The Dreamer

I had a dream last night. It was a pretty cool dream. At first, I’d hoped it would be a flying dream. Because I’ve always wanted to have a flying dream. I hear they’re great. But alas, I never get those.

Oh, I’ve had lots of falling dreams. And I’ve been eaten by lots of alligators. I’ve also frequently been found standing in front of my third-grade class wearing nothing but goosebumps. But flying? Never happens.

In the dream I saw you. You were tall, lanky, with auburn hair, wearing the same shirt you died in—blue with a green stripe. Your same shoes, too. Old school Nikes.

It was bizarre seeing you in such an outdated outfit. When you died, those clothes were the apex of high fashion. Today you look more like Forrest Gump.

I’d never been to a universe like the one in my dream. Where was I? There was nothing but grass and sky for miles. The pasture was rich ochre, the sky was French Ultramarine Blue. It was like a Monet, only without the haystacks.

I was starting to get the sense that wherever this place was it was more ancient than the young place I came from.

When you noticed me you didn’t do much. You didn’t even move. You just waited. But eventually you recognized me because you started waving. And it wasn’t a small wave, either. It was a big, huge, country-come-to-town wave.

I started jogging toward you. I immediately forgot about trying to play it cool. I was sprinting.

And mini flashbacks kept coming to me. Even in this virgin land of grass and sky, I still felt a twinge of pain when I thought of you. I was unprepared to feel pain here. The Gaithers never covered any of this in the manual.

I was remembering things like the time when I was a boy and I overheard the county deputy tell Mama that your body was unidentifiable because of the way you died, and how the county had to use your dental records to identify you.

Then, I remembered the family gathering in the living room to break the news of your death to everyone. And I remember my reaction. I wanted to run. I wanted to move my legs. It was purely an animal thing. I can’t explain it. I needed to fire up my quadriceps, and feel some cold air in my chest.

So I raced for the front door. I tossed up the latches. But my family pinned me down and kept saying, “Ssssshhhhhh,” like I’d suddenly become like a crazy person.

But I wasn’t crazy. I was just a little boy. Although the two aren’t so different.

But anyway, I got over you. I went on to live a full life without you. I missed you, sure. But many times I didn’t even think about you. I got married. Finished school. I had fun. I’ve been to Disney World twice. Dollywood once. I’ve had back surgery, a tonsilectomy, various colonoscopy exams, etc. Believe me, I get around.

But I’d pretty much given up on ever seeing you again. No offense. I still love you, but you’d become a piece of my imagination. Your face had disappeared and your voice had been wholly forgotten. Sometimes I even forgot the color of your eyes.

But in this dream it was like you never really died at all. Somehow I caught a glimpse of the life you’d been leading up here in the clouds. And I could tell that you had lived a rich, full life in this new place. Maybe even ten full lives. Fifty lives. Hundreds. I don’t know.

You were happy up here. Here you had your own place, lots of friends, hobbies, weekly choir practice, all-you-can-eat catfish, endless sunshine, a backyard as big as a continent, wild horses, free-range dinosaurs, mastodons, no cable TV news, limitless Snickers bars, and of course, Elvis lived right up the street.

I don’t know how I knew all this, but somehow I did. That’s how dreams work, I guess.

I don’t mean to get melodramatic here, but when I finally reached your arms, you wrapped them around me and it was the best feeling ever. You held me the way you used to do when I was your boy.

I felt the same emotions I had that one time I turned a double play on first base. You threw your hat onto the ground, kicked your leg in the air, and shouted, “Weeeeeeee doggy!” just like Jed Clampett.

Or the time we hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail together and stood on an overlook to see an infinity of pine-covered mountains. You started singing a song from “Oklahoma” like a big goofball.

My dream felt just like those times.

You squeezed me until my back hurt. And I squeezed harder. All of a sudden I could smell your hair. And the scent from your shirt. I saw the color of your eyes. The dimple in your chin that you never could quite shave. The skin tag on your left eyelid. The coarse texture of your hair. You came back to me. I remembered every centimeter of you.

Then you wiped tears from my eyes, took my hand and, without waiting for me to speak, we leapt straight upward into the air. Like birds. Like two sparrows who had both been through a lot, but still survived.

And I had my first flying dream.

39 comments

  1. Margaret E Odell - October 23, 2020 8:50 am

    God bless you. I pray you keep flying!

    Reply
  2. Betty - October 23, 2020 9:41 am

    My mom and dad are out standing in the field with your dad. My dad once carved his own fiddle from a walnut tree that fell in his pasture. Maybe they can form a choir to sing and play “Oklahoma,” or my mom’s favorite “I’ll fly away”.

    Reply
  3. Deborah L Blount - October 23, 2020 9:53 am

    What a beautiful dream! I am so happy for you. It sounds as though it was a healing dream. I love those.

    Reply
  4. Sharon Brock - October 23, 2020 10:19 am

    Awww. Sean, he is at peace now.

    Reply
  5. Margo - October 23, 2020 11:28 am

    You saw heaven. Your “dream” was exactly how I imagine it. I truly believe you were with your dad who always has loved you in heaven. Believe.

    Reply
  6. Marilyn - October 23, 2020 11:33 am

    My loved one could not walk the last months of his life, but in the days after his passing, he appeared in my dreams, always standing and walking like a healthy young man. The peace that gave me is beyond words anyone may have said to me. You have had your dream of flying with your father. May it give you a full measure of peace, Sean. Thank you for sharing…

    Reply
  7. pond crane - October 23, 2020 11:35 am

    finally:))

    Reply
  8. Karen Irby - October 23, 2020 12:06 pm

    Oh, Sean, you really got me with this one! When my Daddy passed away I was holding his hand and I said to him, in my mind, “Oh Daddy, I wish I could see what you are seeing right now!” I immediately had a “vision” of him with his hand reaching up and a hand reaching down to his. He was lifted up and then I saw him begin to leap and dance with joy before his God! My Daddy was a quiet man, and not at all demonstrative, so to see him so free, so full of joy, was everything to me. I’ll hold on to that precious gift until I’m reunited with him someday. I’m so glad you had your precious gift. I truly believe it came from our gracious Father who loves us and gives us such wonderful experiences! Thanks for sharing this with all of us. Love you!

    Reply
  9. E. Ann Padgett - October 23, 2020 12:10 pm

    Beautiful, Sean. I’m glad for you. Such dreams are gold.

    Reply
  10. Dee Thompson - October 23, 2020 12:23 pm

    Sounds like a happy dream to me! I lost my mom to Covid last summer but she is with me in dreams a lot. I know she is young and healthy and at peace, and with my dad and her parents. Heaven is the absence of all pain and the feeling of pure love. I hope you have many more wonderful dreams of your dad, Sean. I know how healing those dreams can be.

    Reply
  11. Susan Wold - October 23, 2020 12:26 pm

    My grandma came to me in a dream wearing turquoise pants that I have long forgotten. She came as my younger grandma, before alzheimer took her. I was having a tough time in life and in my dream I was sitting on the floor next to my bed crying. She came in and got down on the floor and sat with me. I don’t remember her mouth moving but heard or felt her say “everything is going to be alright”…and she was right. Recently my mom read an old book, put together by Marlo Thomas, with writings by different famous people telling about an important time in their life. Before throwing the book away she pulled out the page written by Paul McCartney to give to me, because I’m a huge Beatles fan. Paul wrote about how he was going though a rough time as the Beatles were coming to an end. He missed his mom, as I imagine she was a comfort during hard times. He dreamt that his mother Mary came to him in a dream and said “Let it Be,” which is now a special song to me. In the dream he too saw every detail of her face. Thank you Sean for sharing.

    Reply
  12. Robert M Brenner - October 23, 2020 12:41 pm

    I’m glad you had your “Flying Dream”! It was a special time getting to read about it…🙏

    Reply
  13. Mary Collier - October 23, 2020 12:41 pm

    Ok, ok. I have enjoyed every column and identified with much of what you write…but this letter today hit me in the feels. What a glorious dream! I hope your experience flying with your dad over those verdant fields helps to soften the memory and pain of your dad’s suicide. (And the article about biscuits was cathartic for me, too.) 👍😎

    Reply
  14. Jane - October 23, 2020 12:55 pm

    Yes. Thanks

    Reply
  15. Becki McCallum - October 23, 2020 1:00 pm

    Wonderful! I’m so happy for you to get a vivid memory with a flying experience added! It is a treasure to remember.

    Reply
  16. willybearden - October 23, 2020 1:03 pm

    Thank you. I needed to hear that today. And, thank you for speaking for so many of us. Willy

    Reply
  17. vwaters9@icloud.com - October 23, 2020 1:05 pm

    I think this was the best one yet. Thank you. Mama approves.

    Reply
  18. Jan - October 23, 2020 1:17 pm

    Oh so beautiful! I not only read the words, I saw the picture in living color and live action. It makes me so happy for us all. So thankful for you and your precious stories!

    Reply
  19. Paul Alge Moore - October 23, 2020 1:18 pm

    Hey Sean. I say this sincerely. You need a child

    Reply
  20. STEVE MOORE WATKINS - October 23, 2020 1:53 pm

    Dreams are much more “real” than waking life. Just saying…

    Reply
  21. Helen Taylor Andrews - October 23, 2020 2:01 pm

    Sean, this is one of those OMG…OH MY GOD stories. I’ve dreamed of being with my parents and they were younger, not old and infirm. I woke happy to have visited them even if it was only a dream.
    Your talent never fails to amaze me and this one…OMG…I’ll be thinking of this one for days.
    Love you and Jamie so much and miss you both,
    Helen

    Reply
  22. Lana Jones Barbaree - October 23, 2020 2:26 pm

    Brings to mind the hymn ” We’ll fly away”.

    Reply
  23. elliemac3 - October 23, 2020 3:08 pm

    Beautiful. Probably very likely what will be reality one day and no longer a dream!

    Reply
  24. allisvant - October 23, 2020 3:33 pm

    What a cathartic dream for you! you needed to have your dad hold you & reassure you of his love, for the way he died must have left you with at least a little doubt….and probably a little guilt (suicides almost always do that to those left behind); I have noted before in prior comments the many similarities in our lives, but my father dying suddenly with a heart attack when I was 8 still left me with some of the same feelings that you noted and that you had to deal with; so, in effect you blog today had a cathartic effect on me. Thanks for bearing your soul – as you do very frequently in your writings, and that being the reason so many people love you.

    Reply
  25. Ken Pounds - October 23, 2020 4:30 pm

    Thanks Sean. From someone missing their Dad!

    Reply
  26. popdawgyhotmailcomTommy - October 23, 2020 4:48 pm

    My dreams of my dad, i never see his face. I’m just in the same place with him, and we’re farming together again. Once i dreamed he had had another silo built and i was up in it. Seems the main thing i mess is asking him about old days, ppl, etc.

    Reply
  27. Linda Moon - October 23, 2020 4:53 pm

    I’ve had lots of flying dreams. When I was a kid, my father had a nickname for me. Forty years after his death my son, who never knew his grandfather, sent me a one-word text. It was my nickname he’d never heard about. Flying dreams with fathers and unexplained text with a special name from a beloved dad to his little girl ARE dramatic. I’m glad you get around, Sean, and told us about your dream!

    Reply
  28. MAM - October 23, 2020 7:36 pm

    This one opened the eye faucets. Neither of my parents died in a dramatic way., but I still miss them. They both passed alone in their sleep. One was ill with cancer and the other just didn’t wake up one morning at the age of 94. Which I hope will be the way I die.

    Reply
  29. Ann - October 23, 2020 8:06 pm

    You definitely needed that…❤️🤗

    Reply
  30. Christina - October 24, 2020 12:38 am

    That sounds like a dream come true after everything you’ve gone through… may the realness of such joy and peace carry you on.

    Reply
  31. Karen - October 24, 2020 11:29 am

    This is amazing! My dad passed five years ago. And while it wasn’t the same as your father’s passing, he was young, it was unexpected and it nearly destroyed me. Last week, I had my fourth dream since his passing. It was amazing, we just hung out all night and I woke up so happy and fulfilled. There is no flying but a wonderful dream nonetheless :))

    Reply
  32. Julia Blake - October 24, 2020 8:55 pm

    Love this!

    Reply
  33. Kathy Grey - October 24, 2020 10:34 pm

    Sean, what a wonderful dream! I wish I could have dreams like that of my parents. ❤️

    Reply
  34. suzlcahill - October 25, 2020 2:10 pm

    Our loved ones never leave us, they watch over us. They remind us of who they were, and how much they love us still. Beautiful writing, Sean.

    Reply
  35. Chasity Davis Ritter. - October 26, 2020 1:47 am

    I dream about my dad from time to time. But he’s always here it’s like a regular dream. No glimpse of heaven although I know that’s where he is. No deep insightful afterlife messages he’s just with me what ever is going on in the dream. Like he always was. Like he always will be. My dad has only been gone 2 years 1 month and 2 1/2 weeks though. I still remember everything about him and can hear his voice in the live pictures on my phone (I wish I’d thought to video tape him I have no idea why I didn’t). I’m glad you got this dream though. You got to feel and see and even smell him again. And Fly. Sending you love Sean… each and everyday. And I think your Dad sent you a little love from heaven too this week. Pretty cool dream

    Reply
  36. Lynn Reese - October 27, 2020 1:57 pm

    💟💜💟

    Reply
  37. Robert Chiles - October 28, 2020 4:12 pm

    There’s a technical word for this- a consolation. And you had one in this dream. Very real! As real as it gets.

    Reply
  38. Cynthia Woods - October 30, 2020 4:02 pm

    Just beautiful, Sean. I’m soooo happy for you. I believe it’s all this and more. My mother, father, only sister and husband (both died way too young) are there. Can’t wait for those “Welcome home” hugs. Oh, and to hug Jesus too! That will be Heaven! 💝

    Reply
  39. Chara Black - November 23, 2020 3:13 am

    I dream all the time. I’ve had alot of flying, falling, running, swimming dreams. Dreams about people Ive never met. I even dreamed a couple years ago that my mom died. A week later, my sister who was living in Florida (mom was there visiting) called me to tell me my mom was in hospital and Dr didn’t know if she was going to make it… My sister had woke up that morning to my mom laying on her coffe table with blood coming out of her nose. My mom had been bleeding internally and had no clue. She survived….Anyways, the best dream I have ever had was one about my Dad. He died in 2005. He was an alcoholic. At the time, it was just me and him. I was 26 yrs old. I took care of him. Oh, the stories I could tell!! I never really knew if he was ever baptized or not. He never went to church with us when i was growing up. After he died I was scared and wondered if he went to heaven. In my dream, it was the end of the world (I’ve had several of these dreams too). Well, angels were coming down from the clouds and they were coming to get their loved ones and take them to heaven. I was standing there just looking and waiting for my angel to come get me. I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and its my Dad smiling/laughing. He said “And you thought I didn’t go to heaven!!!” He came to get me and that was that… 💖

    Reply

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