My son’s lived in my basement since his wife, two years ago, died of breast cancer. He keeps to himself down there—except when the Sox or Celtics are playing—and only converses after too many whiskeys. Besides that, he slurps black coffee, chews woodenly on frozen chicken tenders, and dreams of his wife (I’m sure, what with all the humming and grinning he does in his sleep) relentlessly. Life isn’t fair: my wife, his Mother, dead now thirteen years, never once entered my dreams. I get strangers, faceless kids, silhouettes, snow. I’ve already dismissed the notion that his wife possessed some glorious quality that my wife did not—indeed, his wife (bless her heart) was half the wife my wife was—therefore I often drop some gigantic book on the floor, or forget all about the teakettle shrieking on the stove, to keep him from dreaming. I am aware that this is cruel. Instinct must be to blame: I’d used these same methods when he, as a teenager, would bring a girl home after school. No: nonsense—only I am to blame. That my son can dream of his wife should have me swinging my cane in the air. I should suggest, being his Father, that he take her dancing, that he let her sing in the shower, that he gorge himself on her terrible casseroles. These dreams, after all, could at any moment cease. This is your chance to make amends, I mean to tell him. Go back to sleep.