This is going to be a very long post, but these two dream experiences may yet make you a believer, if you are not already there.
In mid-February, I had a dream that started out really well but then really bugged me. It had been a long time since Mark had “shown up” but the dream ended in frustration.
In my dream, I was standing in the street as my MIL drove up in her Toyota Camry. Wait – what??! She’s not supposed to be driving! (My subconscious conveniently forgot we sold the car many months ago) She emerged from the car with some shopping bags – looking a trifle smug, as I recall – and said she’d been doing her “errands” (that was usually code for “went for a smoke in the CVS parking lot, but she had a bunch of bags on her arms. Yikes.). All I knew was that I needed to take the car and depart ASAP so she couldn’t drive it anymore.
I hopped in and took off. I had a long list of things I needed to accomplish – most of them, if not all, related to my real-life list of things we do re: her ongoing care (go buy her muffins, get her laundry, wash her laundry, delivery her laundry, check her apartment, get her mail). I drove to my first stop – a large building with a circular drive in front – and pulled up in front, leaving the car running. As I dashed toward the building, I wondered if I’d put the car in Park, but then shrugged; too much of a hurry to worry about that!
And, of course, the car started rolling forward.
I watched in horror as the car proceeded to roll down a street lined along the right side with parked cars, waiting for the damage and mayhem. And yet the car….went straight?! As it got to an intersection, it neatly turned left.
It was then I noticed a shadowy figure behind the wheel: someone was driving.
The car went around the block and pulled back up in the front of me as I stood in the circular drive. The back right passenger (? apparently he was driving from the back seat; or maybe he thought his celebrity-in-a-limo-inspired appearance would be more impressive) door flew open and out popped Mark, very pleased with himself and happy. A joyous hug, my usual exclamations of “I can’t believe you’re here! I’m so happy to see you!”
I steered him into the building, which I now recognized as a school. My friend Nancy, who is a teacher at the HS where my kids went, was standing in the lobby; she loves Mark, having known him since he was very small. Conscious of my long list, I passed Mark off to Nancy, the way we moms often do with our kids, saying “You all visit for a few minutes! I’ll be right back.” Off they went.
I raced to the elevator and jumped on as soon as the doors slid open. Quick, quick. I need to get this stuff done so I can spend time with Mark. Every time I went to press the button to take me where I needed to go, the elevator would get called to another floor, or the button wouldn’t depress. I was stuck on the elevator as time passed by relentlessly. I felt so horrible. How could I have done this? I woke up terribly frustrated.
A few days later, we went out to dinner with Nancy and her husband. I don’t remember how it came up, but we were in the Uber on the way to the restaurant and Nancy, who has a lot on her mind these days, some deep concern for a loved one, said she’d recently had a dream about Mark. I am ALWAYS eager for any glimpses of Mark, and so I pressed her for details. “What happened? What did you talk about?” Nancy said, “You know, I don’t recall exactly. I just felt so happy to see him; we were just hanging out and chatting, and it was so good to do that, to just talk to Mark.” We were both a little weepy.
Suddenly my brain clicked on: “What day was this, Nancy?”
Her dream was the same night as my dream. I said, “Don’t you get the feeling he’s telling you everything is going to be OK?” and she agreed. More tears.
And a few weeks later, the situation with her loved one took a significant turn for the better. It’s still far from perfect, but a little better.
Because I have Spiritual Amnesia (or maybe Spiritual ADD…stuff just will not STICK in my brain), that joy kind of dissipated in the face of everyday life and my inescapable sense of loss. Last week, I was sitting in my basement sanctuary, feeling sad and very overwhelmed: not knowing what I’m supposed to be doing these days (if anything different — I have plenty of responsibilities, but strain to feel joy). The grief does come in waves, and that day it was compounded by intense feelings of confusion and frustration: I felt like I was in a very small space and constantly running into encroaching walls of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” (all of which boiled down to “you’re doing all the wrong things, you have all the wrong priorities”). I just felt really really lost, and I wrote this, in my journal:
Jesus/God: do you love me?
(which also means “do you see me?
Really know what’s going on with me?”)
Because isn’t that really the bottom line question? When life doesn’t make sense, when we feel burdened and barely able to function, when really awful things happen or are happening, don’t we wonder where God is, and how all this could happen if He really loves us?
A few moments later, my phone buzzed with a text message from my friend, Maryann. This is exactly what she wrote:
Mark was in a happy but strange dream I had last night. He was super excited and bubbly. We were sitting around your dining room table and he was talking about his shirt that we were all admiring. It was pale sunshine colored with these brocaded/embroidered blue and green suspenders with beautiful leather accents, very artsy and the colors of a peacock. He said it was the best shirt for traveling. Your table had a pile of these packaged in cellophane. I think he handed one to Craig [Maryann’s husband].
The next part of the dream was at a calm dock at sunrise. Mark was loading up provisions into this old-school sailboat, with you and family. You were going on a 14-day trip. Everyone was in shorts and T’s. It was still and balmy. Not sure the destination, but somebody said “this’ll be good, because we are going north first.” Everyone was so excited.
Maryann reads this blog, and so she probably knew I am planning a summer trip to California for us 3, to celebrate Sarah’s graduation. But there was no way for her to know it’s a 14 day trip, and that we are going north first…flying into Portland, OR and working our way south into balmy, warm California.
We were both blown away by this mini-miracle, and I am pretty excited: not only is Mark “paying” for the trip, he’s coming along too!
Maryann has since texted that she remains amazed by “how absolutely vivid this dream was, and how even though his message was clearly for you, the feeling of love was so profound it felt like some poured over on me and I woke up feeling lit up from within. This sensation lasted several hours. I can’t explain it any other way…I felt like it was a Hey, Wake Up to Your Life sort of call-out.” (Thank you, Maryann, for letting me share this story)
I miss Mark….I miss him every single second. Everything within me vibrates with the intensity of my longing for that day when I get to see him again, face to face, when our family will be complete again. These dreams and other inexplicable experiences soften the time of waiting, at least for a bit, and bring me deep joy.
Thank you, God, for delivering – through my dear friend, Maryann, who still cries over the loss of Mark – that which brings me the most comfort and consolation. You do love me, you do love US, and ultimately that’s all that matters.
The picture above was drawn by Emily Oliver. It’s one of several in what I call her “Angel Mark” series.