Friday, February 01, 2008

A Strange Occurrence

I've been composing this entry in my mind for several days now, and I just can't get it to sound the way that I want it to. Perhaps just plugging on with it is the only way to get it out; thus, here goes:

The day I started back to work after my dad's funeral, my co-worker Laura came to visit me with a card and a pretty potted rosemary. She's older than me, with grown children of her own. She's a good friend to me, but even more than that, has served as my de facto mentor for the past several years. I listen to her more than nearly everyone I work with. (Quite frankly, I have aped her work so often - and then had that work soundly praised - that I'm fairly convinced that SHE KNOWS EVERYTHING.)

So, Laura - a woman that I've followed slavishly for eight years, mind you - came to see me, at my workplace. She gave me a hug, and then said to me, "I want to tell you something that happened to me, after my own father died. He and I weren't that close, not really. But, do you know what?" (She then leaned in conspiratorially) "He came to visit me. In a dream, not right after he died, but a couple of months later."

She continued, "I have no memory of dreaming of my father, prior to this; ever. But, this dream was different. It was incredibly lucid, and we were talking, and sitting in my parents' house, about things that we needed to say to each other." (She teared up a little at this; this is my rock, now, and I've never, ever seen that from her before.)

As she left, she had regained her typical, gregarious composure. I half-expected her to partially laugh off her comment as she left, as this is a avowedly scientific woman - her bumper sticker says, "Militant Agnostic: I Don't Know and YOU DON'T EITHER" - who I've never seen utter a phrase without three journals full of empirical evidence to back her up. But, she didn't; she just said, "He'll come see you. Look for it."

So, about a week ago, the damn dog and cats woke me up about 5 AM, which is about an hour before I really have to get up. The dog was snuffling and licking, which makes The "Violently Sound-Sensitive To The Point Of Utter Insanity" Man insane, so I grabbed her and went with her into the living room. I debated whether to just go ahead and get up, or to pursue the insomniac's usually-futile struggle to catch a few more winks on the couch. Weakness overtook me, so I threw the dog outside, and to the couch I slunk.

Knowing I had to get up in a very short while, and half-listening for the dog to return to the door, I slipped into some sort of fugue state between sleep and awake. I don't know how to explain it. I definitely started dreaming, but I was also vaguely aware of the you know what I mean?

Anyway, I'm sure you can see where this thread is going. Suddenly, it was not like I was dreaming; it was, as though, I was literally, sitting in my parents' house, across the dinner table, from my father.

I saw the grain of the table, felt the knobs on the back of their wooden chairs, wondered why the hell they keep that big stack of catalogs in the kitchen. Everything was so, SO, incredibly, vivid, and clear, which is quality that almost never happens to me in my generally bizarre and nonsensical dreams (which often involve me kissing a random someone I know. I don't know why. But I digress.).

In this dream, my father said to me that he loved me, and that he was sorry that he wasn't a better father to me. I said to him that I loved him, too, and that I turned out just fine. He said that he was so glad that I had such a happy life, and I said that I was glad that he had given me an education and supported me all those years. He cried a little, and I cried a little. Then, his face went all swirly - I could still see the table, though - and it was over, and it was time to get up.

The next day, I called my mother to talk to her about something, I'm not sure what. Midway through the conversation, I paused, and said, half-jokingly: "I think Dad came to see me in my dream last night." She - the buyer of the purple plates, remember - stopped, and said, softly, "Tell me about it."

I did. She replied "Was it a lucid dream?" I said, "Yes." She said, matter-of-factly, "Well, that's what it was, then." She thanked me for telling her about it, and said, to end the conversation, "It WAS real, you know."

Now. I am a soulless heathen, my husband and children are soulless heathens, WE'RE PROUD to be soulless heathens. No argument.

But, honestly? Just for a moment there - a fraction of a moment - I think I saw a glimmer of what makes people believe in such things.

You know?


Connie said...

My book club just made me read "Beyond Knowing" by a forensic pathologist - full of stories just like that. It seems like everyone has a story like that.

Karla said...

1) I WISH I could have a conversation like this with my grandmother who I miss sorely. But I never managed it. I lucid dream frequently, but never with people I miss. Sigh.

2) I am always amazed at what a good writer you are. Seriously. Your writing seems effortless and beautiful, but not in a "wow she's a good writer" way, just a you really know how to write way.

Karla said...

Erm...that second comment was meant to portray that you aren't a showy writer, that your writing is not that sort of writing where you spend all your time thinking what a good writer they are without actually following the story, y'know? Because your stories are good too.

I, obviously, am NOT as good a writer as you if I can't even get my freaking point across.

Badger said...

Yep. It's happened to me. My grandpa and I (we WERE close) hung out together in lucid dreams for about a year after he died. A very dear friend who passed away came to see me a couple of times. My old dog still visits, but only when I'm napping in a certain room of the house at a certain time of day (which I sometimes do, just to hang out with her).

I'm kind of a magnet for weird shit, though, so I didn't realize this was a universal thing. That's very cool to know.

Jaye Joseph said...

A couple of things:
For a few months after my dad died, he was with me, I could always tell. My mom, so not a person you would expect things like this from, felt him on her bed at night and told him that it freaked her out. He stopped.

I have dreams with him in them all the time. I have since he passed away 3 years ago. He almost never speaks in the dreams, he's just there.

I'm so glad that you got to talk to him like that, and I hope he continues to show up in your dreams if you want him to.

Anonymous said...

Lucid dream or not, this is the beginning of closure for you. Whether it was his spirit or your subconscious, the healing process is real.

Anonymous said...

Shannon says...
It happens. It's happened to me with both my brothers over the years. I either wake up feeling very sad, because I wanted to stay asleep and 'spend more time with them' or I wake up very happy because I got to see them again, albeit only in a strange, subconscious kind of way. I have a recurring dream, where they both come back, but no one can say anything, because if we do, they will have to go back to wherever they came from. Weird. Sigh. It is all part of the process.

Karla May said...

I read this post 2 nights ago and couldn't bring myself to comment. Too close; too familiar. And then, I'll be damned, guess who showed up in my dream that night: You guessed it, my dead (five years now, which I can hardly believe) dad. Most of the time when he's in my dreams, which is just a few precious times a year, he speaks, and I get to hear that glorious East Texas drawl of his. But sometimes, he's just there, albeit very, VERY there. And when I woke up, it's reassuring and heartbreaking all at the same time. I'm like, "I just SAW you and HEARD you, but really, I never get to do this again."

I too am a heathen. I pray to those who have gone before me for guidance and strength because at least I know they're a part of me.

Bless you, Mags.

Po said...

Lovely post, Mags, and I am so happy for you that you had this experience.
We live our lives, and what does it consist of but a string of experiences? You fix a meal, you see the sunset, you hunt for something on TV, you rush to get ready for work, you kiss your child, you doubt your worth, you do something that makes you very proud, you plan for something fun in the near future, you have a dream about your father.
My advice, totally unsolicited I know, is to let the experience of this dream bypass your mind and go directly into your soul.
We have such binary minds. Spirit or matter? Objective or subjective?
What do we know?
Materialism is, I think, just as much a leap of faith as is spirituality.
And what was it that your colleague's bumper sticker says?