As far as phone calls go I’m always leery of the ones that arrive late in the
night; in my life they always seem to be a harbinger of bad news. This call was
no different and when I heard my mother in-law Charlotte’s voice, I knew that
bad tidings were arriving once again, as she broke the news to me that Sandy; a
close member of the family had just died.
There wasn’t much else that she could say; the news wasn’t unexpected since
he had been taken to Hospice just that morning. But I also knew from experience
that you can never adequately prepare yourself for the emotions that come during
a loved one’s passing. As I listened to the grief etched in her voice, I closed
my eyes and brought an image of Sandy into my mind and mentally I wished his
spirit well wherever it may have gone on its next journey. He had fought a hard
fight against cancer, but in the end his body had simply given out.
As the family gathered at my mother in-laws house the next morning, I sat in
the kitchen sipping my coffee while staring at a picture of him perched on a
living room shelf. Since he had been a companion to Charlotte for close to
twenty years, I had over a decade of memories to look back on. To our family and
friends, Sandy had been known for his love of playing cards. Often I would
arrive at her house to find him on the front porch or at the kitchen table
dealing out the cards for another Poker game, as he and his friends taunted each
other about their card skills with an Italian dialect few could understand.
But one memory stood out in my mind and it was the memory of a dream he had
shared with us a few months before his death. It was a dream that came at a time
when his body was weak, suffering the effects left by the radiation treatments,
which caused him to spend most of his days sleeping.
In his dream, Sandy finds himself healthy and free of the pain that had
manifested itself in his waking life, as he sits at a table playing cards. All
his friends are there with smiles and laughter, celebrating the joy that can
only be found in long friendships. In this card game, Sandy is king. Every hand
is a winning hand and no one can come close to beating the cards he holds before
him. As the dream ends Sandy is left with a clear memory of that card game. It
made such an impression on him that he mentioned it to Charlotte the next
morning. At this point I knew that his dream had been a healing dream, a message
to both him and his family that all would be well after he passed. However, I
also felt that it was a dream that needed to be told again now, to leave an
image of Sandy in our hearts that we could hold on to as we dealt with our grief
over his passing.
Later that morning we made arrangements at a local funeral home for Sandy’s
burial. Since we would be holding a memorial service for him, I decided to honor
his dream of the card game by using it as a sort of eulogy, which I could read
out loud during the service. I figured this would give friends and family a fond
memory to remember him by.
After we had got home, Charlotte asked me to take Sandy’s clothes over to the
funeral home. As she handed them to me, she looked around the room concerned she
might have forgotten something, which gave me a sudden insight. I asked her to
give me a deck of his cards, the ones he used during his card games. As she
handed them to me, I could see her eyes fill up with tears, in those cards was a
lifetime of memories for her. Gently, I told her that we were going to send
Sandy off right; that we were going to honor his dream of the card game by
putting a deck of cards in his shirt pocket, the same way he had always carried
them around when he was alive. For me, it was my way of honoring his memory and
A few days later, the priest of the church where the service was to be held,
rejected my idea of my giving a eulogy during his memorial service due to my not
being a member of the church. My initial reaction was one of anger. I’m a real
stickler for honoring dreams but in this case I realized my frustration with the
church was not going to get me anywhere. Instead, on the day of his service, one
of my sister-in laws, Shelby gave a short but very moving eulogy. I realized
this was her way of honoring his memory and saying goodbye. Life goes like that
sometimes, what you think should happen doesn’t but what needs to happen does.
Our dreams also work like that; they cross the bridge between the living and
the departed and in doing so often leave us with a way of saying goodbye that we
never expected. But that bridge works both ways, in that it allows the departed
to say their goodbyes to us as well. In the ensuing months it was apparent thru
our dreams, that Sandy was not going leave without saying his goodbyes also.
A few weeks after his memorial service, I received another phone call from
Charlotte. I had been in a hurry to be on time for an appointment; however, as
soon as I heard her words saying to me that I was the only person she could talk
to, I stopped dead in my tracks. Something in the tone in her voice told me that
I needed to listen very carefully to the dream she was about to tell me.
Originally a bit skeptical about dream work, she now felt that no one else would
believe her experience from that morning.
She had awoken a bit earlier than her alarm was set for, and as she lay in
bed in that twilight zone between sleep and being fully awake, she heard a most
melodic sound, as if someone was playing a musical instrument she had never
heard before. Looking over in the direction of the sound, she realized it was a
row of metal hangers that were hung on a small clothes rack across the room.
They were swaying as if moved by a gentle breeze and something in the movement
and sound immediately brought an image of Sandy to her mind. Now fully awake,
she spoke out loud; " You old son of a gun, you wanted me to know that you were
ok, didn’t you". Since there had not been an open window in her room or anything
else to explain the hanger’s movement, in her heart she knew this experience had
been his way of letting her to know he was doing well.
In the spring after Sandy’s interment, my wife had a dream where she and
Sandy were dancing together alone in the cafeteria of the church school she had
attended as a child. Since my wife always enjoyed dancing with Sandy at social
occasions, I told her that if it were my dream I would wonder if her dream was
his way of having one last dance together. A way of saying good-bye to her, with
a memory of a dance never forgotten.
Just before Sandy’s death we had received news that my other sister in law
Kelly, was going to have a baby. The timing of this news in the context of
Sandy’s illness was of great comfort to our family. Where there once had only
been the potential for an ending, there was now the news of a beginning, for us
the cycles of life would run full circle and it was just before Kelly gave
birth, that one last goodbye would be said. It arrived in a dream that Kelly had
during the time she and her husband were thinking of names for the baby. In her
dream Kelly finds herself at work as she hears that the TV show “Crossing Over”
with spiritual medium John Edwards is going to be filming a show there. Kelly
then finds herself in an empty auditorium. She sees John Edwards walk up on the
stage and he tells her he is communicating with Sandy. When she asks him what
Sandy is saying, he tells her that Sandy says to name the baby after him.
Given Sandy’s easygoing relationship with Kelly when he had been alive, it
didn’t surprise me that he had one last moment of fun with her. A joke shared
between friends, and a way of saying goodbye, in the land of dreams where those
who have departed will always be close.
Ed Bonapartian is the co-host of a bi-monthly Dream Circle in the Albany, NY
area. As a writer who delights in sharing dream awareness, he and his co-hosts
have held dream circles at a local therapy group, bookstore, and college as
well. For further information on upcoming circles he can be contacted at email@example.com
or see the website at www.dreamweavingcircle.com
Copyright © by Edward Bonapartian