I have long been a dreamer of dreams.
As a young girl I remember a particular dream of swimming in our backyard pool with my friends and a porcupine.
Yes, a porcupine.
Now I don’t know if porcupines are good swimmers or not, but this one doggy-paddled with ease right beside me. I loved my quilled friend and he loved me, but I was fearful that he would puncture a hole in the sides of the pool or hurt someone with one of his spines. I just wanted to hold him, to hug him. It was one of those dreams that left me confused and wondering if I was supposed to feel happy or sad.
I also dream in color and once even dreamed an entire dream in Spanish. It was at the height of my reign as President of my high school’s Spanish Club. I took the role very seriously. Muy en serio.
I have had dreams of dinosaurs and flaming power lines at a hometown baseball game. I have had dreams of flying, dreams of teeth crumbling, and those terrible, no good dreams of missing a college exam because I was late for the bus or couldn’t find the classroom. A few of the latter also involved being in various stages of undress. Those dreams have been the worst.
I also met Jesus in one of my most technicolor dreams. He was in town in true rock-star fashion, and I had a backstage pass. In a dimly lit, unfamiliar backroom with streams of blues and pinks and reds and greens flickering from outside the glass walls, he sat on a tufted couch made of purple crushed velvet. He wasn’t dressed in a long flowing robe as one might expect, but instead wore a leisure suit reminiscent of 1969 Jimi Hendrix. He was surrounded by his entourage. There were candles and ice clinking in drinks and awesome rock music. I sat on the floor at his feet and struggled to find the words to say to him. The struggle was real. I can’t remember the conversation at all, but I can remember how wonderful it felt to sit in that very room.
Yet some of my favorite dreams are those I have had of those who have passed on and are perhaps sitting at the feet of Jesus right now.
My high school friend John died unexpectedly in January of our senior year. John was the youngest of three sons. His dad was a preacher and his mother a teacher. He loved God, his family, football, poetry and music, and all that was good in the world. He especially loved my peanut and butter sandwiches and Pop Tarts, which I packed for him every single day. He would find me, without fail, between classes in the crowded breezeway to unwrap and inhale my little gifts. His hugs were the best kind of thank you.
Since 1989 I have had exactly three dreams of John. In the first he visited me at a rest stop on a school field trip. The second found us at a room-filled college party.
It was while pregnant with my fourth child that I dreamed of him the third time. John and I, both dressed in bubblegum-pink fluffy robes and slippers, sat in lawn chairs and watched my children swim in my parent’s pool. I had three pigtails in my hair. We sipped pink lemonade. We enjoyed the sunshine and the shade. After that dream I was convinced that I was happily going to have another daughter. Our nursery was indeed pink that November.
In each of the three dreams John asked me for the time; yet when I looked at the watch face on my wrist, there were no hands, just a blank circle. There is a message for me somewhere in that.
These dreams were cherished because I woke to feel like we had once again visited like old friends often do. The dreams were colorful. They were real. They were comforting.
So it comes as no surprise that following my own father’s passing, I impatiently waited for the dreams to come.
The first came sooner than I expected.
In this treasured gift of a dream, I stood washing dishes at my kitchen sink. I looked out the window to see my father hiding in the woods, clearly running from something or someone. He was looking over his shoulders with a look of sheer determination, not worry or fear.
He made his way to the large boulder staircase that descends to my barn, and once at the bottom, he paused. I noted that he was tall and thin, similar to how he looked in his twenties. He carried a black, metal lunchbox in one hand and wore a gold short-sleeved shirt, grey pants, and black shoes, his work uniform, familiar to me from memory and pictures….the very pictures taken of him as he was teaching me to walk on my own or holding me while I napped on his chest.
He looked over his shoulder one last time, then stopped abruptly and turned to look directly at me through the window. He smiled. He waved. And as he turned around to continue on the path behind my barn into the garden, I made note that he now had a “man-bun” exactly like my oldest son.
I awoke with a smile.
I was assured that my darkness and sadness were going to pass.
All would be well for his soul and mine.
“I had a dream of Poppy last night,” I shared at breakfast. Everyone held their breath.
I reflected on the silence of the dream, his glimpse into my eyes, the wave, and the walk into the garden. We all laughed at the thought of Poppy letting his perfectly coifed, short hair morph into a man-bun.
I knew that it would be well with their souls too.
Months later he visited me again in my deep slumber, yet this time it was just his precious voice. It was a phone call from my dad as he stood at the grocery store dairy case asking if I wanted one or two gallons of skim milk for the kids?
It was marked down. Did I have room in the refrigerator?
Yes, Daddy, I will always have room for an extra gallon of milk.
Drop it off anytime. The door is open.