Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sweet Dreams, Mike

Everyone, they say, handles grief in his/her own way. After my cousin Mike’s death (see previous post), I cried for 3 days, and in the evening of the last day, I had no more tears. The crying stopped, the hysterical outbursts were gone, and I was just immobile with a powerful, heavy, numbing, overwhelming sadness. My mind certainly understood that life in its fullness would resume at some point, but to my heart, it seemed a distant and empty promise.

Then came the dream.

I learn a lot from my dreams. No matter how bizarre and uninterpretable they seem, I usually make at least a minimal effort to squeeze meaning from them. This dream, however, was self evident from the time I awoke in the morning.

I had dreamed that I was sitting in the house of the Wilsons, lifelong friends from my home church in Memphis, friends whom we fortunately were able to visit while we were down there in August. A child was beside me. We were looking at a plate glass window, the kind you see in department stores to display items. The only things in the window were many packages of M&Ms, which were floating here and there as if they were in water. The child beside me was unhappy. “All you can see are the backs of the packages,” he said sadly. “I want to see the front of the packages, the side where the colors are.” As I looked back at the window, I could see what the child meant. All the M&M packages were facing away from us, and all we could see was the brown side. No brightly colored candies were pictured there. The child then asked, “Can you fix them so we can see the pretty colored side?”

I said I would try. I took my index finger and touched the glass, and as I slid my finger around, as if by magic, each package followed my finger movements, and I was surprised to find that I could twist and maneuver them around until they all changed positions, until at last, the front of the packages with their brightly colored M&Ms were facing us.

That was the dream, and it was the turning point in my seemingly endless grief, for its meaning was clear to me. I had been in the Wilsons’ house because years ago they too had lost a son, who died in an accident when he was in his 20s. In the dream, I learned from the spirit child that I had been looking at the brown side - the loss, the pain, the sadness - and not only was it time to turn my attitude over to the color, the life, the warm memories of my dear cousin, but that I had the power to do it!

From that point on, I received the peace that had evaded me up until the dream. As my aunt said to me, “I have had my bad days, and I am sure I will have bad days in the future, but right now, I’m OK.” God is touching us, Mike is touching us, and we are touching each other with comfort.

The most intriguing thing about the whole thing was this: I was relating the details of the dream to my sister, and she murmured, “M&Ms. Mike McDonald.”

God and our brains both work in mysterious ways. Sometimes the message gets interpreted at exactly the right time. I hope now as the days turn into weeks and months and years, that we will gradually begin to remember Mike - the one who brought so much love and laughter to our lives - more with smiles than with tears. May it be so.

1 comment:

Joy said...

I watched some of the old home movies last night, and there was one scene when Mike was about 8 years old--he just looked up at the camera, tilted his head, and gave the most adorable smile. It made me feel much better.