dreams, hikes, and conversations with tom

In the early months after Tommy’s death, I rarely dreamed about him, but lately he appears in my dreams very often. Like most dreams, these recent dreams about Tommy are a juxtaposition of fantasy and reality, of “wish fulfillment” and the ever-present memory of the boy and the man we all knew and loved so well.

Playland Arcade, Santa Monica Pier

The playland arcade on Santa Monica Pier

My dreams often find me back in the familiar scenes of Tommy’s childhood, such as the playland arcade on a Saturday night, where Tommy is once again the 11-year-old playing Asteroids and Donkey Kong. Sometimes, Tommy appears in these dreams, as a child, in places he didn’t actually visit until he was older — and vice-versa: an older Tom sometimes returns to a place of his childhood, such as the Venice Playground. In one dream, the teenage Tommy visits me in the carport beneath our apartment in Point Richmond, where he had lived as a toddler but never visited as an adult. In that dream, we sit and have a friendly and animated conversation — and I find myself in the cheerful and carefree presence of the young teenager I knew in the 1980s.

Ellwood bluffs

Ellwood bluffs

Such dreams may also find us hiking or riding bikes on the Ellwood bluffs with my grandson Garrett. Or, in the next moment, we may be outside the Oviatt library at Cal State Northride, as Tom graduates from college.

The Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge

The Oviatt Library at Cal State University, Northridge

I don’t know what these dreams mean but, as I’ve written before, I regard them as a gift. I find myself thinking of a poem by Rudyard Kipling, “My Boy Jack”, based on the story of his son, Jack, who was killed early in World War I, at age 18. Needless to say, Kipling was distraught about the death of his boy, and longed to see him again. Here is the poem:

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Tom Marton, age 24

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One thought on “dreams, hikes, and conversations with tom

  1. Northridge library brought back some memories from my years there. I think that is the same building that was there in 1971 when the Northridge earthquake put every book in the library on the floor. Nice poem too.

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