Written on 04-24-2020
In the normal order of things, time moves like a comet passing through the atmosphere at an unimaginable speed as we follow along, caught in the slipstream. But now, it seems as if time has become erratic, and the slipstream is frayed, leaving us to float mysteriously in a state of suspense.
I had another strange dream last night. But before that, something unusual happened just before I went to bed. I was by the window, trying to open it to let air in to relieve the heat, and placing a blackout cloth to shut out the light. As I knelt by the low window to pull the cloth across the curtain rod, I heard Jim, my deceased husband, speak to me. I don’t know what he said; it was just his reassuring voice, complimenting me on getting a job done. It was the timbre and the sense of his close presence that was unmistakable. It didn’t surprise me at all. I simply responded, “Yeah.” Before remembering, in astonishment, that he’s dead. He couldn’t have been there. But there he was. It was an awesome moment of strange grace, briefly, before I laughed at myself for being superstitious. And yet, I remained kneeling, paralyzed by hope. I wasn’t quite prepared to stand up and move away from the window and the evening light seeping in past the edges of the black cloth. I knelt and thought of Jim and allowed myself to imagine he was really there. Why not? I asked myself. Don’t be stupid, I responded. Why not? Stupid. Why not? Stupid. I sighed and stood up and walked away, right past the table under which Jim’s ashes were at rest. I shuddered as I passed them. Was it his spirit tapping on my shoulder? Silliness, I thought, as I turned down the sheets and climbed into bed alone.
But I was about to speak of my strange dream. I was in a city, on my way to a restaurant for brunch, passing through crowds, feeling happy though alone. As I walked through a crosswalk, I noticed a toddler running ahead of me, all by herself, on the crosswalk. I could see no responsible adult paying attention to her, so I swept her up in my arms and carried her to the sidewalk and looked around for a parent or guardian. Nobody. She wasn’t upset and seemed to take me in stride. I spent a few minutes trying to find a responsible adult, without success. Suddenly, I was the responsible adult and this was my child for the moment. I went into an automotive store—a tire shop. I explained to the guy behind the counter what had happened and asked to use the phone. He agreed. Then, oddly, I called my mother rather than the police. I wanted her to come and help me care for this little girl. In a few minutes, she was there. She took the child in her arms to go for a walk and stepped out into the street. Immediately she was standing in a torrent of chest-high water. A river of water was flooding the street. She wasn’t upset. She and the toddler were having fun, striding through the water, although they had to avoid dangerous birds who were swimming past them. Nobody else was upset either. A whole crowd was frolicking in the flood. I was behind them, trying to catch up and thinking, “This is very unusual.” The toddler was having a wonderful time, giggling and shouting. She was, I thought, remarkably beautiful and well behaved.
All of this was very convincing and yet I had the sense that it couldn’t really be happening. I thought, “This is like a dream.” And then, I suddenly realized, this IS a dream. My mother’s dead! There’s no toddler, there’s no torrent of water, I’m asleep in my bed.
And then I woke up, thinking, “This is not normal. This is not normal at all.”
Then I went back to sleep, imagining Jim at my side. Strange times, strange graces, strange dreams. Strange suspense. Time is unraveling and when the cords that bind us to our accustomed reality have separated entirely, where will we be? Heaven? Hell? Purgatory?
What does it all mean? What does it all mean?