Early Sunday morning I woke up crying from a dream. I was so sad and so emotional, I almost woke Marc up to put his arm around me (which I always do when I have nightmares). Eventually I fell back asleep, but not after crying for quite a while and going over the dream in my head numerous times.
I keep having dreams about my grandparents. And I have a total love/hate relationship with these dreams. I love them because in the dreams my Granny and Grandpa are interacting with me; I can see them; they are there. However, I hate them because I am always aware in the dreams that they really aren’t there. Sometimes the dreams are based around the days before their death. Other times the dreams are just little bits of life where there is no indication that they will die. But, no matter what kind of dream it is, I always become conscious at some point in the dream that they are not alive anymore. And it kind of breaks my heart every time. I’m glad for these little moments where their voices and faces are so vivid. But I hate the experiencing the loss over and over again.
The dream on Sunday morning was a mixture of both. The first part of the dream took place at my grandparents’ house. I was there with my mom and some of her family and we were all busy in the house and yard. I was in the garden picking flowers from Grandpa’s garden, enjoying all of the sights and smells of grandpa’s green thumb. I was standing by the sweet peas — I could see them in so much detail. (And as I write this I’m starting to get tears in my eyes, knowing there will be no more sweet peas climbing up the side of their garage.) Grandpa was over at my mom’s bookstore all by himself. I was talking to him on the phone trying to figure out how we were going to get him home. I knew he was well enough to be there on his own, but he was getting a little worried. He wanted to talk to my mom, but I told him I would pick him up. I got in the car and drove off and immediately the second part of the dream happened.
Madeline and I were putting on a concert somewhere. Grandpa was really sick, like in the last week of his life, but wanted so badly to come to our concert. I remember being on the stage and looking up and seeing my mom and her brothers walk in with Grandpa behind them (followed by Bill Gaither). The hall was full so they had to sit in the first balcony. I remember being sad that Grandpa was at the far end because that meant he would have a harder time seeing. And sure enough, I could see him leaning forward, straining to see the stage, wanting to see us so badly, but he couldn’t very well.
(Grandpa in his last days, would sit up with the family, would talk and interact and tell stories, but in between would sit with his eyes closed, resting. His need to rest like that increased as the days went on, but he was always cheerful and talkative when he was spoken to.) At one point during our performance, I remember seeing Grandpa leaning forward, with his head down resting. He was so tired and even during my performance on stage my heart just hurt so much seeing him like that, knowing that it meant he was so weak and was slowly leaving us.
At this point, Bill Gaither, who was sitting in the row in front of him, suddenly and forcefully pushed Grandpa back so that he was sitting up again — like he thought Grandpa was being “rude” or something for sitting the way he was. I was so horrified and upset to see Grandpa, so sick, being pushed back like that.
I was livid and had to get “Bill” back for this. Of course now the dream changed so that it was no longer Bill who had pushed Grandpa, but some young singer from one of the Gaither videos. My concert then turned into a Gaither video recording session and this young guy was doing a solo. You know how you try to run in dreams, but you can’t move? That’s what happened to me next. I was trying so hard to write something on a piece of paper. First my hand writing was all funny. Then the paper I had already had writing on it. Finally I wrote the sentence on the paper, but it was too small. So I folded the paper and wrote it a little bigger. Then I shoved the paper between the young singer and the camera recording him (though of course it took forever for the camera to finally pan back to him). On the paper I had written this: “I push the elderly.” And in my mind, I thought, “There! That’ll teach you!”
But still, when I woke up those images of seeing Grandpa so weak. Trying so hard to stay connected to us. Needing to rest. And just being pushed back so mercilessly. They made me so very sad. Sure, that line I wrote on the piece of paper is completely funny and makes no sense. But maybe it just shows my powerlessness in the whole situation.
I’m really hesitating on publishing this post. Partially because I’m sure you won’t be get that horrible feeling I have from just reading it. And partially because there was something so beautiful and sacred about Grandpa in his last days and I would never want that to be devalued or mocked. But I know the dream in no way does that. And I just ask that if you do comment on this, that you take into account my quite emotional state over this dream and the fact that my mom and her brothers frequent my blog. And I hope they know that I shared this simply because the dream moved me so much. All day as I’ve been reminded of it, it puts a lump in my throat. And it just reminds me again of how beautiful and precious life is, even (and possibly more so) in its weakest and most fragile state.