66: Just What I Needed

66: Just What I Needed

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Just What I Needed

I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge — myth is more potent than history — dreams are more powerful than facts — hope always triumphs over experience — laughter is the cure for grief — love is stronger than death.

~Robert Fulghum

My favorite movie as a child was The Wizard of Oz. There was something mysterious and thrilling about Dorothy’s dream of Oz. Was it possible to truly visit somewhere else in our dreams? Or was I simply a child who had way too much imagination?

When I was twenty-one and due to have my first baby, my father became gravely ill. It was a hard time for my family. And my good news was overshadowed by the harshness of life—my father’s impending death. My mother was having a difficult time accepting the situation and our relationship had not been smooth to begin with. With the added pressures of my father’s condition, we were not getting along.

My father passed away when I was in my sixth month of pregnancy. It was a very difficult time for me. Things had been so strained between my mother and I that at the end of his life I was not welcome to visit my father, who was unconscious more than conscious. I loved my father, and I knew he knew that. But I had wanted to talk with him just one more time. Not being able to do that nearly drove me over the edge.

However, life goes on and my beautiful baby girl was born on a hot day in August. Motherhood was a great balm for my grief and I poured all my love into my precious little girl. The days went by quickly. Nevertheless, it was the nights, when all would be quiet, that I allowed myself to wallow in my grief. I still held onto my irrational hope of having one last conversation with my father.

One night as usual, my husband and I went to bed after the baby, who was already eight months old. My husband fell asleep while I stayed awake thinking. I started reviewing all the events leading up to my father’s death, and I cried myself to sleep.

Then I began to dream. I was in a gray place. All around me I saw shadows of people walking past. Then my father came out of the shadows. He didn’t look gray. In fact he looked good. When he approached me, he was smiling and held out a hand to me.

I automatically took it and blurted out, “I can’t believe this is happening. I don’t feel like this is a dream. You seem so real.”

He smiled and said calmly, “For now this is real. And we have to talk. It’s very important.”

Amazed that his hand felt real and warm, I couldn’t contain my excitement. “This is wonderful! You are real. I missed you so much. I don’t want to stop holding your hand!” I placed my other hand on top of our clasped hands. It felt wonderful.

“Amy,” he said seriously. “We need to talk. I don’t have much time and I have to tell you something.”

“Okay, go ahead.”

“I need you to know that everything is okay between us. There is no reason for you to be upset. I know you love me and I love you. It’s all okay. Everything that happened, I understand and it’s all okay. You don’t have to worry anymore. I love you.”

I was crying with relief and I clung to him saying over and over, “Thank you, thank you, I love you. I really do…”

Then he stood up, said he had to go and that I had to go back. I was angry and I wouldn’t let go of his hand. I told him I needed to stay with him a little longer. But he insisted we needed to part. He pulled his hand from mine and again told me he loved me. He disappeared into the many shadows walking past. I sobbed so hard that I woke up.

All of a sudden, my husband yelled out. “Oh my gosh, what was that? What was that?” He was pointing over my head. When I looked nothing was there.

He flipped on the light and I could see he was really shaken. He told me that something woke him and when he looked towards me, he saw a white light glowing over my head. Then it vanished. It really scared him.

I felt the most amazing peace. “Don’t worry,” I told my husband. “It was my father. Everything is okay now.” And it was.

~Amy Schoenfeld Hunt

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