75: And This Is for Renee

75: And This Is for Renee

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

And This Is for Renee

One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.

~William Feather

I was sitting at my desk when I got the call informing me that Renee had died. No, I remember thinking. It’s a mistake, or a prank, or an outright ugly lie.

The company made the official announcement and scheduled a grief counselor. I distracted myself by running reports no one would ever read, but it didn’t work. Memories of my beautiful friend filled my thoughts. The next night, I had my first dream about her.

I didn’t realize it was a dream at first. We were relaxing at a table overlooking the beach and the ocean. I should have guessed it was a dream because the beach was empty, and the ocean was bluer than I’ve ever seen it in real life. The sun was shining, but not too hot. The breeze was refreshing, but not too chilly or windy.

I have no idea if we were at a restaurant or someone’s home. It was just Renee and me sitting at an umbrella table on a balcony overlooking this perfectly tranquil setting. We were both drinking vibrant colored tropical drinks — the kind Renee could be seen holding up in dozens of photos on her social media channels. Strange, since I don’t drink.

We were having a lively conversation. I have no idea now what we could have been talking about, but in the dream we were really connecting. It was one of those “Oh, I know! Me, too!” conversations where you’re not only learning more about the other person, but about yourself as well.

Then, suddenly, Renee turned to me and said, “I have no fear of death.”

Even in the dream, it was a striking statement.

I remember replying, “That’s great, Renee.”

She smiled her big smile and said, “I know exactly where I’m going.”

After that, I only remember us laughing, like we were young and silly.

I woke up then, a little disoriented, thinking I would have to call Renee and tell her she’d been in my dream. As I got out of bed, I thought, Weird. I think I had a different dream that Renee died. I won’t tell her about that one. By the time I made it into the office, I realized the truth: Renee had died. She really was gone.

Over the next week, details trickled in. She’d died of something extremely rare, and I knew it was also incredibly painful. She’d been texting and e-mailing even while at the hospital, trying to make sure everyone else was okay. Then suddenly, she stopped communicating, and some of her team went to the hospital to check on her, but she was already gone.

Renee was one of those people whom everyone liked. Her way of being herself was effortless and unforced. She didn’t try to make everyone like her; everyone just did. She laughed all the time at whatever she thought was funny. She was so open and engaging, so accepting of everyone. Her parties were legendary. She loved music, especially dance and house music. Many couples met at one of Renee’s parties. She brought together so many new friends through her love of dogs, music, and people.

Her sister held her memorial at a beautiful banquet room in the mountains high above the city. I debated over and over if I should go. I don’t need to go to prove my love for her, I argued with myself. The truth was that I didn’t want to cry in front of my co-workers. I was afraid that if I started crying, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

I put on a black dress and heels and trekked up the mountain. I was upset because we’d always planned to go to the Sunday brunch they held at this place — outdoors, overlooking the city, an easy champagne brunch. It sounded wonderful, but our plans never came together. She’d started attending services at a church near her home and really liked it. She told me how she really respected the pastor and felt so accepted and supported there. I was happy for her, but didn’t feel that I could ever find such a place.

At the memorial, everyone talked about how they met Renee at a party or at a club and how she’d introduced them to so many new friends. Then they played the song that her friend had written for her. He was a deejay and songwriter, and in his grief he wrote a song to express his sadness at her sudden passing. “Make some good and pass it on . . .” It so perfectly described Renee. Then the lyric came, “. . . And this is for Renee . . .” and several people broke down in tears. I bit my lip hard and ignored the sobbing girl next to me until I knew that I could hold it together and not cry. I vowed to never go to the Sunday brunch there as I would never get to go with Renee.

That night I had the second dream. I found myself in a massive lounge. The place was as big as a football stadium. It makes no sense at all, but in dreamtime it seemed perfectly normal. Huge chandeliers cast soft light all around. The place was filled with people chatting over the sounds of music and clinking glasses.

I stood with Renee in a little group. I was talking with a woman whom I thought I knew, but couldn’t quite place. Again, we were really connecting, and then suddenly I realized she was my father’s mother. My grandmother had been dead since the 1970s, and I’d never known her as a younger woman, but here she was talking with me. I looked over at Renee, who was talking with someone else, and she smiled at me in her comforting way.

I turned back to the woman and said, “I think you’re my father’s mother.”

She replied, “Well, of course I am, my dear.”

I glanced around the room and realized that everyone around me was dead. In a panic, I pulled Renee away from her conversation and said, “Renee, everyone here is dead!”

Renee laughed and said, “Yeah, girl!”

We both glanced around the room again, and then she smiled and said, “And it’s all okay.”

That’s the last I saw of my friend. She was dressed beautifully in a sleek cocktail gown. Her hair was done up so fashionably, with some kind of crystals sprinkled in. Her eyes were bright, her skin was glowing, and her toothy grin was dazzling.

Now her picture hangs above my desk, and that song plays in my head. Make some good and pass it on. I miss her so much, and I hold onto what she last said to me in that dream: It’s all okay.

As I move through my days, I promise to laugh more, to not judge, to not take myself so seriously. To be more like Renee.

~GD Carey

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