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Dream a Little Dream

It has been a year, more than a year now, since my dad died. The week before the anniversary of his death, I started praying for a dream. To see him, to talk to him, to hug him. A friend of mine posted on facebook that she had dreamt about her dad, who recently passed. I was simutaneously thrilled for her and envious. I wanted a dream.

After each of my brothers and my dear friend died, within a short time, I dreamed about them. The dreams were so real and so clear. They were comforting visits. They answered questions. They told me they were okay and at peace. They hugged me. So of course, I wanted a dream about my dad. I wanted to hug him again. To sit on his lap and tell him about life in the year since he left. He knows, I'm sure. But I wanted to tell him myself.

The anniversary of his death came and went with no dream. Unstoppable tears, binge-eating, curling into the fetal position and shutting out the world, but no dreams. Yesterday, we watched the movie Hugo. Well, Brad and Peyton watched the movie, and Lily and I fell asleep. If you haven't watched the movie, you really should. It's breathtakingly beautiful, both aesthetically and thematically. The whole movie looks like an Instagram photo.

Anyway, today, I finished watching it--Lily fell asleep again--and I realized something. While I was waiting for a dream, I have dismissed many other signs from my dad. Right after he died, whenever we found a coin, I would tell the kids that they were from Papa. I, however, shrugged it off. Whenever we saw a rainbow, I would tell Lily that Papa sent it to us. Again, I shrugged it off. Once at Christmas time, I missed him so much, that I drove down the road sobbing and begging for him to send me some kind of sign that everything would be okay. I turned on the radio to hear Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Canon--my absolute favorite Christmas song. At the time, I felt relieved and comforted, but that was short-lived. It wasn't a dream. The tomatoes lasted me for a good while, but summer ended, and they died too.

Today, on my way to church, I drove past the largest hawk I have ever seen. That is significant because all my life, my dad told me that when he saw a hawk, he believed it was his own dad saying hello from beyond. I never met his dad, so I didn't have much emotional attachment to hawks, only that I always noticed them, and pointed them out to my dad. Today, when I drove past that hawk, I almost scoffed thinking, "Great. Hello, Grandpa Swan. Where the hell's your son?" But I looked at him, and it seemed as if he turned his head and watched us pass. Then, on the way back, on the other side of the road, the same giant hawk stared at us as we passed.

Could it be? Could that be my dad? He admired his own father so much, it would make sense that he would take the same form, if he could. And I'm sure he knows that I would remember his telling me about the hawks. So, it wasn't a dream. It wasn't the sign I was looking for, but perhaps it was a sign. And I guess for today, that can be enough.


  1. Makes me think so many things...

    I have a friend, Laura, whose affection for birds and whose passion for their protection and well-being is unsurpassed. She wrote a blog a while back about birds and people, and while she has a slightly different take on their role as messengers, I thought you might like this quote:

    "Terry Tempest Williams wrote in her lyrical book, Refuge:

    I pray to the birds. I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day—the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen." (Laura's Birding Blog)

    You gave me a reason to step back, to suggest that my wandering thoughts settle down, to wonder if I am missing anything. As much as you want the dream, if you had been laser-point focused on it, you wouldn't have been open to the hawk. And of course it could have been your dad --- who could possibly declare otherwise? I've never seen a hawk up close like that, so that would have been pretty exciting in its own right, but if it brought alive in my heart love and good memories --- all the more special.

    I keep getting caught in a sort of twixt and between. Believing in heaven gives life on earth a more desirable frame --- an afterlife where I matter, rather than just being one more in the long line of millions of women who have ground the grain so that their family could eat. But that thought immediately leads to questions about just what kind of afterlife we're talking about, how one makes sure one is in line for a pleasant experience, and what one is supposed to do about people who don't see things the way you do. I've been there, and the divisiveness in it was really kind of tiring. I was musing about these things out loud, and asked Barry what he thought. I kind of like his idea --- that we are transformed into energy, and go some place else in the Universe. It is so vast that we have yet to see the edges of it, so who's to say?

    Did your Dad ever say what is what about hawks that connected to his dad?

    Barry started to rent Hugo the other night, but I wasn't sure I wanted to watch it. I'll take your movie recommendation.

    Big loves,

    1. Oh, honey, it's a great movie. You will love it. No, he never said what about the hawks made him think it was his dad. My dad was a storyteller in the Big Fish sense. Did you see that movie? So many stories, most embellished, but most with a kernel of truth. He would always point things out in our travels, "There's a deer. There's a groundhog. Oh, did you see that possum? There's my dad." He had a weird bird connection. Always fed the birds. Always chased the cats and squirrels away so the birds could eat. And in the sunset of his life, he'd just sit on the back porch and watch the birds.

  2. He told me it was a crow with a limp. No, I am NOT making that up. So...y'know. It's still a bird.

    1. Really? He never told me that. I miss you!


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