I had an experience the other night. Some may scoff at it. Some may say they believe. And still others may shrug and think, ‘maybe?’. But I wanted to share it because it felt real to me, whether it happened or not.
This week has been a mixed bag of grief. I came off a wonderful, long weekend with my daughter and the aftermath of being alone again hit me hard. Some moments, some days, were easier than others, while other times, too many other times, I felt pain from the longing for Peter. Wednesday was a day of thinking of him all day, and with each thought, the pain of wanting him back but knowing he’ll never be here with me again weakened my resolve.
I went to bed on Wednesday night early and in tears. I wanted, no needed, to put the day to rest. Sometime in the middle of the night, I awoke like I do often. I’ve always been a fitful sleeper. As I drifted back to the point where my mind and body were melting into a dreamlike state but not completely there, I felt a shift in my bed, the kind of roll you feel when someone has joined you. Then, there was a wave of warm, caressing chills over me while goosebumps exploded on the back of my neck and on my hairline. Both were peaceful and comforting, yet a bit frightening. When I sensed soft kisses on my lips, I relaxed for a bit, until the fear of not knowing where this will go took over. I struggled, but eventually opened my eyes. When I did, my heart raced and a conflicting peace of knowing Peter was here. This happened twice again to me that night. Each time I floated back to sleep to feel him again, except without the shifting in bed, except with the absence of a kisses.
Let me say this. All three times, I know was not sleeping, yet I wasn’t awake. I’ve had many times in life where I close my eyes and give into the darkness I see behind my lids. I allow myself to be carried into it, as deep as I am able to go until fear of the unknown jerks me out of it. But while I’m “there”, everything else around me doesn’t exist – sound, touch, a sense of presence. It’s just me and the darkness. I think some would describe it as meditation. Not sure as I never thought of myself as a person who meditates. Whatever it is, this was the feeling I had those three times on Wednesday night. I didn’t feel like I was on a bed in a room. I felt like I was existing in a space of nonthreatening, not scary, deprivation darkness.
I have had these feelings before, the sensation of someone I loved who has passed on is with me. After my daughter was born, I saw, felt, known, my father’s presence at the hospital. My dad died five weeks before my daughter was born. When I sensed him, I knew he told me he thought she was beautiful. Many times after in the next six weeks of her life, he was present. I also knew he was with me after my son was born, reassuring me my premature son was going to be okay. My dad ‘came’ again to me when I struggled with something in my life. I’ve had the same feeling of two dear aunts who died during various times in my life. All of them were present to me when I was in this state of nothingness, the place between dream and awake.
I can break this down and try to analyze it logically. These three incidents on Wednesday night may have happened at a time I missed Peter so much, my subconscious gave me him. Or, perhaps it was all a dream, the same dream three times. It happens. I’ve had a reoccurring dream of my parents in their bedroom eating pound cake. Don’t ask. Or maybe, just maybe, my brain tricked me into believing any of this in an attempt to move on in grief. These all make sense to my brain, yet to my heart, the one thing that has ruled me since birth, it just doesn’t.
I know I have a strong imagination. My invisible friend, J.J., from my childhood could tell you that. I believe imagination is a way to open your mind to other possibilities. My soul as a writer perhaps. Maybe this openness allows me to experience these possibilities. Grief is so unknown and different for everyone, so maybe it works on a part of my brain I never had to use before, giving me glimpses into the unexplored. Maybe there is a part of my heart who loves Peter so strong, it called out to him and he responded. Or maybe, it doesn’t matter if it was real or not.
Maybe all that does matter, is for a moment, for those moments, I felt the deep connection that only existed in the tangible world and now can no longer be. Maybe all that matters is on Thursday morning when I awoke, the feeling Peter was with me, in one form or another, gave me a peaceful comfort. And while a new me emerges with severed parts of Peter, I know he will always be part of what I was, who I am now and what I will become.
So, I’m not going to think too hard on the why’s or the if’s. I won’t examine the craziness this may sound to some, or how others see it as a desperation Grief gave me. I won’t even defend myself and what I knew to be real. All I think I will do is sit with it and smile and think, “Peter, you will always be part of me, even in the darkness”. And that will be enough.