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Monday
Jan212013

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?

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Reader Comments (18)

I have dreamt of Charlotte once since she died. When I was pregnant with her, I dreamt of her twice. In both dreams that I had while pregnant, she was dead. But in the dream that I had after she had died, she was alive. It was a really short dream, and at first I did not realize who she was. Once I realized that the 4-5 month old in my dream was Charlotte, I was absolutely flooded by a feeling of warmth and peace. As soon as I realized she was there, she was gone. it seemed to happen in a flash, but the feeling that it gave me was overwhelmingly beautiful. I have craved more moments like that ever since, and I go to bed each night hoping that she will be there.
January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNikki
Shortly after Nathaniel died, I had a dream where we were in a train station. He showed me rocks - stones that represented me and stones that represented him, and he told me that this is how I can recognize him and find him. We were both about 13 years old, and so in love with each other. I remember feeling so acutely how sweet he was in my heart. We raced to catch the same train, but we were caught by an officer who wanted to check our documents. He didn't have the right documents to catch the train, and I had to go on without him. The disappointment in the dream was not as sharp as the disappointment in real life. In my dream, I could accept that things were just not going to go the way I wanted them to go. I still can't accept that in my waking world, not where Nathaniel's death is concerned.

I love the lady bugs in Beezus' dream. I love that she can have her sister there.
January 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne
Thank you for this inspiration, Angie.

I have dreamed about TR two and 1/2 times in my life.

The first time was when I was 17 years old, and had just started dating the high school sweetheart who became TR's dad. In my dream, I was about 40, and saying goodbye to my 20-year-old son at the end of a pier. He was wearing all white, and I perceived it as a Navy uniform. Now it is 20 years later, and I am about 40. And TR was wearing all white when I said goodbye to him. (And, I don't want to sully this post with bitterness, but the fact is he died after I was refused a cerclage at a Navy hospital.)

The second dream I had was while I was pregnant. I was in a store with a boy who wasn't TR, but I was conscious in the dream of thinking "he is like TR would be." It was Mother's Day and the boy bought me lemon-scented perfume. I do think of these dreams as premonitions that TR would not be with me.

My third dream happened last week, almost 6 months after TR's death. He was about 8 or 9, wearing a soccer uniform. I told him, "I held you every day of your life." I saw he was juuuust about to be a smarty-pants and say his life was only one day long, before he realized that was the joke and laughed at his corny mom.

I love that dream so much. It helps me to believe that, after this life, the fact of our tragic separation will bond us closer together and even - I can barely imagine - give us something to laugh about.
January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKC
Once. Very early on, maybe just a few months later. I was in the ocean, and so was she. Though I couldn't get to her. She was on a table and when I did get to her, she had just socks on, and they were soaked. And I was of course most concerned about this. My tiny baby alone on a table in the ocean with wet socks. Make of that what you will, but it is pretty fucked up. Your last paragraph for me says it all. Our lost winter babes.
I want more. I want something. Anything.
Love to you, Angie. Stunning piece.
xo
January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSally
Oh oh oh. Angie, this is a wonderful piece of writing. I don't think I've had any Iris dreams. Or if I have I don't remember them. But yes, I want them. In the same way I want a psychic to grab my arm in the street. Connection.
January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJess
Would love a dream, am longing for one. I used to wake up thinking he was beside me and needed feeding, that hasn't happened for a long while. All I have now is two dimensional day dreams. I would so love to see life in him

Will wait and hope for as long as it takes, cause when it comes I know it is going to be beautiful and worth every second of the wait.
January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLucy
This floored me. I am in exactly the same boat, not one $%%&#(%_# dream. My theory has always been that I spend so much of my waking time trying to conjure her in my daily, private seances with my imaginary ouija board, searching for her in songs, movies and shadows... even looking at the pictures of her face that we have... just to recreate her. It's frustrating as hell. Also, this: "Just pray for ladybugs." - more than just good advice, that might be a mantra. A philosophy. So beautiful.
January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKenny
Angie, I love this writing and understand your dream jealousy. I would feel the same if anyone else dreamed about my Leo. I dreamed of a baby boy a few months after he died, but I didn't feel it was him. In the dream, someone else was changing his diaper on a counter and when I looked closely at the baby, he had no hands (not true of Leo), and then the person stepped away and he fell to the ground. I ran to catch him and he was okay. Then I was nursing another baby who had hands, and this part was just as I remember nursing to be - a sweet gift.
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLhotse
What a beautiful dream Bea had. I wish I could dream of Sam but I don't. Early on, I had a dream of him and he was a bridge. I can't explain it more, as I don't remember much of it other than he was a bridge. Since then, I have dreams where I am telling people what happened, that he died and it wasn't my fault (I had this the other night). I was explaining that since it was a cord accident, there was nothing I could do. I guess I'm still working through the guilt, all these years later.

Beautiful writing, Angie. Much love to you.
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMonique
I lost my sweet son this September at just 4 days old. He was born at nearly 24 weeks due to severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. I miss him every day.

I've dreamt of him twice. Once when I was pregnant. I was so, SO sick and miserable, but I wanted him so badly (I had miscarried before him and so terrified of it happening again). I worried that when he was born I might not feel a connection, or maybe I would even resent him for making me sick for so long. In my dream, I held him. He was alive, he was beautiful and I loved him with every fiber in my being.

The second time I dreamt about him was about 3 months after he died. It was a normal day andI was sitting around holding him. He was alive, but because of that fact, I wasn't worried about his death. I woke up so angry because I didn't really look at him. I wanted to study him to see how he would have looked as a full size baby. To see his eyes, which never opened in life. In the dream, I didn't have to do those things because he was going to stay with me. It was heartbreaking.
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobin
Angie thank you for your beautiful words and for your beautiful Bea:) You inspire me xoxo
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristine
I had a dream about Balthazar about four months after he died. In the dream he was dead and I knew he was dead, but the nurses wanted to show me what he would have looked like alive. They warmed up his skin with hair dryers until it was pink, and they opened his eyes. Then for a moment he WAS alive and he smiled and laughed. He was an absolutely beautiful baby; he looked like his brother at four months, but with dark hair.

I thought it was interesting that my subconscious mind had age-progressed him, like he was a kid on a milk carton. I suppose it makes sense; he is my missing child.
January 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
I have dreamed about all of my pregnancies. I three miscarriages before Jack was born (and died), and I loved playing with them (as small children) in a dream after they were lost.

I dreamed about Jack while I was pregnant with him. He was very sick in the dream, being carried past me in a hospital by a nurse. He did not look the same when he was born, but he was fatally sick. I also dreamed about him recently, many months after losing him. He was about 18 months old in the dream and I was cuddling him and bouncing him in my lap. I was so happy in that dream. Of course, he was still dead when I woke up.
January 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJM
I dreamt of my babies one time. The night before my 16 week appointment, I had a dream that showed me that one of my twins was definitely a boy. I could only see that one of the two was a boy. I guess now, I only needed to see one of them because they were identical and shared the exact same DNA. That's the only time. I wish I would dream of them to see them "alive" and what they would've looked like.
January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
Oh, Angie. This is so beautiful. Your little Beezus is really quite a girl. I have read each post and they all seem like a jewel of longing and love.

I dreamed of AdiaRose three times, all after she was born. I didn't dare hope for a dream at all. I felt so utterly, utterly alone, so left behind, the emptiness she left felt so huge, I thought maybe she left us without a second thought and went on to other things. Oh, it was painful.

Then I dreamed about her, maybe a week or so after she died? We still had no answers, and the guilt was so terrible. I was sure I had blown it, that I was responsible. I dreamed that we were back in the hospital, in a long narrow room. My husband was beside me, and the doctors and nurses were busy down at the end of the room. I was holding her, and it occurred to me to breath into her mouth. I did and she started breathing. We excitedly told the nurses and the doctor but they just exchanged glances and ignored us. No one would come. I gathered that life, in her body, was not a good thing, not for her. When I woke up I thought about that, I held on to that through the dark, dark guilt. Then I found out it was true.

The second dream I had was really upsetting. I dreamed that her box had been dug up, and her grave disturbed. When I went to the cemetery that day I saw immediately that the footing for her stone had been poured that morning. I found out later that her box is extremely close to the surface- maybe only a foot down or so. I don't think that her soul is there, but I am very, very connected to her spot. It's the closest thing to a church I have ever felt. I mean, the feeling of a sacred place.

The third dream was this past summer, as her first birthday approached. The grief and sadness was intensified by the memories of what we were doing this time last year, we were still hopeful, she was still alive. It had always bothered me that I never got to look into her eyes, she never opened them. And when we got the autopsy report it said her eyelids were still sealed, because of the trisomy 13, so she couldn't have even if she wanted to. It really bothered me. This last dream felt real, like I was awake. I had it in the morning. We were sleeping in the living room because the downstairs was much cooler. My husband and older daughter had actually gotten up and gone into the kitchen, and all of this was in my dream. I dreamed I sat up suddenly and said"Where's the baby?" and I started searching for her in all of the blankets and covers. I found her, stretched out on her back, arms over her head, in a white onesie, sound asleep. I knew we weren't going to get to keep her, that she was very sick, and I felt bad that we had all slept so soundly and that she had never woken up to nurse. I picked her up, an she scrunched her face like she was crying but made no sound. I put her to my breast and I could feel my milk let down, I could feel her nursing. Then she stopped, so I looked down and she was gazing up at me with the most beautiful, fathomless dark eyes, dark but just a little purple, like a newborn's are. I just gazed and gazed into those eyes. Then my husband woke me up. I felt so comforted, I felt like I had received such a gift. It really did help me get through that time.

Since then, I haven't had another. I live in hopes, though.
January 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen
My middle son saw Nina for many years. She went with him when he started school, and sat next to him. She wore a check dress with her hair in pigtails. When she was about 3 he asked me when the Lord was going to potty train her, she was sitll in diapers. Also no jokes or cheeck, just questions. Some days I could ask him what she was doing, but sadly he seemed to have outgrown seeing her.
January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMandie
I wish I could dream of my daughter, although maybe waking up without her would feel so awful that it's almost a blessing I don't dream of her.

I have only had a few dreams that I was abrupting agian, blood everywhere, and a dead baby came out.
January 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterallmypretty
I too long for dreams of my daughter, feelings of her, but she doesn't come. Like you Angie, I am entirely bereft.
I dreamt of her once, my second night at home since her death. We were rocking in the big yellow chair, the same one I rocked Grace in, and I sang "Baby Mine". She looked at me with her Daddy's eyes and smiled. I woke singing that song, but feeling her absence more.
I have felt her presence while awake, though it has been so long now. Once, while cleaning out a closet I found a folder of articles, scripture and quotes that my Mema (my grandmother) had kept to inspire her. I put it in the closet because I couldn't deal with that death, then I forgot it was there. When I opened the folder, I felt my daughter, I knew it to be her. And then she was gone from me.
She has been gone from me since and it has been over a year since that day. I question if I closed myself off to the spirits beyond our physical plane, or if she moved from this place. Or, maybe I can't feel her because I try too hard to do so. I worry that these questions will never be answered on this plane of existence.
I know Tessa goes on, and you know Lucy goes on...perhaps that is all we will ever have. Perhaps we have to accept that as enough. But damn if it doesn't hurt like hell.
February 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoy

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