Not long after my brother died, I had a dream about him. In the Christian culture I was in, dreams carried a significant weight. The interpretation of them even more so. I didn't want to dream of Bradley. I somehow knew that dream Bradley was going to be a hologram of real Bradley. And I wanted to savor the last few moments of remembering what he sounded like and the last thing we talked about before it was replaced with an idol of love.
Nevertheless, a couple months later, I dreamed the following: I was walking in a beautiful old neighborhood, it looked like California. As I was walking, I noticed Bradley was beside me. He pointed out a drive way with an old classic car, we noticed it and kept walking. At some point I looked at him and all he said with a smile was "ah buddy".
I woke up in Copenhagen. I had returned there after his funeral and was trying to make my life over there function. It took me a while to unpack why the dream made me sad. It was a good one. He was happy and we were together. Before this, I had had nightmares. I dreamed I saw him walk into a room in his burial suit, covered in dirt and graying skin. Claiming it was harder to get into heaven than we had assumed. That was fucked.
But this dream was comforting in its own way.
The reason it made me sad was because of the way I felt in the dream. When I looked at my brother, I didn't have to explain myself. I didn't have to footnote about my family, my ambitions, the narrative was already understood, appreciated and he was expectant for new chapters.
My brother was my scoreboard. We were each others. But he was definitely mine. I took all my triumphs and bad days to him and we sorted them out like change in a coin star. Losing him was many things, but it was the loss of the dopamine around my accomplishments.
When I teach kids, I try very hard to use my reactions to reward their behavior. They intentionally do something wrong, I tell them. They fix it, I celebrate. They independently hit a complex move in live training, I yell at them how good it was. I want them to know I'm watching and recognizing. I guess I do that because that is one of the things I am working, to be recognized by people I value.
Another score board for me was my ex that lives in Europe that I met after my marriage ended. When we broke up, it was more about timing and circumstances. We loved each other, but the world was pushing us in two different places. However, knowing her left this wish inside of me. I wanted to prove her right. I wanted to go back to America and become rich or famous or both. And prove that her love and faith in me wasn't wasted. I think thats why it took me a long time to let go and still think about her. I'm waiting to see the points go off on that scoreboard.
Thats the harsh thing I guess. Sometimes scoreboards move. They are no longer there where you are playing the game, they were always multifaceted beings.
We are all looking for someone to bear witness to our bravery. To know our game and why some things matter and others don't. Being a good scoreboard is one of the functions of love.