…”and a little child will lead them.” Bible, Isaiah 11-6b
A few days after my sister left this world via suicide, I had a dream like no other I had ever experienced. All of my senses were engaged. I could see our hometown as Amanda and I flew over it, side by side. I could smell the spring air, hear the sounds of the town below and feel the wind on my face and in my hair. We were both silent as we sailed over the places where we had grown up together. It felt so real that part of me still wonders if it was an “out of body” experience. I do know it was a gift from the Lord. It was my chance to have one more moment with her. It was our good-bye.
For over a year after that, I did not dream at all. You may have been taught that you always dream and that if you awaken with no memory of your dream, it is simply because your conscious mind has forgotten it. But contemporary science has determined that this is a myth. In times of deep grief, the brain is focused on survival, and, as a result, some non-essential activities – such as dreaming – may be set aside.
It was only when my dreams returned a year later that I even realized that they had been missing. My recovery had thus far been focused on Amanda’s pain before she left, the well-being of her child, and the grieving of my children and extended family. But what I had left for last was how much she had hurt me personally. She was my best friend, closest confidant, the “baby sister” that I had taken care of and even planned to grow old with, instead of pursuing romantic relationships after painful divorces. I’ve written before about how I had to force myself to be angry at her, because it did not come naturally.
This period of anger culminated in another dream. Like the one I had shortly after her death, this one was once again very tactile and vivid. The surroundings were unfamiliar and I was wandering aimlessly and emotionless. Suddenly my nieces and nephews and children – fourteen all together — came running up to me, exclaiming that they had found Amanda and I should come with them. I did not follow, disbelieving, until I looked into my daughter Abbi’s eyes. They were sparkling and filled with joy. She said to me, “Come see her. She wants to talk to you.” She led me by the hand through a maze of walls until we came into a small opening where all of my nieces and nephews and children were waiting in expectation. Amanda was there but was somehow separated from us. I could see her but not touch her. From across this invisible barrier, she looked directly at me and said, simply, “I did not do it to hurt you.” There was true regret in her voice, but she was not in pain as she had been in this life. I silently forgave her. Seeing her and hearing her words brought peace to my heart. I looked at my daughter’s sparkling eyes, so pleased that she had been able to lead me there. There was a sense of accomplishment and completion.
I am grateful for these infrequent but poignant dreams. They are signposts in the road of my grieving. Upon awakening, my heart still ached that we could not be together, but the dream had allowed a leap forward in the healing of my heart.