For those who don’t know, my dad passed away from melanoma on his 58th birthday nearly seven years ago on May 21, 2011. A few months after his death, I had my first dream in which we talked from the afterlife. Since then, I (and many friends and family members) have had similar dreams with him. Sometimes he talks about Heaven, sometimes he just hugs me, and sometimes he is just a silent witness to everything else that is happening in the dream. When I was going through the worst part of my separation, he was in my dreams defending my home from people trying to get in.
Last night, he was oddly enough at a UT football game. If you knew my dad, you know that his blood ran blue and white in celebration of his beloved UK Wildcats and that it pained him to write my tuition check to UT. Unless they were playing the Cats, he wouldn’t dare be caught in Neyland Stadium. But sure enough, there he was in a skybox with some of his friends, and of all people, Phil Fulmer walked me into the stadium and told me that my dad was there to see me. What a dream, right?
Some people scoff at the notion that we can communicate with the dead through our dreams, but even in Biblical times kings hired people with those abilities to help make sense of their lives. Call it a spiritual gift, call it the opening of our higher chakras – I just know that my dreams have been vivid as long as I have been living. And I used to think it was a curse until I started talking with my dad in them. Now, it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given.
After a loved one has been gone for a long time, it’s difficult to remember the way they smelled, the sound of their voice, and the touch of their embrace. These dreams with my father bring every second of my life with him roaring back, and most times, I’m so overwhelmed by it that I can barely eek out words to talk with him. I usually end up crying uncontrollably. In each dream, he is the same – very much like the version of him I had growing up, all tan with a thick head of dark hair. This, of course, is ironic seeing as how incredibly self-conscious he was of his thinning hair as he aged, so naturally in Heaven he would sport this thick coif.
In terms of communicating with the dead in our dreams, I believe two things to be true: one, that our hearts and minds have to be open to receiving it. I think if we are closed off to the possibility that it can happen, then it won’t. I don’t see our loved ones out there using their energy to prove us wrong but rather visit when we are spiritually and emotionally ready to handle it. And secondly, it’s an incredibly healing moment in those deep wounds that still ache from their loss. For those of us who watched a heartbreaking decline through illness, it’s tough to remember that person young and vibrant. Caring for them in those last months is traumatic, and being able to embrace their vibrancy applies salve to those scars. In the first dream I had the summer after he died, he picked me up, swung me around like a kid, and after setting me down, kept holding out his hands and saying, “Look at how healthy I am! Look at how whole I am!” I can miss him all I want, but seeing that brings me peace knowing that all has been restored now.
In my dream last night, I had been on a long trip, and the end of it culminated in a surprise to Neyland. When I realized that he was there, I ran up to him, hugging him for a long time and crying. I couldn’t form words very well, but what did manage to come out was, “I’ve missed you so much, and I just want to go home with you guys.” He just nodded, hugged me, and said that he was there now. I want to bind that moment up and tuck it away in my heart for as long as I live.
If you haven’t ever had an experience like mine – that’s okay. Be open and patient, and it will come. Love and energy, well – they never die. Ever. Whether it’s in the form of a bird, a four-leaf clover, an Eagles song, or a dream, our loved ones always seem to find a way back to us to let us know how much we are loved. If you don’t believe in this, that’s okay, too. All I know that it is real to me, as real as the 30 years I was able to have on Earth with my dad. And that’s what matters.