Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jesus dreams

I took the day off from work yesterday to be the designated driver for my husband after a medical procedure he had done.  When we got back home he slept off the remains of his sedation, and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon sorting paperwork to get ready for tax returns.  After a few hours of mind numbing monotony I had to lie down and rest my bleary eyes.

Afternoon naps can be a source of the most interesting dreams.  The one yesterday was no exception.  I don't remember the details, but there was a lot of beautiful water.  I love dreams with beautiful water.  And Jesus was there.  I love it when Jesus is there.

In this dream Jesus was famous over in Israel, but he wasn't very well known over here yet.  I knew who he was, but he was mostly anonymous.  There was another man in my dream who was the epitome of evil.  Again, I don't remember the details, but I know he was murderous.  I knew to stay clear of him, but Jesus went right up to him and started talking to him.  I wanted to warn Jesus to watch His back, but He was too quick.  As they conversed I could see the evil man's demeanor soften.   I remember standing there and thinking to myself, "Hey, there's Jesus over there ministering to someone.  I am standing here watching Jesus.  Wow".

Can you imagine what it was like for the apostles to have Jesus walking with them as a friend?  Can you imagine what it was like to watch him in action?  Fantastic.  Maybe my dream was just a little gift, a pick-me-up to brighten the stressful days I've been having.  Maybe.

Whatever it was meant to be I woke up to a cat sleeping on my head.  Back to reality.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Another date, another memory

From my personal collection of hand writing

"20 Years", by The Civil Wars
There's a note underneath your front door
That I wrote twenty years ago
Yellow paper and a faded picture
And a secret in an envelope
There's no reasons, no excuses
There's no secondhand alibis
Just some black ink on some blue lines
And a shadow you won't recognize
In the meantime I'll be waiting
For twenty years, twenty more
I'll be praying for redemption
And your note underneath my door

We all keep up with the birthdates of our friends and relatives, but how many of us keep up with death dates?  I seem to collect them on my calendar; small scribblings like footnotes in a research paper.   We celebrate birthdays with cake and gifts, but what do we do with all of those other dates that are just as significant but not as happily remembered?    

September 16, July 10, April 19, April 20, November 18 and today, February 26, are the dates that stand out most clearly in my memory.  Most times I have trouble remembering the events of a certain day a week ago, but on each of these dates I can remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news that someone had died.

Eighteen years ago on this day my sister, Barbara, lost her fight and left this earth for a new life in heaven.  It was a Sunday and my other sisters and nieces had spent the day at a Mardi Gras parade on the Gulf Coast.  Barbara’s condition had been worsening in the weeks prior, and the parade was meant to be a distraction for her seven-year-old daughter.  I was at home when the call came with word that we should get to the hospital in Birmingham as soon as possible because things were not looking good.  I threw some clothes in a bag and met my sisters at the Middle Child’s house where we were to wait for our ride to Birmingham.

I sat and watched the children as they busily dug into their bags of Mardi Gras treasures showing off the beads and trinkets they had caught that day.  The Pesky One decided to give our mother a call at the hospital before we left the house, and when I heard her rushed “she's gone?” I knew we were too late.  I didn’t have to look up; I just kept looking at the beads.  There was no need to ask for clarification. 

But what was I supposed to do with my seven-year-old Godchild/niece who was so excited about her loot, and oblivious to the fact that her mother had just died?  I held it all in and kept on smiling is what I did.  My heart pounded in my ears, but those purple, gold and green plastic beads were as interesting and precious as amethyst, citrine, and emeralds.  It was her father’s place to tell her after all, but he was four hours away in Birmingham.  Somehow we had to pack it all up, get in a van for a long drive and pretend nothing had happened.  For the sake of the child we had to forget that we needed to express our own grief.  In hindsight, if the truth be told, the child was probably stronger than all of us put together.  

My sister’s condition had been declining for a few weeks, and it was a medical miracle that she lasted as long as she did.  The last time I saw her was in mid-January.  The four of us sisters were together for the last time that day in her hospital room.  She was upbeat and there was every hope at that time of a full recovery.  She could not speak because of her tracheotomy, but she mouthed words and could write crudely.  Barbara was in a particularly spunky mood that day, and if I remember correctly she told the pesky sister that she loved her, or something of that nature.  We all pretended to be shocked and insisted on getting it in writing so we made Barbara write it down.  She would write a note and then laugh and smile as if she we were sharing a secret.  One note led to another, and before it was over I had a piece of paper with a shredded margin I have managed to keep neat and clean for eighteen years.  “Just some black ink on some blue lines” as the song goes.  But it is so much more than that.

As we prepared to leave I bent over to hug her and tell her I loved her and I would see her soon.   She tried to tell me something but I couldn’t understand her.  She became agitated, and repeated it over and over, but still I did not understand.  I know it had something to do with my son; she did love her “Sailboat” as she called him.  I said something to try to make her believe I knew what she said, but I know she knew I did not.  My ears could not hear her whispers, my eyes could not read her lips, but my heart somehow knew it was our last words together.  Maybe, for that reason, I did not want to hear.

One day I will meet her again, and after the euphoria of our reunion has waned I will ask her to tell it to me again, and then I will hear with my ears, and I will see her with new eyes, and I will understand what it was I once misunderstood.  Only then will my heart be satisfied.

“In the meantime I'll be waiting
for twenty years, twenty more”, or more, God willing.