I’ve admittedly been feeling overly stressed and anxious in recent weeks, due to life just being ‘life.’ As a result, I’ve started working on a few different posts; but my thoughts have been so scattered, I haven’t been able to adequately finish any of them.
So this week, instead of avoiding, I’m pulling a piece from my college archives – short and sweet, I hope. Not long after my father’s death, I had the following dream about him:
I was standing in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s. The room was full of bright, warm light; and the pleasant murmur of various conversations floated absently through my mind as the cashier scanned my items.
At the end of the counter, my groceries were forming a small pile. Beyond that, I could see the silhouette of a tall man standing quite still beside the grocery bags. I tried to look into his face, and instinctively closed my eyes tightly, since the sunlight from outside was pouring through the large windows at the front of the store. He spoke.
Startled at the familiarity of his voice, my eyes snapped open and his blurry face came into focus. Dad.
I felt my heartbeat quicken. It couldn’t be. I squeezed my eyes shut again, attempting to clear my vision. After all, it was impossible. He was dead.
Opening my eyes, I looked up at him again, this time fully recognizing the familiar, handsome face. The baby blue eyes, the rosy cheeks, the light brown beard. “Dad,” I breathed.
Beaming at me, he nodded and opened his arms wide. I ran to him and hugged him tightly, breathing him in and feeling his warmth. With tears in my eyes, I pulled away and looked at him in disbelief.
“Dad, you’re here!” He nodded. “But, I thought… I thought you died.”
Still smiling softly, he said nothing, but reached up and gently stroked my cheek with his hand.
I woke then. Breathing deeply and steadily in the silence of my dark bedroom, I could still feel his fingers on my cheek. I could still smell him, and I could still see the sunlight reflected on the insides of my eyelids, even though it was the middle of the night.
I truly believe, wholeheartedly, that this wasn’t just an ordinary dream. I believed then, and I believe now – over 8 years later – that my father’s newly freed spirit was visiting me, and letting me know, in the best way he could, that he was healthy, happy, and finally at peace.
I’d like to give a special, virtual hug this week to Mike, Lisa, TJ, Charles, and James – the members of my college writing group, who were the first audience to this depiction. Two Atheists, one Pagan, one Agnostic, and one… I’m actually not certain if it ever came up in conversation. Point being, all of them were receptive and willing to interpret my experience in a way that was authentic to them, while also being respectful of my spirituality and faith.
Be open to the unknown – and this is also a reminder to myself, especially now. Remember to breathe, and be open. The light will guide us, always.