a midwinter's night dream

I brush my daughter’ hair off her forehead. We reflect on our day, say some prayers of gratitude to the universe, ask to stay in our bed all night, pray for good dreams. "Mama, I prayed to have a dream of rainbow and unicorns last night, but I dreamed of poopy."

I search her face for cheekiness, but there is none. She is quite earnest. She really did dream of poo. She says she wants to dream of special places, and other people, maybe even people who died.

"Dreams thin the walls between the living and the dead, my love, and even though you cannot pray for a dream and expect it every time, you can ask someone who died to visit you in a dream."

"Like Lucy?"

"Yes, like Lucy."

"I had a dream of Lucy before."

"Did you?"

"Yes, I was playing in the kitchen, and under the stepstool I found twelve ladybugs. The lady bugs came together and formed a girl. She looked just like you with black hair and brown eyes and brown skin. She said to me, 'I won't go back to where I was. Not ever again. I will stay here forever and ever. I can sleep with you if you are scared.'"

"Wow, Beezus, that is amazing. What was she wearing?"

"A red dress with white spots, and she had two little pony tails."

"Like a lady bug."

"I guess so. She was very happy skipping around. She told me and Thomas to get Rodys, and we bounced all around the house while you did dishes."

"I remember that day, Beatrice, because I saw you and your brother bouncing and imagined Lulu bouncing with you too."

"She was there."

"You can play with your sister in your dream. That's amazing. I wish I could play with her in my dreams."

"Just pray for ladybugs, Mama."


I dreamt of Lucia only once. It was before her death. It was the only time I held her alive, and she was just barely alive. Her purple eyes blinked open and I smiled at her. Now, I believe it more a premonition of her death, then a premonition of her life. But naiveté and stupid arrogance couldn’t grasp the idea that the baby in my belly could die. In these four years, I have never felt jealousy of other pregnancies, or living children, or the earth people who never grieve their poor dead babies, but I am jealous of those who dream of their dead as though they live. Even my daughter, (I must whisper now, because I am ashamed of myself) I am jealous that she gets to dream of my baby, even as I want that for her. For everyone. I just want it for me too. A clear portal to our babies that we can access whenever we want.


photo by Douglas Brown.

All my prayers and pleadings have not yielded one dream of her. I carry dreaming crystals to bed, place them on my third eye. I drink teas of mugwort and lavender, write my wishes and put them in the pillow, but still nothing. Though I have not dreamt of Lucy since she died, I have winter solstice. I wake in the middle of the longest night, and look at the sky—a dream-like ritual of bitter cold and release. I watch for ravens and northern lights, cover myself in snow and a woolen cocoon that reminds me of the womb that killed her. I keep releasing the anger and guilt around her death, though I will never really release her. All of this, I think, is like inducing a dream of my dead daughter. Perhaps it is a lucid mid-winter's dream of fire and night and blurry meditations, calling to the ravens to bring her soul to me. It transcends solstice and continues through January, February, March...I commune with Winter herself. Winter belongs to my girl, even if she never comes to that particular cocktail party.

It may be presumptuous to take a whole season for my daughter. Though selfishly, I want more. I want the year. Or at least, just the night. I want one dream with my beautiful dead baby of the snow. I deserve it, or maybe not, but I want something more. Not this vast tundra of nothingness, dreams of wastelands, and empty arms, and ravens who tear at the skin of grief, but never carry my daughter with them.


Have you had dreams of your child or children since their death? Before their death? What was the dream? Was it comforting or disconcerting? Have your children, or other people, dreamt of your baby or babies? How did you explain it to them? How did you feel about it?