22: The Power of the Mind

22: The Power of the Mind

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

The Power of the Mind

There are three things we cry for in life: things that are lost, things that are found, and things that are magnificent.

~Douglas Coupland

Aunt Nancy, now in her mid-eighties, has always been that unique, creative, thoughtful aunt who took me “good-deal shopping,” hid silver coins for me to find in the back seat of her car, and made photo books documenting my childhood in Maine. A now-retired art teacher, she came up with a clever way to share my grandmother’s vintage charm bracelet, which jingled with Victorian-inspired, silhouette cameos. Nancy decided to share a cameo with each of her five nieces, so that each of us could enjoy the memory.

I watched as cousins made their charms into necklaces and displayed them in memory boxes. However, I never received mine. Nancy insisted that she gave it to me while on holiday in Florida, but I didn’t remember.

I moved to Atlanta for college in 1990, graduated in 1994, married in 1996, and moved into my first home in 1997. All those years, the mystery of the cameo was a source of contention when it crept into conversations between my aunt and me. She steadfastly insisted that she gave it to me, and I just as resolutely avowed that I’d never received it. This was a stalemate that would last for nearly two decades.

Then, in 2008, I had a vivid dream.

I was at the checkout in a local Walmart store. I looked down at the slender finger of the cashier and noticed her unique ring. Recognition flooded my dream mind. The ring was set with the exact bronze-backed, white-silhouetted cameo that was on the antique charm bracelet my aunt had so carefully distributed to my cousins years ago. In the dream, I remarked to the cashier how beautiful the ring was and told her about my grandmother’s charm bracelet. The cashier stopped scanning my items and looked me so deeply in the eyes that it felt like her energy entered my bloodstream. She said, “This was my grandmother’s charm, too. I had a friend make it into a ring after I found it in her garage.”

The next morning, I told my family about the dream over breakfast and went about my day. We were packing to move and going through very old boxes in the garage. After opening and re-sealing boxes for hours, I was about to quit for the day when I opened a bin full of shoeboxes. I opened one of them, fully aware of the potential rabbit hole I was entering, and found a host of saved letters and cards. Ah, I thought. This was a box that I recovered from Mom and Dad’s house . . .

I opened a letter from my beloved grandmother, Mildred, and read her familiar handwriting with a nostalgic smile. I opened and read a handful of greeting cards that I had saved. And then, at the bottom of this box of cards and letters, I found a large unopened yellow envelope. My name was written on it in Aunt Nancy’s handwriting. I opened this envelope and carefully unwrapped the letter, which described the significance of the gift enclosed. This letter held, in its protective grasp, a tiny baggy containing a gift: the cameo!

Nancy was right — she gave me the cameo, but in a sealed envelope that I never opened. It lay in my garage for years. I have never been one to put much faith in the magical power of dreams, but I will always wonder about this dream. Did it plumb the deepest recesses of my memory? Did my subconscious mind know that Aunt Nancy had given me an envelope that I never opened, that got mixed up with all the cards and letters that I did open that ended up in that box? However it happened, I have new respect for the way that dreams can guide us through our lives.

~Heidi Campbell

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