In 2004, I had a vision.
Maybe vision is the wrong word. The cynic in me says it was just a dream. The part of me that understands that sometimes it’s important to let one’s experiences trump one’s knowledge believes that it was something more.
I’m the sort who remembers many of my dreams. I remember the ones that had physical sensations like flying or falling; I remember the ones that have mental sensations like confusion or focus. I remember the emotions, the plots, the characters. I have had incredibly vivid dreams, recurring dreams, even a few lucid dreams.
This one felt nothing like a dream. I remember waking up and being asleep at the same time; it was similar to what people describe as out of body experiences.
I felt a presence in the room. I looked around and saw a figure standing behind a soft golden light that was still bright enough to obscure my vision. I could just barely see enough to recognize who I was seeing.
It was my grandmother.
She had passed away in 2001.
She had often been a minor source of slight anxiety in my life; she was a devout and fairly conservative Christian, and I had always felt a necessity to hide some of my life from her — things that she would have disapproved of. Nothing major, but I knew she would be disappointed in some of the music I listened to, or the fact that I went to a prom (dancing was also a no-no). As I got older and moved away and took on my own adult life, she couldn’t be aware of other actions of mine she wouldn’t have liked — drinking alcohol, for example. But that night, seeing her behind the glow, I felt — I knew — that she knew all of it. And not just those things, but everything else; the things that I tried to hide from everyone. She knew everything.
I asked her why she was here… and if she was okay. It felt like a stupid question to ask; she hadn’t been okay at the end of her life as Alzheimer’s ran its merciless course, and now… dead is not generally “okay.”
And she answered me in a voice that was simultaneously hers, and the voice of the universe, and my own voice (and I don’t know which of the three was most responsible for my breath catching in my chest).
“I want you to know,” she said, “that you’re fine. You’re doing fine. You don’t need to worry about it. You’re doing fine.”
I sobbed, and I woke up feeling more peace than I had ever felt before. That peace has never fully left me, even in the worst of times.
In 2005, on December 31, my sweet nephew Isaiah passed away. He was three months old. My heart was ripped out of my chest. The last day I had seen him, I hadn’t held him because so many other relatives had been there and I wanted to let them have time, and the next opportunity I would have to lift him up was as a pallbearer — one of six (I think), which seemed unnecessary as any one of us could have lifted his coffin with no effort. I felt useless; I didn’t know how to comfort anyone, and I didn’t know how to be comforted. I kept remembering that the last day I had seen him, he had gotten sick, suddenly, and I had involuntarily laughed at the baby-barf slapstick that I thought it was, never for a second thinking that it could have been the precursor to anything worse. For a long time, I had trouble forgiving myself for that one laugh.
The same day that Isaiah passed away, I was baptized. And despite everything, that peace was there. Even through the next several days and the blur of travel and funeral and watching as our family tried to hold ourselves together through the emotional maelstrom that engulfed us all, there was still a thread of that peace.
Today, while I was getting Sage ready for bed, she whacked her hand on the wall.
“Are you all right?”
“Did you hurt your hand?”
“I huht da waww.”
“You hurt the wall?”
“Yeah. It’s aww wight.”
“Good. Is Sage all right?”
“Yeah. Sage is aww wight.”
“And… and MOMMY’S aww wight!”
“Yeah, Mommy’s all right too.”
“And DADDY’S aww wight!”
“And… Chewwe’s aww wight!”
“Yes, Chelle is all right.”
“And Zayz aww wight!”
“ZAYZ aww wight.”
“Sage is all right?”
And she looked at me, her eyes earnest and her face becoming serious. She pointed to the sky and spoke carefully and deliberately.
“Daddy, ‘zaiah’s aww wight.”
“…did… did you just say Isaiah is all right??”
“Yeah. Zaiah’s aww wight.”
“Daddy, be a cow now. I’m a cow. MOO!”
We haven’t talked to her a lot about Isaiah. She’s too young to get it. We do have some pictures of him around, and if she asks, we tell her who it is, but we don’t dwell on it.
This was one of the most astonishing moments of my life.
Some of you believe in far less than I do when it comes to supernatural things. Some of you believe in far more. Some of you will believe that Sage and Isaiah have somehow communicated; some of you will believe that Sage remembers, retains, and understands more than we can really comprehend.
I don’t know. I’m just not sure.
But it’s not the first time that I’ve gotten a “message” that we are all all right.