Every year about this time I have a dream that is so sweet and poignant that when I wake up I’m left with such longing that I can hardly stand it. Each time, I desperately try to go back to sleep — to from: http://www.lacoctelera.com/myfiles/egoismo/how_to_heal_a_broken_heart_001.jpgget back there once again and live within that joy for just a little longer,and when I can’t or when I ultimately wake up, I can’t help but cry for the loss.

The dream is never the same, and I never remember it for long, but it’s always about the same person, and the situation is always the same. His name is Mark, and he loves me, and I love him, and we’re blissfully happy.

Mark is a real person. Well, Mark was a real person. He died around this time of year in 1986, when he was only 24 years old.

From the time we were 12 years old, Mark was one of my dearest friends. We had deep conversations, we shared sensibilities, and it was one of his greatest goals in life to make me and his other friends smile.

As wickedly funny, talented, and brilliant as Mark Wilson was, he was also an enigma. He loved to make people think he was something other than he really was, and since it was the 70s, Mark spent much of his time pretending that he was on drugs. When asked a question in class, he’d lazily look at his teacher and say, “huh?”

It was all a complete act, though. He was always keenly aware of everything going on around him, and he thought it was hilarious that the teachers were so naive that they thought a straight A student who was involved in extracurricular activities that required a lot of effort and time was a druggie.

So, while the teachers wrung their hands with concern, those of us who really knew him used our hands to hide our grins and stifle our laughter. Mark didn’t even try pot until he was 21, and he didn’t drink. In reality, he was the perfect kid; he just hid it very well.

Mark played guitar, wrote amazing music, was the best high school trumpet player in the state, had his own comic strip, wrote and created comedy tapes and made me laugh every single day I knew him. He did irreverent things. For instance, he had an old station wagon that had push buttons on the dash to change gears with, and he once drove me home from school in reverse in that car, going 55 mph down the highway…backwards. Every day in fifth hour, Mark made up a different story for me, our legs crossed one over the other on a chair that sat between us, and each one made me laugh till I cried.

By the time we graduated from high school, Mark and I had become very close — likely much closer than anyone realized. We relied on each other. In college, we arranged our classes, making sure they were all in the evenings, so we could stay up all night together, drinking coffee and from: http://www.daysinnuniversal.com/07ihop.jpgeating french fries at iHOP. Our relationship was completely innocent, and it continued as flitted from boyfriend to boyfriend. He was my friend, and I never wondered why such a cute guy never had a girlfriend of his own. I’ve often wondered how I would have reacted if he had ever told me he was seeing someone.

I don’t think I would have liked it. In fact, it might have changed everything.

When we were 20, Mark came over one evening, and in the midst of telling me about The Hobbit, which he had just read, he asked me if we might try having a real relationship, go on a real date and see how it went. When he looked at me that night, there was something in his eyes I’d never seen before, and it scared me, because, even then, I was an intimacy-phobe, though I didn’t know it yet. But I agreed, because I’d been comfortable being alone with Mark for eight years, and there wasn’t a thing about him I didn’t like, and well…I loved him.

So, the next night, we went on a date to dinner and a movie. I don’t even remember what the movie was. What I do remember is him holding my hand, and how his hand shook with nervousness, and how mine was clammy with anxiety. And I couldn’t take it. When he took me home and tried to kiss me, I wouldn’t let him and told him I couldn’t have a relationship with him. It was just too weird. It was like dating my brother. He took it well…shrugged his shoulders and smiled, and that was that.

It was probably one of the biggest mistakes of my life. If only I’d gotten past my initial panic and just let him kiss me, the wall would have come down, and I would have let myself love him and let him love me. But I didn’t, and gradually he stopped coming around every day, though we still remained close friends even after I married. He obviously hated that I had married someone who didn’t cherish me the way he did, but he swallowed his feelings and continued to come over for visits.

The last time I saw him was just after leaving my husband and moving back home after spending a year out of state. We had a chance meeting as we walked in opposite directions down the street. We talked for a long time and made plans to go to the big football game that Friday night — a game we’d gone to together every year from thefrom: http://www.cyfm.net/articles/images/Trauma-Lament.jpg first year we’d known one another until I got married. But he didn’t show up that night, and it was only after his funeral that I found out that he’d committed suicide that evening, shooting himself in the station wagon with the push button gears.

I can still remember driving to the cemetery and searching for his grave, and then crying my eyes out and railing at him while I stood in front of that freshly turned earth.

That night, I had my first dream about him — the only one I remember. He came to my back door and asked to come in, and I let him in. I asked him why he hadn’t come to me before, and he told me that he couldn’t, because I didn’t know that he was dead yet, and he didn’t want to freak me out. I hugged him, and he kissed me, and it felt so real, and then he walked out of my life.

And each year, I dream about him again. I know that the dream is from: http://www.moonandunicorn.com/welcomeF/imagesF/artF/dream.jpgprobably nothing but an expression of unexplored love, a wish fulfillment thing, but I always wonder if he’s not really there with me for just that one night.

I still miss him. I still wish I’d let that wall come down when I had the chance. I still wonder if he’d still be here if I had.

This is a very personal tale — one I wouldn’t normally tell — but after dreaming that dream again, I want people to know about him. He was a special, sweet, wonderful person. There’s no telling what he could have done with his life had it not been cut so short.

Unrequited love is never good, but I believe that unexplored love is even worse. The former has no hope, because only one person is doing the loving, while the latter is full of possibility, because both people love one another. The fact that such wonderful possibility is ignored and left to die makes it a tremendous loss. It leaves a future that never was.

And so, here I am today, mourning my friend, Mark, one more time, and looking forward to next year when we can live that lost future together once again, even for just one night.