Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Dream

The first winter after we lost Jack, my friend Courtney shared a dream with me. If you have read Rare Bird or followed this blog for a while, you remember how she and other friends experienced signs, visions, and dreams regarding Jack during those first few months. I was no longer surprised, so I just took it in.

I was disappointed that this dream didn't have to do with Jack, but with me.

In it, Courtney saw me walking beside a creek. Not THE creek in the woods behind our neighbors' house, but a different one, on a bright day. I had bare feet and I walked in about an inch of water that saturated the grass beside the creek. Then, I lay down face-first in the grass, getting wet all over. People walking with me tried to tell me to get up, saying that I didn't need to get myself wet, telling me I might become muddy. But I stayed on the ground, wet but not muddy, and continued to splash the crystal clear water. Before long, another woman whom Courtney knew, in pain and also grieving, traced my footsteps, following me.

Courtney and I both interpreted this dream to mean that I was letting myself feel my grief, and while that might have seemed too messy or uncomfortable for others who so wanted to spare me pain, it was something I was going to do anyway. And there were others, even people I didn't know, who came behind me, observing.

I didn't realize at that point that my grief journey would be a public one, first through this blog, and eventually a book. I didn't have any sort of mission to demystify grief, or to peel back the curtain as to what survival could look like. I just wanted to get through the holidays without giving up. I wanted to shake the cobwebs of shock and horror out of my head, and write from my heart. I wanted write about my fierce longing for Jack, a longing that grew out of great love.

I don't know if I will write about grief forever.

There are other things to be discussed, of course. Light topics such as fleece-lined tights (yay!) and the making and eating of scones. Heavier topics such as our failure to live better, as lights in the darkness, even when we know better.  

I never planned to lose Jack. I never planned to write about grief. In my first years of  blogging, when people asked me what kind of writer I was, I  would answer, "A Life Blogger" because I wasn't sure if my writing was more about my kids, decorating, my faith, or candy corn.

And even in writing so much about death, I guess that's what I still am. I write about LIFE. And I hope I can do justice to those dear ones who come after me, watching.


Jami said...

I came across your blog a few days after my 50 year old brother passed away suddenly, leaving his wife, 11 and 18 year old sons, and the rest of our family reeling. I simply googled "how to help a grieving family" because I needed to help as much as I needed to be helped. I found your post and then your story. I stayed up much too late reading and it brought fresh new tears for a family I never met. I am truly sorry for your loss. And thank you for sharing your heart. I was very much comforted by the list you gave, but by many of the blessings you mentioned along the way. I pray for my brother's family to be blessed in this way as well. It has only been 9 days...God bless you. Thank you for sharing.

Joyce Rice said...

Anna, write what your heart calls you to write. You are gifted and you are inspirational to so many. xo

Laura Perry said...

It's funny- that was exactly my take on the dream even before I read what the two of you thought. I think grief makes some people really uncomfortable, particularly those who are under the impression there is a right way to go through it.

I also really relate to what you said about writing about grief- and how that wasn't what your plan was initially, and that it may not be what you write about forever. I am feeling that a bit with my own writing these days. I don't want to be a 'divorce blogger.' Or I don't want to be JUST that. And I don't want to be mired in that forever. But I do know that I am still processing what happened, and how I feel about it, and what it has taught me about myself, and life, and relationships- and part of the way I process is by writing.

You were a writer before you Jack died, and your writing reflected your life at that time. Right now, you are still processing, still figuring out who you are in the new landscape of your life- and your writing reflects that. You are a beautiful writer, Anna. Wherever you are at in your life, you will bring your prodigious writing talent to bear and reflect exactly where you are.

How lucky for us. xoxo

Hillary said...

God bless you, Anna! You have helped more people than you could ever guess, I think. As a fellow mother my heart still aches when I read your blog, but I think your words are so valuable to others who are grieving.

julie gardner said...

A Life Blogger.

What a beautiful, purposeful interpretation.

Connie said...

Anna, it was so smart of you to get those first thoughts and feelings down in text before your mind had a chance to twist the events or have you second guess them. You can always go back and analyze them if you feel the need, but often our first thoughts are purely us. In recording them on your blog you extended an invitation in which is what so endears us to walk with you and pray for you and care and cry with you. God Bless always.

Connie said...

Anna, it was so smart of you to get those first thoughts and feelings down in text before your mind had a chance to twist the events or have you second guess them. You can always go back and analyze them if you feel the need, but often our first thoughts are purely us. In recording them on your blog you extended an invitation in which is what so endears us to walk with you and pray for you and care and cry with you. God Bless always.

Claire Plante said...


Your writing helps so many people, and is so inspiring and thought provoking too. You are definitely doing it justice!

That is such an interesting interpretation of the dream and it sounds right to me. I have read that water is associated with emotions, so the fact that you were immersed in it speaks to that. There are of course many theological undertones with water as well.

Many of my dreams during difficult times of my life have involved water and it has been a good signal to me to pay deeper attention to my emotions during waking hours. Houses also feature prominently when I am going through a lot. The houses usually are not mine, but I always know my way around them, even when they have multiple levels, staircases, etc. and seem unfamiliar.

Lots of love to you, Anna!


Alison said...

You are such a light in so many lives, Anna. xoxo

myinnerchick.com said...

You have part of my heart.

I just ordered Rare Bird. I am VERY much looking forward to reading it.

Btw, For me, I shall mourn forever. I shall tell Kay's story forever.

Love from MN.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your dream (and your journey with us). No parent should outlive their child/children. For those of us who have it does seem to help to know we are not alone.

Chris Carter said...

So I immediately thought the dream was very much the same as you- in that you were feeling the grief and others wanted to protect you from that pain...

But what I love most about that vision is two-fold: First of all the others who came behind you...

Those are all the people (countless) who you have led through their own grief process by your voice and your book. They are learning from you, how to grieve their loss wholly and fully because you are teaching them how- still, even with this post.


You're not muddy. You are drenched in crystal clear water... pure. Holy. The truest form of God I can think of, really. You are submerged in Him.

Just my first impressions!!

I don't think of you as a 'grief' writer or a 'life blogger'. I think of you as an inspirational writer/blogger. That encompasses it all!

Mel said...

I enjoy reading whatever you have to write Anna. I found this blog the day after Jack passed and have immersed myself in all of your writing, including those posts when Jack was still alive. Your style of writing is beautiful, heartfelt and full of wit (when neeeded). I really feel as though I know you like a personal friend and I don't know where this blog will go but I will be with you along each step of the way!

Unknown said...

Yes. I want to shout yes. I can understand this.

Grief, life, fleece-lined tights... Write wherever your heart takes you.

Jerry said...

I just finished your book. I shared it at my church with about fifty women as I was talking about Faith and adversity. Loved the book, and loved the insight and determination to live well despite earthly trials it gave me. You are a beautiful person and writer! I adore everything you say, and come to your blog often. Thank you so much , you have changed people's lives through your own walk through sorrow. I know you and Jack will have that beautiful reuntion someday and he will be so proud of his mom.

Unknown said...

You are a life blogger. Your words are so very full of life and light and hope, even when you need to write about death.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Your always an inspiration to me. God choose you to share your grief because you are an amazing writer who can inspire everyone with your words.