In Memoriam ~ when the dead speak to us
Today is the Autumn Equinox and I woke crying. I woke crying because I dreamed about a friend who is dead.
Debbie was one of those extraordinary people who just brim with talent and ability; she was doing a doctorate in Zoology at the same time as I was doing my B.A in English and Latin. She had a gentle and gracious nature and we almost shared a birthday, so on a couple of occasions we shared celebrations. Not only was she intellectually gifted, she was spiritually gifted too, and was called to the priesthood, training a year or two ahead of my husband.
The first Christmas after we moved to darkest Norfolk for my husband’s first incumbency, I sent Debbie a gift and when a week or so later a card came from her, I was unprepared for the letter that came with it.
“Brace yourselves; I’ve got leukaemia!”
A bright and breezy letter detailing her death sentence followed. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time. I assumed that she would be one of those people who survived. I assumed that the fact that she’d fought some pretty serious difficulties in her life so far meant she’d survive this.
I was wrong. She died. She was only in her mid thirties.
This morning, I dreamed of her. I’ll be honest, I’ve thought of her at times over the years but we weren’t very close and her passing had saddened but not devastated me. So it was a very strange dream, to be driving up to a house I knew to be hers and going round to the back door. The door was ajar, into a cosy old fashioned kitchen complete with Rayburn and snoozing dogs, and I shouted, “Are you in? We’re here!”. Debbie appeared, older, and with white streaks in her hair, and her face lit up at the sight of me. She held me at arms’ length before hugging me tight and then holding me out again to look at me. Then I woke.
When the dead speak to us in dreams, it is surely a sign that something is shifting in our lives, but what? Why did I dream of a friend, dead now thirteen years, whose life ended prematurely and with work incomplete?