It was either my pinched face or the audible sob that woke me from my dream about Nate. It had been so real I’d had trouble moving away from his dream-hug to the reality of being alone on a single mattress in Hans and Katy’s living room.
If we wake from a heart-pounding nightmare, comfort comes in thinking, “Whew! It was only a dream!”
This time, though, despite the mystery of Nate’s neutral response to me, I wanted to stay in it. Everything about my racing emotions believed I’d actually been in the same room with him.
Trying to savor the warmth of what felt like a supernatural embrace, I lay still for a long time. And because the clock read 3:21 AM, I knew I could go back to sleep and was hoping to re-enter the dream as successfully as Lucy re-entered Narnia. If I had more time, surely I could convince Nate to stay with me rather than turn and walk out that door. But of course my half-awake, half-asleep brain was tricking me.
The next thing I knew, 20 month old Nicholas was tugging on my blankets, encouraging me to get on my feet. It was morning, and Nate was gone.
All that day I thought about the dream in an effort to keep it alive. On the surface its meaning seemed obvious: (1) The crowd of people represented those who’ve gone ahead of us to be with the Lord, or in the case of Katy’s parents, those who eventually will do so; (2) My inability to secure Nate’s exclusive attention was the result of knowing marriage is non-existent in heaven. We’ll all be one big family, children of God and siblings of Jesus; (3) Nate’s serene appearance represented the perfect peace of our glorified existence.
That analysis may be accurate, but another version is that I simply miss my husband.
Widow friends tell me life will continue to be full of significant relationships and happy gatherings, but it’ll never be quite as good, because the “husband of my youth” will not be with me.
Six days later, I’m still pondering the dream, wondering if I ought to be learning something from it. I think back to the room full of people and wonder, “Was Jesus in that crowd?” If he was, I didn’t see him. As a matter of fact, my human longing for Nate was so strong, it hadn’t crossed my dreaming-mind to seek the Lord in that multitude. I was only and all about seeking Nate.
The significant meaning of the dream, I’ve come to realize, is that during times of sorrow over missing my husband, I ought to look away from him and look for Jesus instead. During these days of going back one year, I’ve been impacted by how dramatically present the Lord was throughout Nate’s six weeks of cancer and the months that followed.
So if I’ve learned anything through my dream, it’s that hanging onto a departed Nate will never be as satisfying as clinging to my still-present God.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done.” (Psalm 105:4-5a)