I am awakened to Audrey’s cry. I pick up my phone to check the time: 3 am. I want ignore it and hope she goes back to sleep. But then I hear her words, “I want to play with appa NOW!!!!”
Without pause, I get out of bed. (This is just horrible. I must have done something. What did I do to deserve this?) It isn’t until the next day that I realize this is truly the first time I have ever heard Audrey scream out for you. It is different from her routine, “Appa died, ” Or “Sarah misses her appa.” My heart breaks then. On this dark night, it shatters.
Entering her room, I find her standing in her crib opening the small curtain that looks out into the living room screaming those same words over and over, “I want to play with Appa now!”
(What have I done in some past life…what did I do to deserve this kind of pain) I pick her up and try to calm her, carrying her with me back to my bed. There are tears streaming down her face. In my bed she calms a little bit but is talkative, “Appa …disappeared…heaven…” These are the words I hear at 3:30 am on a Friday night. (This is the lowest point, I am at my lowest point.) Finally she lays down beside me. But it seems we both lay there for a long time, eyes open, unable to sleep. Twenty minutes later, she is sitting straight up again saying those words, “Appa, disappeared, he went to heaven.” “I know,” I tell her, “I’m so sorry Audrey- I’m so sorry.”
Eventually, we sleep.
In the morning, we wake up, she goes potty, we eat breakfast, the usual thing. Later while I’m picking out her clothes, I ask her if she remembers her dream about appa. We talk about her dreams quite often so she has a context for the word. One night she awoke screaming that she dropped her lollipop, another- she wanted her umbrella-another, she needed ice cream. These are the dreams of a two year old apparently. And in the morning, I usually ask her if she remembers and tell her what she was saying. She laughs about the dream and later we all laugh as we tell grandma and grandpa. She acknowledges them as dreams and even her imaginary friends she calls, “My imaginary friends.”
This morning, she looks pensive for a moment and then as if she suddenly remembers with excitement says, “No, that wasn’t a dream! That was real. Appa really appeared. He appeared. He was alive. He came to read to me and play with me.”
I realize that the previous night when she was saying he appeared, I just assumed she meant disappeared. Sometimes in the light of a new morning, everything has a slightly different context.
I am a skeptic these days. Even in the context of belief and theology, I don’t think it’d even make sense for a “visit,” but nonetheless, tears stream down my face as she goes on, without any prodding from me. “He came to read to me and play with me. He came back from heaven.” She seems delighted. So when I heard her talking about heaven while I was half asleep she wasn’t confirming that he’d gone to heaven but that he’d come back.
3 am is a time of wakefulness in the sleep cycle. This would explain it. Her unconscious mind is revealing some of what she’s felt and buried there. This is profoundly sad to me.
And yet…and yet, there is a brightness about the way she speaks of this- not her typical, look around and search for ideas toddler talk, “I need something…um, I need a tiny sip of water!” It’s not thought out, but just told. And theology and science aside, no one knows if we live, where we go, or what is possible. I do know that this sounds like you- I’ve thought it so many times since you left us, “If he was still anywhere in existence, I don’t care how great the separation, he just wouldn’t be able to stay away from her.”
When my mom appeared in my dream to tell me she was okay but that she had to go back to heaven, I knew too, when I woke up, that that dream was more real than this world we are living in.
This blew me away. If there is a membrane between life and death, I suspect it is more permeable for the very young. And that it's perfectly natural for them to experience things we adults scoff at.
I have had dreams of my boyfriend who left this earth in December of 2009. Sometimes, he is so tangible and so very 'there' it kind of feels like it doesn't make sense to think of it as not real. The last time I dreamt of him I was just holding on to him saying I can't believe you've come back.
I really, really wish for you that Dan visits you in your dreams.
I often question what will happen when I die too (after reading your other post about what would it be like if you died in 50 years time). I wonder if Matt and I will be reunited with me being 26 again, and how he remembered me, and then I think then what is the rest of my life going to amount to, in terms of will Matt just not know the me after he died?
His beloved cat, Geoff, was killed in a hit and run a couple of weeks ago. I like to think that Geoff had to be the first one out of all of us to follow Matt to heaven, or wherever he has gone, because we all poured so much love into Geoff after Matt had gone- we all nurtured and petted and got so much comfort from this- and so Geoff soaked this up and took it to Matt from all of us.
Sending much love to you and your daughter,
Julia, thinking of you and Audrey tonight. Be safe this weekend. Precious Audrey… She is so amazing and this post is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.