Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Is That You?

The other morning I awoke so puzzled. Why would I dream that dream?  It's been almost 22 months since my husband passed away. I thought I was over that...

I was walking down the sidewalk with a friend and about half a block in front of me was my husband walking toward us! He had on a bright colored shirt and khaki shorts, and white tennis shoes. He had on sunglasses and it was hard to see his blonde hair from that distance, but I could tell it was him. For a few short minutes anyway, until he got closer, and I could see that the man didn't really have the same build as my husband, or walk quite the same way. The closer he got, the only thing that resembled my husband was the khaki shorts and bright colored shirt. As a matter of fact, as this person approached us, I realized he was actually a SHE with blond hair pulled back into a ponytail!

Now I can just hear my husband saying "you thought I was a woman?" and this would be a pretty funny story, except at the time I wasn't laughing. In my dream I was sobbing as I was explaining to my friend why I thought this was my husband. I woke up with a tear stained pillow and such a sadness in my heart and a feeling that I had almost seen him, but missed him.

Then I remembered the times, almost forgotten now, when I really did feel like I had caught a glimpse of him for a split second, and then realized it wasn't him at all.

A couple times when I thought I caught a glimpse of him there was actually a man walking down the sidewalk just like in my dream. A real man, with a bright colored shirt and khaki shorts. I would be driving down the road and see him walking down the sidewalk and just for a split second I would think it was my husband and then I'd realize it was just a stranger that resembled him.

The last time something like this happened to me I was driving home from a grief support group and stopped at a red light and noticed a red sports car on the side street that I thought looked like his car. As the car turned left in front of me, it seemed like time stood still as the man drove past me and I saw how much he looked like my husband. He had blonde hair, sunglasses and a round face, and as he passed he turned and looked right at me! I felt like he looked right through my soul. It was an emotional experience.

Why do these things happen? I heard of a person who thought they saw their deceased loved one and yelled out at a stranger in a baseball stadium, and another one who followed someone through a crowd. What causes our brains to play these tricks on us?

I think of my brain as a computer and my grief is a folder that is stored in my computer. Then  every loss I have that's associated with my grief is a file that has to be placed into that folder.  My grief folder would have the loss of my soul mate, my best friend, the person who washed my car, my financial security, the one who cleaned my garage, trimmed my bushes, cleaned the pool.

All these files (losses) just pile up until the folder is so full that it can't hold anymore. Then my computer got a little WONKY for a while. I saw things that weren't really there, I couldn't remember things and felt like I was getting dementia. I was emotional and stressed out!

Not everyone grieves in the same way, but these things are a part of the healing process and although I would like to skip them altogether, there is just no way around it. I had to go right through it. I had to feel it all to heal. If I tried to stuff the hurt from my losses back into those folders (and I did try sometimes), they would just pop up again later.  So, although this journey can be uncertain and overwhelming, feel the pain, suffer through the grief, go to a support group, get counseling, the road you're on will get wider and shorter and smoother.

Which brings me back to that crazy dream I had. Someone told me once that if we have a confusing dream or the same dream maybe we should ask ourselves, is my body trying to tell me something, is God trying to tell me something? When I was in the middle of my grief I kept having a dream that I was coming to an intersection with my grandchildren and the brakes went out on my car and the light turned green in the opposite  direction.  I kept trying to figure out why.  Don't get me wrong. I DO NOT interpret dreams! But I felt my life was totally out of control (like the car) and I could not protect my family just like I could not protect my husband. When I finally said "Okay God, I know I'm not in control of anything in my life, you are. My life, my family, we are all yours," I stopped having that dream.

So when I had this latest dream about almost seeing my husband, I said "God, I can't go back to feeling like I almost had him, but didn't. I almost saw him, but he was gone." And thank God, I haven't had the dream again.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


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