I remember when my father called.
“Dead. They’re dead,” he said through sobs.
“Who’s dead?” I whispered.
“They. 3 of them. I got back to the jetty and saw them lying there. All dead. I can’t find Uncle Jonathan. I lost him.” Dad continued.
There had been an accident. Their ferry had started sinking, barely 300 meters away from the jetty. None were wearing their life jackets. All their lives were risked. The captain had failed to warn them, then jumped over and swam to shore by himself, leaving his crew and passengers flailing about to save themselves.
A few days later, they found my uncle.
His body blue, swollen and dead. Very dead.
I didn’t feel like he was gone, although he must have been. His body was lifeless, but did life really begin in this body? I registered this thought as I stood by his coffin. “Where are you? I asked Uncle Jonathan. He didn’t reply. He was too busy being dead.
That night, as I lay in bed, I dug up all the photographs I had of and with him, and I pasted his photographs on my wall. I didn’t know that was a direct invitation for him to come to me.
It took a long time to fall into slumber, and once I did, I was transported into the other dimension. In this dimension, colours are more vibrant. And his body looked unnaturally blue, almost like a smurf.
He was still dead. But he must have crawled out of the coffin somehow because now he was right beside me, on my bed, wetting my pillow. I didn’t want to say anything, so I ignored my soaking wet pillow and sheets.
He didn’t say anything. His arms were crossed, and his hair was soft. His eyes gently closed, as if he were sleeping. He loved taking naps anyway, so I guess he came all this way to nap.
The years went by and I continued dreaming about him. It took a few years for him to stop sleeping wet in my bed. He finally woke up. I saw him in another recurring dream where we keep meeting each other in public. He doesn’t know I can see him. He looks lost and confused, unsure why no one can see or talk to him. But he is in no pain.
A few more years go by and now, he knows I can see him. We are standing across our family; he waves his hand at me to say hi. We both know he’s not ready to go yet, and so we go on our way, him doing his dead thing, me doing my dream thing.
Another few years go by and one day, I knew it was time. He walked confidently towards me. And gave me a big hug. It felt completely real to feel him, and know that we don’t just exist in our empty bodies. We didn’t talk. But in this world, talking isn’t needed.
When he finally let me go, he was there no more, barely a mist in the air.
My uncle took 6 years to go. And that was the year my therapy dog died.