In memory of Stephanie
Muir Beach overlook

This is Our Last Goodbye

Tony Pretlow


I take Ambien for insomnia on a nightly basis. On a good night, I get six hours of sleep. Ambien tends to elicit lucid dreams.

My dreams are interesting, usually entertaining, but always bewildering.

Ambien took me to a different kind of dream recently.

I lost a dear loved one. I dreamed of her the night I was told she had died.

I didn’t see her in the dream. We had a phone conversation.

We talked about how we’d spend a day together.

We discussed picking up a bottle of Chardonnay, an assortment of cheese and a French baguette. We agreed one of the cheeses had to be brie.

We’d have a picnic at sunset on Muir Beach.

Before dark, we’d take a walk on the trail to Cathedral Grove in Muir Woods. I told her it was my favorite place. That we could listen to the trickle of gentle streams and see raindrops bead on fern woods that lined the trail. I mentioned there were wooden benches that begged you to sit.

I could hear the excitement in her voice. It wasn’t the first time I had mentioned the place.

I shared that we’d be able to gaze at the lush green hills around Mount Tamalpais, on our way to the Pelican Inn, where they served authentic British fish and chips. I mentioned the clam chowder. I asked if she liked Irish coffees.

I told her I wanted to buy a pewter beer stein at the inn. That I had been there before and had seen one with a windmill etched on its side.

She said she wanted to get a shot glass for a souvenir.

She asked if we should drive back to the city, or stay nearby. I told her I would check on the availability of a room at the inn. We didn’t have to decide at this minute.

The urge to cry slowly awakened me. I didn’t want the dream to end. Our relationship had always had sad and difficult goodbyes.

In our hearts we know we should have been together. I knew this was our last goodbye.

I expected her to say, “It wasn’t meant to be”. Instead, she said, “If it’s meant to be”.

Perhaps she knew something I don’t know yet.

But, I know it wasn’t just another Ambien dream.



Tony Pretlow

Passionate. Dedicated reader and commenter. Occasional writer. I enjoy writing poems that rhyme. Father of five. Happily married/retired. Northwestern U. Alum