73: Three Questions

73: Three Questions

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Three Questions

Grief is the price we pay for love.

~Queen Elizabeth II

The church is full because he was well-loved, and because his death is so shocking, so unexpected. My husband was only thirty-three.

I sit in the front row, an arm wrapped protectively around our four-year-old son. There’s a photo of my husband on our sailboat. David is grinning, tanned, handsome, full of life.

It seems so surreal. Just a few months ago, we were on our yacht with Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, shooting a scene for the movie Bird on a Wire.

Just a few weeks ago, my husband and I were planning the finishing touches on our dream home. It seemed that everything we touched turned to gold. We had started two successful businesses and had more prosperity than we had ever imagined. Even better, we had a healthy, adorable son. Life was great, and I’d never been happier.

But then, just a few days ago, my husband suddenly died. My attempts to revive him failed. The paramedics’ attempts to revive him failed. David was dead.

My whole world turned upside down. I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to put the pieces of my life back together again. I didn’t really care if I lived or died — except for our son. For his sake, I knew I must soldier on.

The funeral service came to a conclusion, and people lined up to comfort me. “You’re young. You’ll find another husband,” said one. I was outraged. I didn’t want another husband!

“You’ll get over it,” another person said. “It just takes time.”

Two years passed. I wasn’t “over it.” The foundation of my life had been swept away. I struggled to heal my grief. I tried therapy. I tried working out as if I were training for the Olympics. I tried attending church. I read dozens of self-help books. I poured myself into my work, and my first movie was produced. While I had moments of happiness, I lived in the bitter shadow of his death. I felt like a victim. I was robbed of my soul mate, and my son was robbed of his father.

Nothing helped until, on the second anniversary of David’s death, I had a dream. In this dream, my husband asked me three questions, and these questions changed my life.

In my dream, I meet my dead husband at the airport. We sit across from each other, and I unleash my fury. “How could you die beside me? How could you rip out my heart? How could you abandon me?”

I pound my fist on the cold, hard, cheap table, heedless of the faceless passersby, all heading purposefully somewhere else. My fury spent, my voice quavers as I confront him with his ultimate betrayal, “How could you leave our son without his father?”

Silently, compassionately, my husband listens to the outpourings of my raging heart. He does not take the baited hook, nor does he reach out to comfort me with his warm, strong hands. He reaches out to me the only way he can — in this dream.

“If you had it to do all over again, would you still marry me?” he asks.

I think for a moment, flooded with happy memories. Love shared, boats sailed, dreams achieved — together. I’d take my time with him, though it be short. “Yes, I’d still marry you,” I answer, a soft smile tugging at my lips.

“If you had it to do all over again, would you still have our son?”

This time, the answer is quicker. I wouldn’t give up our son for the world! He is the light of my life, my joy, my blessing. “Absolutely!” I reply without hesitation.

“Given those two answers, would you want to know that I would die young?”

I gasp. His question hangs in the air for a long moment. Would I choose to taint our joy with dread? I look into my heart, and after a long moment, discover the answer. “No.”

Peaceful acceptance washes over my rage and sorrow. I did not choose my fate. And yet — given a choice — I would choose it. Bitterness evaporates. I’m filled with gratitude for the time and love we shared.

Emily Brontë wrote in Wuthering Heights, “I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.”

This dream was like that. It altered the color of my mind. It changed the trajectory of my life. I stopped wasting energy resisting reality. Gratitude replaced grief. Empowered by my new perspective, problems melted away. Opportunities sprouted in their place.

Seemingly out of nowhere, I became part of the living once again (and I needed to because I had a son to raise!). I landed a job that allowed me to provide for my little family of two.

People began to marvel at the new spring in my step and the sparkle that was back in my eyes . . . and asked me what caused the dramatic shift.

I happily shared my dream with them, and before I knew it, I was sharing the dream with groups and in front of audiences.

I was encouraged to write about my experience in From Heartbreak to Happiness, which led to me founding the Grief Coach Academy in order to help others recover from loss more quickly than I had. Sharing this dream seemed to spontaneously shift people from misery to peaceful acceptance.

I’m profoundly grateful for the three powerful questions that miraculously reframed and released my grief, instantly replacing it with gratitude. I’m grateful every day that sharing this dream with others frequently works the same kind of miracle so they can return to living fully and achieving their dreams.

~Aurora Winter

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