Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven and Other Miracles
More Than a Dream, January, 2019
More Than a Dream
Mama was dying in an Austin nursing home. For several days, she floated in and out of a coma and when she was awake, her dementia obscured reality. Then one day it was as though she awoke from a nightmare. Fear paled her delicate face, she looked at my sister and I and asked, “Where have I been? I don’t remember the last few days or weeks or months.”
We explained that she had advanced dementia. Strangely, she wasn’t in the throes of dementia at that moment. She was as clear-headed as she was in her younger days. My sister and I were astonished and wondered how was this possible. For the next day and a half, we had our mother back, the mother we knew before dementia consumed her brain. It was a gift we couldn’t explain, one we were thankful for as her life waned. Then just as abruptly dementia took hold, robbing us of her temporary lucidity.
That night I couldn’t leave her bedside to stay at my sister’s home. I slept in a chair at her side, holding her hand. Suddenly, she blurted out, “No! I am not going anywhere with you. I’m not ready!” I bolted up in my chair. “Who are you talking to, Mama?”
“Shush, I’m not talking to you,” she waved me off with her hand.
“Who are you talking to?” I asked again.
She gestured a circle around the bed, “those people.” I saw no one. My mother and I were alone in her nursing home room. She soon fell asleep as did I.
Later in the night I woke again, this time hearing a young girl’s voice coming from my mother. She was looking straight ahead, a sweet, childish smile crossing her lips, a child-like sparkle in her eyes.
“May I see my father now?” she asked in the high-pitched voice of a young child. I watched, mesmerized. She got some kind of response, one I couldn’t hear. “When may I see him?” she pressed further. Mama must not have liked the second response either because a look of sadness filled her eyes as she said, “okay.” She fell back into a stupor a few minutes later. I wondered who she was talking to. Was someone from the other side telling her that it was her time to cross over and was she trying to drive a bargain that she would cooperate if she could see her beloved father who died before I was born? I never had the chance to find out. Once again, she fell into a coma, never returning to consciousness.
Mama died a day after I left her bedside. I’d been there for days, before and after her miraculous return to lucidity, wondering if in her coma she knew that I was with her. The nurses said she was hanging on because she did know I was still there and she didn’t want to leave me. They had seen it many times before and encouraged me to go home and allow her to die. I was torn, how could I leave her in her final days, hours and moments? The nurses assured me that in her coma she would pass soon after I went home. Reluctantly, I left. My sister was with her and I knew Mama would not die alone, but it still grieved me that I wasn’t there when she passed.
A few days after her funeral I sat on my couch feeling miserable and wishing that I could hear from her one last time. I decided that I would ask her to contact me. I spoke out loud to Mama, telling her that I regretted we didn’t get one last goodbye and imploring her to send me a sign that she had arrived safely on the other side. “Please,” I told her, “don’t send a rainbow or a butterfly because that won’t catch my attention. Send a sign that will knock me on the head, something that will scream at me that it’s you.”
I went about my day, largely forgetting my plea. It was like buying a lottery ticket. Sure, I buy them occasionally, however I never actually think that I’ll win. When I asked Mama for a sign, that’s all it was – a request. I didn’t think anything would come of it.
That night I dreamed that I was sitting at a desk, writing a note. Something called me away. When I returned I found a note under my own writing, written in my mother’s distinctive hand. I was dreaming, but I clearly felt my heart missing a beat.
“Honey, I heard you. I arrived safely and I’m fine. I love you, Mama.”
As comforted as I was by her words, it was what I read below that caused me to bolt upright in bed gasping for breath and awakening my husband.
“What is it?” he asked, a little alarmed.
I told him about calling out to Mama earlier in the day and asking her to contact me. When I told him about Mama’s note, his eyes widened. Then I relayed about what I read after. It was a note written by my father. I had not seen my father’s handwriting since he died 30 years before, but I knew it was his. Tears seeped out of the corners of my eyes as I told my husband what the note said.
“Jeffree, your mother is with me now and we are watching over you. Love, Daddy.”
My husband asked why my father’s note alarmed me so much.
“At first,” I told him, “I thought that maybe because I wanted so badly to hear from Mama that I’d imagined she contacted me in the dream. But when I saw Daddy’s note, in handwriting that I knew was his, I realized it was all quite real. They really did contact me. And they did it in a way that I could not mistake for something else.”
It was no accident that they chose to write to me in a dream. Writing has always been a big part of my life. That was the knock on the head that I needed to be convinced it was them. They knew that was the perfect way to get through to me. Even though I’d hoped to receive another dream note which never happened, I am at peace because I know that I received something extraordinary, something most people don’t – certainty that my parents are watching over me and that I will see them again one day.