her eyes teared up as did mine and I thanked her once again for allowing me room to vent and standing alongside me.

Knowing what I know at my place of work, I feel less alone, but I still am.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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come, there is no more peace here . . .

Painting Wallpaper
Art by Steve Johnson via Unsplash

come, there is no more peace here . . .
not even if you hold your breath
and cling to the idea
that one day soon or in the
distant future, it will reappear.

it has taken leave, hoisted up its
confidence on its shoulders and
walked away with the tears of
every praying Black mother,
every aching heart of Black fathers,
and with the lips of every
Black partner.

no justice. no peace. no justice. no peace.
no peace. no peace. no peace.

if you dream it, it will be . . .
those dreams aren’t for
Black people, we can shout something
into the great beyond and as sure
as the ground is hard, every
verdict will remain one
we fight ourselves about
with the waking breaths of an

angry God who has decided He’s done
picking up the pieces and
can only watch as his children
brutally murder their brothers and sisters

what a sight that has to be for
omnisciently sore eyes.