Burning

I wrote this piece after a dream that I had a few weeks ago. I’m not quite sure what it is other than the movie that played through my sleeping brain. My brother is alive and well and our farmhouse never exprienced a fire of any kind. If anything, what I wrote is simply a metaphor for how I felt when we moved from our beloved farm and lived seperately from one another following the divorce of our parents.

Last night I dreamed of our farmhouse.

The white horse galloped past the fence, drawing my eyes beyond to the orange bloom of rising flames.

I began to move forward and watched fire lick the sky.

It raced through the field behind the house, coming to burn our memories.

In the yellow bedroom, my brother watched from the window.

Then, together, we soaked the house with water from a hose.

Tiny fires ignited at our feet.

We stepped back to watch our lives burn,

Defeated.

He turned and began to walk away.

Moving in opposite directions,

I watched as he was swallowed by the smoke.

We never said goodbye.

For My Love

Happy Valentines Day! I’m re-posting the true story of how my husband and I met. It is simply magical…

I walked down the hallway watching him as he moved ahead of me. He was handsome in his navy suit. Far more well dressed than any of the men in my life…and then he turned to do a goofy dance that completely belied his appearance. Waves of lightness and love washed over me. At that moment I felt myself shift from the nothingness of a completely mundane existence to the realization that I was experiencing unequivocal love. It was palpable and intense and I tried with all of my might to focus on his face. I needed to see it clearly…to memorize it because somehow, I realized that this meeting was brief.

I struggled to stay there with him, but I woke to a snowy morning in February. It was 1997 and I was just four months away from a rather large wedding, but I forgot all of that as I desperately clung to the filmy remnants of my beautiful dream. Tears streamed down my face because I knew I didn’t fully see his face. I didn’t know his name and I’d likely never see him again. I couldn’t imagine living without the intense happiness that I briefly felt in my dream. I had never experienced such joy and letting go of that feeling of lightness to return to my dark place was unbearable. The dream was so unbelievably vivid. Out loud, and to no one in particular I asked, “Where are you?” Knowing that I couldn’t go back into that dream, that our meeting wasn’t real was devastating. I know …this sounds dramatic, but I just don’t have the words to express how intense that dream was, how happy I felt.

Even after telling myself that it was just another dream, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was out there. As I talked myself out of believing in his existence, I came to the realization that those feelings of love and acceptance were so intense that I couldn’t deny them. I’d never had such strong feelings before, and here I was having them for a blurry, handsome man in a dream. At the very least I knew that if I was getting married to Steve, I was marrying the wrong person simply because that intense love wasn’t there. We shared no real connection except that we were really good friends who were attracted to each other.

Three days after the dream I still couldn’t stop thinking of him. I wondered where he was. I walked into the house that Steve and I had just bought and handed the engagement ring back to him. I knew that if nothing else, my “gut” was telling me that marrying Steve was the biggest mistake I could make. I stood in that house looking at him, scared to say goodbye, but not feeling any affinity to this place that was supposed to be ours. I willed myself to love him the way that I loved the man in my dream, but realized now that my love for Steve would never be as intense. But I did love him and I loved him enough to know that leaving would be painful for both of us. So instead of trusting my instincts and believing in the message of my dream, I chose to take the ring back. I listened to people tell me I had cold feet and I kept my dream to myself wondering if perhaps I had finally gone completely crazy.

For 2 years and 9 months I kept my dream to myself but never forgot it. I was married but very newly separated. I vaguely knew David. At work one afternoon, I was out of the office researching documents in his conference room. I was distracted by my recent separation, for the past few nights I had been staying at a hotel and was just beginning to realize that the road ahead of me was about to get very bumpy. David seemed to sense that I was in a bad place.

We left his office and began walking down a deserted hallway. He said something that made me laugh. For the first time in days, I felt completely at ease. I had momentarily forgotten what was happening in my life because there was something about David that made me feel safe. As he moved ahead of me, I noticed for the first time how handsome he was in his navy suit. We were laughing about something, I don’t recall what now…and he began to turn toward me. As I stood laughing and watching him break into a goofy dance, I felt like someone had knocked the breath out of me. I stopped laughing and stood staring at him with eyes wide open. He stopped his dance and with a look of concern, asked me if I was alright. I blinked in shock but gathered my composure enough to tell him that I was fine and continued walking.

How in the world do you tell someone you barely know that you dreamt of him almost three years ago? That you saw that very moment play out exactly as it happened before you even knew he existed? The hallway, the suit, the dance…nothing differed. It was him. I knew it was him.

I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story because you know that we fell in love. Just days after that goofy hallway dance we were inseparable. I told him of my dream months later, after he knew me well enough that he wouldn’t think I was a crazy, clingy stalker. To this day I am amazed. I wonder how that dream happened. What or who placed it in my subconscious just before I was about to marry the wrong person?

Whether or not you believe my story is of little consequence to me. It happened and to this day I feel that destiny brought David and I together and there will always be a little bit of magic attached to us. He finally found me.

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Reflection

I lifted my gaze from the face of my daughter who lay swaddled in my arms, still under the spell of sleepy newborn slumber. In the distance, I watched the pinpoint of a shadowy figure emerge from the light at the end of the darkened corridor. The darkness didn’t bother me. I was content with the weight of the new life in my arms. My eyes struggled to focus on the approaching form. As the space between us began to close, it was my grandmother whose form finally obscured the bright light. Her shuffling approach slowed and I recognized the familiar glint of mischievousness in her eyes. Her mouth turned up slightly in one of her trademark sarcastic smiles as our eyes met. Her expression dared me to ask how she had gotten here.
She stopped before me and tore her gaze from mine. I saw the anticipation in the slight bend of her head as she stooped over Gwen and pulled the swaddle aside. A minute inhale could be heard when her eyes met my new baby. A moment of quiet reflection followed. She looked up at me, her white hair casting shimmering glints reflected from the light behind her. Our eyes met. “Well, ain’t she cunnin’, doll…” Her smile told me she was proud. Without speaking, she told me she loved me. I wanted to reach out and touch her face, but my arms were filled with my baby. Slowly she turned and shuffled back down the corridor while I stood watching. Without turning back, she became a slight pinpoint of shadow. Then she was gone. The light closed upon itself with a discernable pop.

My eyelids fluttered open. My vision was filled with my sleeping daughter, still held under the spell of sleepy newborn slumber. I rolled over to the warmth of David’s arm and kissed him awake. “I just had a dream. Mema was there. She came to meet Gwen.”

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