86: Yes, I Believe

86: Yes, I Believe

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Yes, I Believe

Faith is a knowledge within the heart, beyond the reach of proof.

~Kahlil Gibran

“Mrs. Nichols, your father has taken a turn for the worse. We suggest that your family come to the hospital as soon as possible.” I made note of the time on our bedside clock: 5:30 a.m.

Just seconds before, I had woken from a dream both disturbing and comforting. I saw my father’s hospital bed, not in a sterile hospital room, but atop a grassy hill illuminated in early morning light. My husband, a resident physician, was positioned on one side of my father, who lay peacefully in the bed. Dave was listening to my father’s heart with his stethoscope. Opposite Dave was a handsome young man that I “identified” as my twin brother Frankie, who had died at age six in the polio epidemic. In my mind, Frankie had aged as if death had never snatched him away. I had imagined that face for many years. Both Dave and Frankie were dressed in green surgical scrubs but only Dave spoke to me: “Jan, it’s almost time.” I knew that my father’s death was imminent. I prayed that his death, when it came, would be merciful.

When we arrived at the hospital, we rushed to Dad’s room only to learn that he was not there. Returning to the nurse’s station, the charge nurse took us aside and announced that my father was already dead; she escorted us to a room down the hall where my father’s body had been placed for private viewing.

Though Dad’s death had been expected, his condition had remained stable as we kissed him goodnight the night before. I had expected to be prepared for his passing in much the same way that I had been forewarned of my twin’s death some twenty-five-plus years earlier. Though a dream had not preceded Frankie’s death, I had sensed his passing when my parents visited me at my paternal grandmother’s home, where I was staying while Frankie was hospitalized. When my parents attempted to avoid my question as to Frankie’s condition I had blurted out, without hesitation, that Frankie was dead. How did I know that? My parents continued to ask that question for the rest of their lives.

Since that event so long ago, I have had an unsettling dream, featuring the loved one who will soon die, each time I am about to lose someone close. It has never failed. There have been times when the person has not been ill, or at least not seriously ill, yet death has always occurred within a matter of hours or days.

Even as a little girl, I had reasoned that it was Frankie’s gift to me—a twin way of always preparing his birth partner for loss and sadness. Though the dreams have frightened me, I am thankful that I have never been unprepared. I was therefore certain that I would have a dream before Dad’s death, just not the dream that startled me on the morning of March 31st. I had actually prayed that my dream would be a less terrifying version of gloom, a dream that in the past had always featured a hooded figure with black cape. Had Frankie heard my plea? Can those who have crossed over anticipate our needs and intervene?

A few weeks later, my mother received mailed copies of my father’s death certificate. It was then that I saw the time of Dad’s death—5:30 a.m., immediately after my warning dream.

What am I to make of my dream or its timing?

Since my father’s death, I have recalled the dream and its possible significance many times. A few people have even suggested that I had been somehow teleported to my father’s bedside with my husband’s and twin’s faces and bodies superimposed on the faces and bodies of medical personnel. Though I readily acknowledge that I seem to possess some kind of sixth sense, I’m not ready to contemplate the concept of psychic transport.

I prefer thinking that it is just my twin’s way of softening the sadness and grief that always accompanies death. Frankie, if he is my heavenly messenger, could not have chosen a better way to prepare me. Both my husband and twin were there to provide comfort to Dad and me. Dave’s soft soothing voice was a voice that I not only recognized but one that I relied upon in times of trouble. The setting was not clinical, but pastoral. My father’s face was not the drawn face of a dying man, but the robust face that I had recognized my entire life. I like to think that Frankie was featured in my dream not only to comfort me, but to show me that Dad would not be alone as he crossed over. His only son would lead him to eternal life. He would be forever reunited with the son whom he had missed for so long.

Long ago, I came to believe that my twin would always be by my side even though my Earth eyes could not see him, that death cannot destroy the twin bond, and that those who have crossed over continue to provide care and comfort if we choose to believe in connections—even the power of such everyday occurrences as dreams.

Yes, I believe.

~Janice Flood Nichols

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