My husband called from the living room telling me he’d be right back while I was in the children’s bedroom sitting on the floor. I heard the footsteps trotting briskly up the steps to the front door, the screen door slammed, and the hurried walker burst into the bedroom, breathless and flushed from the crisp autumn air. I could smell the cold on her as she came and sat in front of me smiling happily, hair wind-blown but evenly picked out to show the perfect amount of greying dark brown curl.
My heart caught in my chest.
“Oh! You’re here. Is it really you?” Incredulous, I squeezed her lovely soft arms through the off-white cable-knit Aran sweater she was wearing.
“Yes, yes. It’s me. I’m really here. I can’t believe you took those trips so close together!” She exclaimed proudly as I drew her in close. It was really her. I could smell her skin, her hair, the cold on her cheeks. I could feel her tiny frame as I pulled her close and hugged her tightly whispering, “I’ve missed you so much.”
I hugged her so long I missed her face and drew back to look at it again, but she was gone. Drowning in sorrow, I reached toward the empty space; the groaning cry dragged me awake into a half-sitting position in the bed. My choking sobs woke my husband, and I could do nothing but babble incomprehensibly that my mom had been there. I had felt her. She was there, I had asked her if she were real, I HAD HELD HER!
Mom died nearly ten years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. But, in all that time I have dreamed of her only twice. Once, as I saw her walking down our favorite road, knobbly trees creating a canopy overhead. I saw her only in my rearview mirror, but she was happy and smiling. The next time, I had a dream that some random stranger had been using a pocket notebook he found and he asked me to see his notes. I turned it over, and it was her writing – it had been hers, and in it, she had written a message for me. Never once have I spoken to her, never once have I been able to wrap my arms around her tiny frame and feel her comforting presence.
I know that God works in ways we can not understand, but I needed her this week. I needed to see her, to talk to her, to feel her. God is the great comforter, why wouldn’t he use a dream, I wondered. As I sat in church today and listened to the pastor talk about God’s goodness, I thought of my dream of Mom and the poem she hung in the bathroom:
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene, He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.
This really bothered Him, and He questioned the LORD about it. LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.
The LORD replied, my precious, precious child, I Love you, and I would never leave you! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
Carolyn Carty, 1963
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.