By Mary Cann
A few months after my dad passed away I started dreaming of him. My first dream was so vivid it’s still in my mind today. He was in the kitchen of my house, sitting in his black bathrobe, his hair a mess atop his head. He was in his favorite chair, as energetic as I have seen him in a long while. I was very confused as to why my dad was living in my dreams and wasn't there when I awoke. My mom told me this happens to a lot of people when someone they love dies. My dad stayed alive in my dreams for years until suddenly they just stopped. When Bobby passed away I was terrified of the dreams that were to come. I knew they would be worse because I remember Bobby so much better. I had my first dream last night. It began as a memory of Bobby when he came home for a surprise visit and jumped out from behind our kitchen counter. Then suddenly he multiplied, more and more Bobbys appeared until he finally filled up every spare inch of my kitchen, then suddenly he erupted into laughter. A deep belly laugh that shook the whole house. The laughter continued for what felt like hours until I was shot awake by an outside force. I lay in bed thinking about how much I hated my dreams about my dad because they always left me feeling empty, but my dream of Bobby was different, I woke with a feeling of hope, like Bobby had given me the strength to get through today. I don't mind having that dream for the rest of my life if it means I never have to stop hearing that laugh.
Exactly a year ago today I graduated from high school. After the ceremony we returned home for my graduation party where, at just about this time, Bobby and one of my other wonderful brothers split a bottle of my mom’s favorite champagne, threw in just a bit of orange San Pellegrino and proceeded to horribly embarrass me in front of my boyfriend of 10 days. During this Bobby proclaimed “If you can't handle this, you can't handle the real world”. If I'd known one year later I'd be standing here I wouldn't have held a grudge for so long. What was once my least favorite memory of Bobby is now my favorite. He was celebrating the fact that his little sister had completed high school and was heading off to his alma mater in the fall. Bobby only got to visit me once at UNH. The same boyfriend, who, god bless, stayed with me after that horrific party, was visiting for the weekend. As we headed down Main Street to meet Bobby for lunch at Paulys Pocket, Eric pointed him out after I joked that he was probably going to be late. I didn't believe it was him at first, this guy didn't have nearly enough facial hair to be Bobby. But sure enough it was him, as clean shaven as I have seen him in years, and of course clothed in his infamous UNH Wildcats T-shirt.
This lunch was one of the first times Bobby and I really talked, as we were growing up we were always in different places, he was in college before I even made it to high school, so I was just his annoying little sister who slurped her spaghetti that way he hated so much and listened in on his conversations with girls. I'd always thought we would have time to build a stronger relationship when we were in that same place together. On that sunny September afternoon we were as close to equals as we have ever been, [and now will ever be]. We talked about Hoco, football games and classes, we discovered that I had the same professor for math that he had, and that Bobby was the creator of his facebook fan page. He told me he was going to have to visit for Hoco's thanksgiving dinner because it was the best meal I'd ever eat there, and he advised me to stay away from pizza if I didn't want the freshman 15. I could see how proud Bobby was of me, and how excited he was to share such an amazing connection. I know it will be hard going back to campus in the fall and for a few days after his passing I considered transferring. It's nearly impossible to explain because Bobby and I never attended UNH at the same time, but I choose to go to UNH because of him. Because he was absolutely in love with every aspect of it and if Bobby loved something it was truly special. So I'll go back, I'll go back because Bobby would never want me or anyone else to miss out on something so wonderful because we are scared of the challenges that accompany it.
While all of these thoughts are flooding the minds of everyone affected by his death, of how things used to be and how they are now forever changed I am reminded of a quote I once read from Lemony Snickets Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid. He wrote “It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited... And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.” Now we must readjust and trudge on, as hard as it may be, if not for ourselves, then for Bobby.