My son visited me in a dream last night.
I often dream of dead people—my sister, my mother, friends and family. In my dreams, they are themselves, and dead. I know they are dead, because in my dreams, I always know I am dreaming.
After my mom died, she visited me over a period of months, although she only spoke to me directly once. As was usual with my mom, she was busy helping others and knew I didn’t need her the same way. On her last visit, she told me she wouldn’t return, but she looked at me with such love. I’ve carried that feeling with me ever since.
After my son died, I felt that I wouldn’t see him. Maybe because I think of these dreams as a sort of grace—whether bestowed by the universe or my own subconscious—and I don’t know if I deserve to feel that with my beloved boy. I still feel as if I failed him, so badly that I don’t deserve peace or comfort.
Yet he came anyway.
In the dream, he walked up to the table where a grown-up version of his brother and I were having lunch in a strange city. He looked just as he had last time I saw him—gangly, skinny, all boy yet with the shape of the man he was going to become starting to form—except for some reason, his head was shaved. Just as he did in life, he leaned into me.
“Hi, Mom,” he said.
I turned and hugged him. I said how glad I was to see him. I asked if he was enjoying being dead; was he having fun? Was he okay? Was he being taken care of?
He shrugged and laughed and in the way of dreams, we all got up to leave. He ran out the restaurant door. I called to him to wait, oh please, wait. And when I got out the door, he was gone. And then I woke up.
I don’t know how to feel. In the dream, I was so happy to see him. I never got to say goodbye in life, but this wasn’t about that because in dreams, the dead call the shots. I didn’t tell him I’m sorry. I didn’t say “I love you.” I didn’t ask what he was thinking. I just let him know how happy I was to see him, and did what he called “that Mom thing.”
Was he really there? Was it just subconscious wish fulfillment? I don’t know.
I just know how much I long to hold him, just one more time. How much I wish he were still here. How much I hope that, wherever he is, he is happy and loved. And having fun.