A song from the past floats into my head as I’m falling asleep. I’m a teenager, listening to one of the first albums I bought with my own money. Barbra Streisand: A Star is Born. It’s the end of the story. Esther Hoffman Howard is a widow, taking the stage for the first time since the accident. “With one more look at you…” she begins. “I want one more look at you.” I want one more chance to put it all together and make it make sense.
My husband Jim is in my dreams again. But I don’t know I’m dreaming. I can touch him. I feel his hair, strangely coarse, actually, compared to the thick, loosely curled, soft stuff I remember. But he’s there, in the flesh, inexplicably, and so am I. I want answers. How is it you’re here again, and so often? Was I wrong when I thought you’d died? Has there been a mistake? Are you back for good? Where, exactly, have you been? Speak to me.
He begins to talk, and I hang on every word. He is telling me the secrets of the Universe, of life and death, and I had better remember this accurately later, when I wake up. When I wake up…does that mean that this is just a dream? Logic gets all loose and wiggly again, and consciousness creeps back into my head. Suddenly, I’m awake and sweating hot. I’m in a room by an open window on a street in suburban Milwaukee. And this doesn’t seem to make much sense, either.
Anger. Denial. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. What are the emotions driving these dreams? What is my subconscious trying so hard to reconcile?I keep struggling for meaning. I am angry, I suppose. I deny that Jim died at the age of 47. That was too soon. It doesn’t fit into my perception of How Things Ought To Be.I do not accept it. Even now, more than four years later. Although, even in my dreams, I know that he is dead, and that is Real.
Enlightenment is, roughly, when you accept all that is…without the ‘you’. Ego is inconsequential. Acceptance, peace, wholeness. All Is. I guess I’m not at that point yet. I work on it through the night. I imagine Jim trying to help me out, but his input just confuses me. And I’m still too involved, trying too hard to wrap my little brain around the incomprehensible. How can I simply let it go? Accept ambiguity. Accept mystery. Accept it all. Accept. Accept.
Wow. Words fail me, but they clearly are not failing you.
Words actually have been quite helpful. The trick is now to go beyond them…
Heartfelt post, Are they comforting, these conversations? I have a nice visit with my Grandmother every now and then in my dreams.
Well, I wouldn’t say that comforting is what they’re about. But I’m learning about myself from them.
You will let it go, or not, whenever your subconscious is ready Scilla. There isn’t any right time scale on grief; it takes as long as it takes.
Intellectually you know that he has died but emotionally is another thing altogether.
I’m glad you have such close family and Steve to support you.
Hugs from across the pond. x
Thanks for the hugs, my friend. This picture was taken on your side of the pond…Cheltenham Spa.
Oh ! 🙂
For a long time I had dreams like that of Alice. At first they were about how I discovered that she was still alive but had gone into hiding or had amnesia or otherwise did not want to see us anymore. I felt very angry and abandoned. Later, after I learned to meditate, she would come to me with messages of forgiveness for myself and others. At some point those messages began to bubble up from inside me during my waking hours and I no longer dreamt of her. For over 10 years following his death, our grandmother used to wake from dreams of our grandfather every time she slept. If you want the company, Jim will be there. If you want the secrets of the universe, they will be there too. Blessings on you as you dream your way to wholeness.
Interesting. Angry and abandoned. I can’t remember what dreams I had of Alice now; I’d have to go back to my old letters to Jim. I’m guessing guilt played a part. I never knew that about Grandma. Did she tell you that, or did Mom?
She told me… let’s see, probably in 1982 which was 16 years after Grandpa died.
So poignant, Priscilla. Thank you for sharing and I hope it does feel like a release for you. I’ve had dreams about both my mom and dad where I would have sworn it was real and they were alive. One about my dad was that I realized he had been alive but he had just been gone (somewhere) and it seemed so real it disturbed me for days. it boggles the mind to wonder what the meaning of these dreams are….but I think your last lines are exactly what we need to do.
Our brains are so interesting – they will rearrange the universe for us. I’m just trying to tell mine that it’s not necessary.
Scilla, this is an amazing piece of writing. So powerful and insightful.
Thank you very much. It’s also therapeutic!