|Moon Shadow, unknown date|
I dreamed of him again last night. Every now and again he visits and I tell him how much I miss him...how much he meant to me...and I hold him tightly as long as I can before he has to go away from me once more. Even after almost 30 years, the tears well up and spill over my cheeks with the intense missing of him...my step-father, Jerry Roberts. He came to us a funny, gentle and playful angel. He made our mother smile and laugh like we'd never seen her do...he made us all feel safe and loved. He made us feel precious and seen and relevant. We mattered. He loved our mother deeply and he loved us girls like his own.
And then he left us. He didn't want to, but for whatever reason, God took him home. He was killed in a car accident in December of 1983.
We watched the joy leave my mother's face and turn into deep sadness. Our little world, our utopia by the lake, under the boughs of Hickory trees laden with moss...was completely shattered. Only a deep chasm of emptiness and grief remained. My sister and my mother and I were forever changed...forever altered by an unimaginable and unbearable grief.
and Here I sit, almost 42 years old....with the same wounded heart of the 14 year old girl he left behind...
I need to tell you this. It is a part of my story, but it is only a part of the reason why I am writing this now. Sitting here vulnerable. Fighting the tears that blur the computer screen as I type.
He comes to me in dreams every now and again...sometimes picking me up in his truck. Sometimes we talk on the phone. Sometimes we meet at the lake; but this time we met at the track and he let me drive the dragster he named "Moon Shadow". Why, after almost 30 years, did I get to drive it?
I think I know.
He knows how I struggle. I feel his presence around me much more so these days...and I hear the sweet phantom sound of his southern voice. When I worry about not being alive for my children....or when i feel the energy drain from my body and I succumb once again to the blue-plate-special-illness of the month. When I am fearful and a little crabby, I remember his playfulness and his smile and his laughter....how i reveled in his attention and generosity; his dark and kind eyes looking back at me...his gentle voice filling my ears. I adored him beyond reason. He was mine, and our everything. He was a wonderful father to me and my young sister. The only one I ever really knew. He loved us deep and wide.We felt it. We knew.
...and so now, I've gotten to drive the car. I had always yearned to. I would dream of it when we'd go to watch him race at the drag strip....he'd let my sister and I sit in Moon Shadow every now and then just to have the thrill of sitting in it...
I know it sounds silly, but I think the dream, well it was a message from him...and in a way, a message to you and that is why I am spilling open here, wider than ever, to bring you the message.
He knew I needed to finally drive the car. To feel the power as I pressed down the gas and the loudness came and the front end came up off the pavement. I felt empowered. I felt alive and joyful. I knew where I needed to go. I knew what I had to do. I instinctively knew how to drive it and I wasn't alone because he was watching and he was proud.
In the dream I was driving the dragster, yet I could also see myself in it at the same time. He was showing me that I could do it...he was showing me what he saw as I drove.
and what a thrill it was to be driving!
But more so, I think his message was this: no matter how limited our time here on this Earth, love is the only thing that matters. It is the only thing we can truly leave behind.
What we leave behind in the hearts and minds of others is all we have. It is all we can truly give.
He gave me all of the generosity, laughter and love to pass it along. Life is so precious. So mysterious. So filled with beauty and despair and resilience and grace and tragedy. I am learning how to love the questions. I'm learning to love with my best possible love. I understand that I will always be a work in progress. I am learning to be more gentle with myself. I'm learning to find more and more humor in it all. And I've finally gotten to drive Moon Shadow. I know I can leave here any time now, knowing I've planted seeds of laughter and generosity and love. This was his message to me.He gave that to me.
He gave me that, to give to you.
In Loving Memory of
Jerry Stephen Roberts
Jerry Stephen Roberts
November 6th 1949 - December 27th 1983