76: The Visit

76: The Visit

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

The Visit

Just a thin veil between this world and that world of beauty and love. Just a thin veil that hides the view of our Spirit loved ones above.

~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

On Christmas Eve, Dad struggled a bit while holding the front door open to welcome us, his smile half-hearted after months spent mourning Mom. With each hug from me, my husband, and the kids, his melancholy seemed to lift. We followed him into the familiar living room, and it immediately struck me that the traditional decorations Mom always loved to display were nowhere in sight. My throat tightened.

My two sisters and their families were already sharing the latest family gossip over Dad’s blaring television set. After Dad got himself settled back into his well-worn easy chair, everyone milled around sipping the rich eggnog Trish served. The aroma of Kelli’s cookies baking made my stomach rumble, and I hurried to get my version of the Christmas chili simmering on the stove the way Mom always had. We, each in our own way, rallied to reproduce Mom’s epic Christmas cheer, but trying to recreate our past merriment without Mom was exhausting. We all ended up going to bed early.

I’d been sound asleep for most of the night when I looked up to see my mother, as real as though she were alive, hovering above me. I was filled with love, peace, and joy.

Mom wore a flowing robe with colors streaming away from her center. White clouds hovered around her, filled with what seemed to be a galaxy of beings. Floating among them, I basked in their affection. Harmony and wellbeing enveloped me. I was no longer aware of my physical body. I wanted it to last forever.

Still tingling with awe, I was confused when I saw a regular ceiling above me. I felt the firm mattress beneath me and realized I was lying in bed, dawn’s light edging through the bedroom window. Beside me, my husband slept, unaware of my incredible epiphany.

I closed my eyes, yearning, almost aching to continue the encounter. Instead, I lay awake, savoring my new serenity, then watching through the gap in the curtains as yellow and pink rays strengthened into daylight.

As soon as I heard my sisters awaken, I hurried to tell them about Mom’s visit. Trying to use mere words to describe something incomprehensible, I finally stopped talking and took a breath.

Kelli, my younger sister, said, “Well, here’s what happened to me last night. I dreamed I was back in our old church, watching the memorial lamp flicker. Didn’t the pastor tell us it would stay lit forever to honor our departed loved ones?”

“Yes, I remember him saying that,” I said.

“Well, in my dream I was so worried the light would go out, I started to cry. I kept sobbing, almost getting hysterical, shouting over and over in the empty church, ‘Who will keep the lamp lit? How can it work?’ Standing there so upset, I heard Mom’s voice. She said, ‘You will be okay. All will be well. Everything will go on.’ I remember I wanted more. I wanted to see her, to hug her. Instead, there was a special silence, like she knew I would believe her. And I did.”

Glancing from Trish to me, Kelli added, “Then all of a sudden, I realized I was in the bed facing Gary, and I knew Mom was standing behind me. I felt her rubbing my shoulder, like she always did. And . . . that’s all I remember.”

We stared at each other for a second, until Trish, my older sister, took a deep breath and released it with a light “whew.” Then she said, “Oh, my gosh. Wait ’til you hear!”

“Last night, a pressure, like when someone sits on the bed, woke me up. It felt so normal, I wasn’t worried or scared. And there was Mom, sitting on the side of my bed with a small suitcase on the floor beside her. She was happy, very serene, and said, ‘Dear, dear Trish, always my little worrywart. There is nothing at all for you to worry about . . . but I have to go now.’ She smiled, as if she knew I would understand. And I did.”

I found it hard to breathe, and felt goose bumps up and down my arms. I started to say, “So, we all . . .”

“Yeah, I wasn’t accepting Mom’s death. Seeing her last night, well, I’m okay now. I get it,” Trish said.

Kelli said, “I’ve been missing her so much, wondering how I can get through life without her. It seemed so unfair. Now I know for sure she’s always going to be with me.”

Each time I recall Mom’s visit, decades ago, I marvel at the gift of faith I received that Christmas Eve. Mom’s visit woke me up spiritually. Where before I doubted, I now believe. Where before I was drifting, I now have a life filled with purpose and meaning.

All I have to do is close my eyes to remember that night. And, eyes wide open, I am filled with gratitude for life on this earth and for Mom’s visit, which showed me the glimpse of eternity that changed my life forever.

~Wendy Keppley

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