The other night, J and E were away at their Dad’s for the week, and Jon was working late. I’d fallen asleep with both the little girls in our big bed. As I so often do when I slip into that interstitial, gauzy place between wakefulness & real sleep, I attempted a little DIY lucid dreaming – trying so hard to find my dead son and just “be” with him, even if only for a moment.
Only one or two times since Henry died have I had a dream where we were together in a very real and happy way. However, I do have many, many dreams all the time in which he’s drowning or unable to escape
a burning house or – worst of all – trapped by evil people inside a nasty little house trailer full of barking dogs, on a back road, incapacitated by drugs, stripped naked and struggling for air, and I can’t find him and he can’t call out to his mama for help because he can’t even BREATHE.
These are the dreams I mostly have.
But there have been two instances since he died where he came to me in a dream without being in desperate, grasping fear or peril. One of those dreams was so wonderful that the memory of it has kept me afloat on some of the worst days. In it, he walked toward me, tall, smiling, healthy. His hair was curly and his brown eyes were sparkling and he just walked up to me and told me that everything was okay – that HE was okay – and then he reached out and gave me this big, wonderful hug that lasted a really long time.
During the hug we shared, I could absolutely feel every physical thing that made Henry himself when he was alive. He was so tall and lanky – I remember that in the dream I could even feel his backbone because he was all sinewy teenage boy. And I could smell him, and he hugged me back just as tightly, with complete joy and a sense of well being.
And then just as quickly as he’d come to me like that in that dream, he dissipated. He didn’t leave or move away. He just vanished. But I wasn’t sad so much as reassured. It was wonderful.
That particular dream has been something I’ve clung to, hoping maybe I could have one like it again, even once, instead of the awful ones that come so often.
So on many nights, as I fall asleep, I consciously try to conjure that dream back up – or one like it. I try to think as specifically as I can about every detail of Henry’s physical self – the way his hair curled near his ears and the way he walked and the little sardonic twist of his upper lip when he smiled. Those CRAZY long fingers and toes of his. – all of it.
And that’s what I was trying to do the other night in my halfway dreamlike, almost sleep state, alone in the house but for G and C asleep in the bed with me when someone came in the bedroom and seemed to move toward me. I thought, it’s him! He’s come home!
I actually cried out, “Henry! Henry!”. And I was paralyzed with fear, lying as still as I could so that he wouldn’t disappear instead of coming closer to talk to me and let me hug him again, like that other time.
And then Jon put his hand against my cheek, and I was so startled by the obviously physical human touch that I screamed out loud.
After I screamed and realized that my husband had come home and was standing next to the bed, I burst into tears, and I cried and cried because I’d been foolish enough to think that my son had come home to visit me in some otherworldly way.
Jon held me until I fell into a fitful sleep for the night. The next morning, I couldn’t recall anything about any dreams I might have had.