There are people that dream about their family members who have died, but typically I am not one of those people. I am not one who usually dreams or remembers any of my dreams at all, although I’ve had a few very vivid dreams about things over the years.

For example, one Friday night I had an extremely vivid dream about my mother-in-law. I dreamed that she had fallen, that someone had come to pick her up, and that she was dying. Her health had been declining, but there was no indication that she was near death, so this dream really rattled me.

The next morning, I debated with myself about whether or not to tell my husband, but I decided I’d better tell him and encourage him to call his mom to check in. When he called his folks, his sister answered the the and said, “Joey, I’m so sorry. We should have called you. Mom fell yesterday, and they came and took her to the hospital. They’re really not sure how long she’s going to live.” Needless to say, he booked his plane ticket right away to go see her. She died not long after. That whole experience still gives me goosebumps.

I’ve had several other similar vivid dreams that seemed to fit exactly into what was going on in real life. It is a bit unnerving at times, I have to admit.

I have only dreamed about Jason a couple of times, most memorably about six months after he died. I wish I dreamed about him more. I miss seeing him so much. I miss his hugs so much.

After Jason died, it caused me enormous anguish to think that my precious, beautiful son had borne the direct hit of a car going 70 miles per hour. As a parent, we just want our children to be safe and protected, and our minds rebel at the thought that they weren’t. Our whole beings cry out for the safety and protection of our children. My husband went through a horrible time of guilt that he wasn’t able to protect Jason; he felt like he should have been able to protect him somehow. When the accident happened, the drunk driver’s car hit Jason’s car right on the driver’s side door, right where he was sitting.

My anguish was made worse when I got the death certificates in the mail. Not understanding the medical terminology of the main cause of death listed on the death certificate, I made the mistake of looking it up on the internet. I have never, ever shared what I found with anyone, and I never, ever will. Ever. It caused me a whole lot of anguish for many years. It’s not like I have dwelt on the cause of death all the time, but it definitely factored into my grieving process.

Although we have a complete set of the police investigation, along with all of the photos they took that night, it is securely taped shut with a stern warning on the outside about never, ever opening it. I’ve never looked at it and I never want anyone to, either. When the police detectives reviewed the case with us, they were very selective in the few photos they showed us of the accident. I’m sure there is a very good reason why. I’m glad the whole court case didn’t go to trial; otherwise, a lot of that documentation would become public. I should probably have our work’s shredding service take it away. I don’t know why I’ve held onto it this long.

Anyway, some years after Jason’s death, I hit a really low point and was struggling mightily in my grief — not only about Jason’s death and everything surrounding that time, but how he died. And then, one night, I had a dream that really brought me comfort.

We lived in Florida at the time. In Florida, there are canals and waterways all over the place, and there are some bridges that go up on either side to a flat area on top. As you go  up and across the flat top, you can’t necessarily see if there are any cars stopped as you head down the other side. I always watched in fear that someone would come off the bridge too fast to stop. Florida has some crazy, fast drivers! (No offense to any Floridians!)

In my dream, I had gone across the flat top of the bridge and was on the downslope on the other side, stopped and waiting for the light to change. In my rearview mirror, I saw somebody in a very large, heavy vehicle come barreling up behind me. I instantly knew that there was no way he could stop in time, that he was going to hit me hard, and that there was no way I was going to survive. Right in the split moment before he hit me, I felt my soul, my spirit, whatever you want to call it being pulled out of my body so that I was several feet above the car.

In my dream, I could actually feel the sensation of being pulled out of my body. I don’t even know how to describe it — sort of a quick, but gentle and airy separation of body from spirit that sort of tickled, like someone grabbed me by the back of my collar and just lifted me right out of my body. I was still me, just not in my physical body any more. I could look down past my feet at my physical body in the car, and I felt a holy presence beside me, holding me. I had felt no pain at the moment of impact because I was no longer a part of my physical body; I had been pulled out in the split second before the car hit me.

And, as I woke from that dream, I realized that that’s what had happened to Jason. God had spared him the horrendous pain of being hit by that drunk driver, of his 180-pound frame absorbing the full impact of a speeding, 4000-pound car. He had quickly and gently pulled the true spirit of Jason out of the way of that speeding car to be with Him, leaving just the shell of his body behind to absorb the impact.

From that time on, even though I remember the medical terminology of Jason’s cause of death and know exactly what it means, I know in my heart that he felt no pain at the moment of the accident. He is safe; he is healthy; he is happy. And he’s waiting for me.

I love you, my precious boy. Oh, how I miss you.


© 2018 Rebecca R. Carney

A Stained Glass Window

Sometimes I read through other people’s blogs on grief, just to see what they are saying on the subject. I recently read a couple of posts on Emily Elizabeth Stone’s blog (http://emilyelizabethstone.com) and really enjoyed them. They made me stop and  ponder. They spoke to my heart. I would highly recommend reading them.

The first one I read was entitled “Garbage, Grief, and Compost.” What spoke to me about this one was the fact that we sometimes try to push people out of grief. We are uncomfortable with their grief, so we try to “fix” them or “push” them along. When we try to move someone along on OUR schedule, in a way WE think things should be done, or to a place WE think they should be, it could be that we are preempting the timing and purposes of God.

Ms. Stone says:

“Here’s the hard, hard, hard truth:  So very much good can come out of grief.  The darkness scares us and we want to push someone out of this hard, hard, hard place.  But, when we do that we are stealing.  We are thieves.  We are stealing an opportunity…an opportunity for this grief, this garbage, to turn into compost in our friend’s life.  We push them out, with all of our talking, with all of our fixing, with all of our perky eyebrow raising, with all of our martyred helping, all of our smart explaining and subject changing.  We push them out and the grief, the garbage, never has time to sit, to settle, to rot, to breath…to turn into compost…fertile ground for the new identity, the birthing that MUST take place.” (http://emilyelizabethstone.com/2011/08/28/grief-garbage-and-compost)

At one point several years ago (a year or so after Jason died), God gave me a picture of my life. I saw a wooden-framed window. Almost all of the glass had been knocked out of it; only some rough pieces around the edges were left. Storms had come in through the broken glass and weathered the frame to a cracked gray. It was a mess. I was a mess, so broken. It was not a pretty sight, certainly not one that anyone would notice.

What God showed me, though, was that He was wanted to replace the glass in that frame with pieces of colored glass – glass that had been colored by my tears, by my experiences, and from other sources and people as He saw fit. He was going to leave the original broken, jagged pieces at the edge of the frame, but he was going to fashion a beautiful, stained-glass picture in the middle of it. He was going to take that frame – me – and turn it into a beautiful stained glass window through which He could shine. It brought such comfort to me that God cared enough for me to show me that I could still be of use to Him.

I felt very fragile at the time. I was very wounded and hurt; I wasn’t very strong. I had a couple of very strong-minded people in my life at the time who took it upon themselves to “help” me, to “fix” me. They decided I needed to be someplace else, farther along in my journey. They thought they knew what I needed, and they were not very gentle with the fragile pieces in my life that were in that frame.

I was basically very fragile, very vulnerable, and operating in a coping mode. I realized later, by allowing the rough bumping against the frame in an effort to move me along the path someone else had decided, that I had allowed the “helpers” (and others in my life) to knock out some of the pieces God had started to put into that frame. I felt like the work in progress had stopped, and the frame was laying off to the side.

Yes, I allowed people to knock those pieces out. Maybe I was distracted by grief, by Jason’s death and everything that followed. Maybe my own struggle with my faith or feelings of abandonment played a part. Maybe I was weak but didn’t allow God to be strong in my life. I don’t know. I don’t ever want to sound like a whiny victim. That’s certainly not what I mean. Sometimes in our lives, though, we are just so vulnerable. It’s much easier for others to have an impact on our lives.

I want to be that beautiful stained-glass window through which He can shine. I want people to look at my life – through my life – and see God. I am a work in progress and certainly have a long way to go. It’s been a long journey and I have not yet “arrived.” I don’t know that I’m even close. It’s only been recently the framed image of a stained-glass window has been revived in my life. I’m doing my best to cooperate and allow God to make my life into something beautiful and useable.

I have read some about stained glass, the process of coloring the glass, and the process of actually making the window. The glass, during its molten stage, is colored by adding natural impurities, minerals, or pigments. Because the pieces are fit snugly within the larger frame and surrounded by additional support holding the smaller glass pieces in, many windows (even from the Middle Ages) still survive. Sometimes they are about the only thing that survives! Stained glass windows, besides being beautiful, become stronger because of their construction. Also, they usually depict a scene or symbol of significance – they tell a story.

I thought that was interesting. I want God to snugly fit the pieces into that frame of my life, hold them together by His strength, and show His beauty through my life.

Anyway, it seems to me that we need to learn to gentle with each other…and with ourselves. We don’t know the work God may be doing in ours or another’s life. We certainly want to provide support (we need to do that – see Ms. Stone’s blog on “Peter’s Shadow”), but we don’t want to knock out the stained glass or trample the garden.

I dreamed about Jason this morning

From my journal dated August 29, 2002:

I dreamed about Jason for the first time this morning. Joe had gotten up to get ready for work, kissed me goodbye and left for work. I fell back asleep and dreamed about Jason.

I dreamed we were living in a different house, and I had come home from somewhere…and there was Jason in his room. He couldn’t remember where he’d been, but he was doing homework and getting ready to go to a dance with Hannah. I was so happy and decided to call someone to find out how they could so horribly misdiagnose his death.

As I picked up the phone to call, one of Jason’s friends was on the line, so I told him Jason was alive! Other people started driving up to find out if it was true. I went into Jason’s room to give him a big hug and to have him give me a big hug because I’ve missed him – and his hugs – so much.

I woke up smiling, so happy. And then reality crashed back on me, and I just started crying and couldn’t stop. I wanted to be in that place – in that dream – where Jason is alive. It just seemed so real as I was dreaming it. My mind must be picking up the way I really want things to be. I’m just so sad that it’ll never be that way.

I think I’m really struggling not to be depressed. I just don’t care what time I get up in the morning or what I get accomplished. I get very little done…and I don’t really care. Jenna said something about the house being a mess, but she really does nothing to help clean it, either. She just stays busy working or leaves. Eric doesn’t do much, either. So, I’m left all alone with housework or errands to keep me company…the drudgery stuff.

I just feel like I’m withering up emotionally. I’ve tried to reach out, but hardly anyone reaches back. I don’t have the energy or desire any more. I don’t have the desire for anything any more. I am so pathetic!

Wake me when the nightmare’s over

From my journal dated June 17, 2002:

Last night I dreamed I was watching a VHS movie on one television and a DVD movie on another television at the same time. They were side by side. I hated the movies that were on, and I kept trying to stop both the VCR and DVD players. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get them to stop. I kept trying and trying, and I was getting so frustrated because nothing I did worked.

When I woke up, my first conscious thought was what a weird, funny dream…and I chuckled at it. But then reality sinks back in, and I realized it was a reflection of this reality I’m stuck with…that Jason is gone and I can’t change it. Seems to me like my frustration with not being able to change things is seeping into my dreams.

Angry dream

From my journal dated May 19, 2002:

I had a dream the other night. I so seldom remember my dreams that it’s odd I remember this one.

I dreamed we were at C.S.’s* house for dinner. She was upset with us for some reason and put all of us [our family] at the old kitchen table to eat while she sat at the dining room table with all the fancy dishes and crystal. She kept glaring over at us. Her family felt she was wrong and came to sit with us. I needed to get a drink so I started to go get one for myself, but then thought I should be polite and ask C.S.* if that was okay. She made some kind of really rude comment to me when I asked, and I punched my fist down into a glass bowl full of whipped cream salad and started choking her in such a rage.

I woke up…and realized what anger I have in my heart toward [people] in general right now for making US feel like the bad guys when we’ve done nothing wrong. We can’t help it that Jason died and that they’re all uncomfortable. Why are we paying the price? Why do they not support us? Why do they avoid us? People have a hard time being around us…and especially have a hard time coming to our home. It’s more comfortable for them to avoid us, but where does that leave us? Alone…and paying the price for something beyond our control!! No family, no church support, no support of any kind on a consistent basis.

We’re paying the price. How sad! And I guess I’m just really angry about it right now.