At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.    

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe     C.S. Lewis

Listen to her tell you, in her sweet, excited, over-tired voice- the one that trembles a little bit, about the dream she had about him almost four years ago- as a toddler.  About how he disappeared but told her “I promise, I’ll be back.”  The dream she will not forget.

Sit on the edge of her bed, on the pink heart duvet cover, listen to her tell you that when he said it, “It was like in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Remember how when the Beaver first says the name Aslan…it says that everyone felt something?  It was like that…I felt something so strong when he said that.  It was important to me.”

Swoon over her literary allusion in disbelief; then tell her, “I know honey, I know that dream was important to you.”  Brush the hair behind her little ears with your fingers.

Let her sleep with his old basketball shorts- just for one night- the ones you keep in your bottom drawer- that somehow still miraculously smell like him.  Watch her smell and hug them and put them beside her on the pillow, “I’ll picture him there.”

When she says that she’ll speak to him in her heart and stares at the right side of her chest, redirect her gaze to the left where her heart is.  Chuckle together.

“He answered back.  His voice was the same, but stronger, and clearer and better,” she says.  Listen to her.

The second dream.  “So I waited and waited for years for him to come back in my dream…and then finally he did in that other dream I had last year.  I woke up in my bed and he was in my room standing over me and he said ‘I’m back’ and I screamed to you,  ‘Appa’s back!’ and then you came running in and we hugged and we all had breakfast together.”

Tell her that you are so sorry.  You are.  So.  Sorry.  Think of your own dream a couple of years ago- think of the dream, the reunion, and how magical thinking, according to Didion, only lasts a year- and then- acceptance.

Tell her to get some sleep.   Hug her and kiss her.  “I love you, and your dad loves you too- love never dies,” tell her quietly while you squeeze her.  Never.  Goodnight.

Put on your slippers and go to the kitchen to wash the remaining dishes.  Run the water.  Pull on your dish washing gloves.  Lean on to the counter in front of the sink as your knees give out a little.  Wipe your eyes.  Wipe them with your forearm.

When she calls out and asks, over the running water, if she can write in her diary before bed – let her.  Let her write.


5 thoughts on “Listen

    1. Thank you Jess…this was actually a few weeks ago- but came to me speaking to myself in the second person today while i was on a train. I believe it gave me psychological distance from the moment.


  1. This is beautiful and heartbreaking. I love how you use the second person. It forces us inside and up close. We can’t create a safe distance from the rawness.

    Your daughter sounds so full of wisdom and creativity. I’m so terribly sorry for your loss and hers.


  2. Yes, I think that distance can sometimes be a blessing. I also think that may touch on why I find your writing so compelling – you don’t enforce distance. You step into the fire of each moment and share what you find there, burning so brightly it helps others to see. There is so much truth and beauty in reality, but it can be so hard to stay present with the pain. I always leave this space richer than when I arrived, so thank you yet again for sharing your heart.


  3. Breathtaking. Your posts keep me in the present and help me to be a better mom. Thank you for sharing with us. Prayers for continued strength and guidance that only He can give.


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