Dan left this world 8 years ago.
Eight years is a very long time.
Let's say you have a baby. This helpless creature eight years hence can tie their shoes, understand the rules to a sport or a game, ride a bike, make toast, do math problems with fractions, maybe they will even have mastered the multiplication tables. Eight years feels like a miracle when you watch a person becoming more and more of themselves.
Eight years, I guess, is just eight years when someone disappears from your life. It's a blink of an eye or an eternity, depending on how you're feeling at any given moment. But no matter how you feel they're still gone. It's mysterious, this absence that's also a presence.
Unless I'm so tired that I sleepwalk into bed, I have a word or two with the dead. My parents, Dan, a certain friend or two on one night, some others on another night. Then I tell myself that I'm okay. That I mostly did good during the day. And I specifically tell my mom that I won't be coming to see her. Not yet. I remind her that she got to live to be 91, and I'm not ready to leave here yet. I tell her this because in the weeks after she died I had two very vivid nightmares where she came back to get me. I want her to know that I miss her, but that I'm staying in the world of the living for now.
It's been more than a year since I dreamed of Dan. I'm pretty sure I'll dream of him again. I just don't know when. Meanwhile, here's a memory with a dream in it.