The other night, I had a dream that my grandfather was alive. Not only that he was alive, but that he wanted to go ice skating with me. I was thrilled: I had never seen my grandfather ice skate before (he lived in Cuba, after all!), and I had the distinct feeling that he suggested the activity to please me, partly because he knew I was worried about him, because he had seemed to old and frail lately, but partly because he still kind of regarded me as a little girl, though I was already married and 30 and had a nephew and niece and all these grown-up things. "You will always be my bebita," he would tell me, "even when you are an old lady." I would laugh.
In my dream, my father drove us from my grandparents' Long Island ranch to Central Park, where my grandfather and I would spend the day skating. I kept squeezing his hand and holding him tight, like I knew he would disappear any second. Like I knew I was going to wake up and have to deal with him being gone all over again. But we made it to the rink, and though he rented a pair of skates and managed to strap them on, he mainly smiled as I tried to remember how to do figure eights and glide with one foot in the air. He bought me a hot chocolate. I had a wool skirt and bare legs. I wasn't cold at all.
When my dad picked us up, my grandfather was very tired. I felt bad, like I had worn him out. My father told me: you have given him a great gift. When we got back to Long Island, I held my grandfather, and held him and held him and held him. I didn't ever want to wake up. But I did. My eyes were swollen; my cheeks wet. I cried and cried and cried. I tried to go back to sleep to see my grandfather again. "Tito, vamos patinando hoy?" I asked him over the phone in my next dream. "Mi nina, estoy tan cansado." I went to Long Island anyway. When I arrived my family members were all in my grandparents' living room sobbing. I hugged my grandmother. "Did you forget already: he's gone."