A lot of people, when they lose someone, encounter them again in dreams or visions or words spoken in their ear when unexpected; a touch, a warm rush of air, a knowing that they are present although they are gone. This is not the situation with me. I have very, very rarely in my lifetime encountered a lost one in a dream and I have never simply felt their presence. But last night the clouds parted for a moment.
I’ve been feeling beset by grief again. It came up late one night — very late — and I said to it, I’m sorry, this is not the right time for you.
Never say that to your grief.
So my grief retreated and I went to sleep and the next day and the day after that and the day after that I had a weight inside me that drained my energy and made it very difficult to go through the motions of the day. It took me a while to realise that this was my rejected grief, which retreated when commanded but simply stood behind the curtain and found its way into my consciousness in the only way it could.
Yesterday morning I had a co-counselling session with a friend of mine. Co-counselling is a slightly more elaborate form of peer counselling, where two people or three people or a whole group of people take turns as counsellor and as client. In my time as client I spoke of the many things that have been coming up that I am grateful for and happy about. Maybe halfway through I finally said, "You know, I think I may be getting a little depressed and I think it’s because of this grief that I told to go away." My friend said, "Well, do you want to talk about it now?"
So I started to talk. About Vic, of course. I just told her how the grief was hitting me and why. I talked about having known him almost all my life, so that every part of me, every stage and condition of me, has known and loved him. And that I have loved every time of him, from the baby with the bright yellow hair that seem to be catching the sun and illuminating his beautiful face. His smile, which came so soon and so easily and so often and which again lit his entire face and lit my heart with love. I said that we all loved him, all of the family. We just loved him. So much.
I began to cry, much as my eyes are threatening to do now. Talking about my love for Vic, talking about how beautiful and wonderful and loveable he was allowed me a few moments of feeling my grief directly, in a gentle way, and allowing those tears and those sobs the attention and the expression that they need.
When I was sleeping early this morning I dreamt that I was in my physio office and they were moving things around me and I was puzzled by what was going on. Until I remembered that they’re moving down the hall to a larger location. I said, "Oh, are you moving this weekend?" And suddenly I noticed one of the people who was moving the equipment. He was a young man in his early twenties. He was looking at me as he manoeuvred the equipment to take it down the hall. His whole body was relaxed and his face was lit up with a lovely, humorous smile — just like the one you see in the picture above. To my astonishment, it was Victor. He was here, he was alive, and I thought, "Oh, my God. He’s actually feeling well enough that they’re letting him help with the move." I was so happy.
That was my whole dream. There was no conversation between us. There were no hugs, or tears, just awareness. Contact. Love and the joy of being alive, and being well enough to move.
What a wonderful gift.
Image: Victor James Arnott with our mother, Lorraine Arnott. Photo by the author, circa 1980 something.