Nate and I had just begun talking about trying for our second child about two months before our trip to West Hollywood and Las Vegas. I actually got off birth control about a month before that trip…The trip that would ultimately be the last trip we ever took together.
For more then two months after he passed away, I thought I might be pregnant. I felt a mixture of hope and dread the entire time…I even refused to take a pregnancy test because I neither wanted to confirm the hope that I was pregnant with my deceased husband’s child, nor discover that it was in fact just an empty dream. Those two emotions waged war with one another for those two months…Wanting desperately to have a part of him, still a part of me…and then terror at the idea of doing it all again, alone.
The truth eventually revealed itself. I wasn’t pregnant. The stress, the lack of sleep, the damage I did on my body those two months after he died, all had an effect on my cycle. I could almost hear Nate’s voice of reason shouting at me, “how could you hope for something like that when you have a life to figure out!” He was always the rational one after all…Yet I found myself destroyed not only realizing I would never again mother one of Nate’s children, but also realizing the fact that I might never be pregnant again in general…That quite possibly my dream of having more children died with him…an emotional battle I still face. I always wanted more kids, and the truth is, I still do.
The day I realized that I wasn’t pregnant, I also took Ian to a fall festival with my parents. I saw families together. Fathers playing with their children, pregnant mothers…it took everything to keep myself together that day, and I ended up crying my eyes out the entire drive home as Ian slept in the back seat, and then all night. I remember sobbing to my dad, begging him to explain that if there was something after death, why Nate hadn’t shown me any sign he was still with us…
I think that might have been the day the battle with my faith truly began.
Two nights later, I dreamed about Nate. And it was unlike any dream I ever had. It is difficult to put into words how much that dream meant to me at that moment…Because I didn’t just dream about him…I felt him. I smelled him. I heard him, even though he never spoke. He held me until I woke up…And when I did wake up, I did so with an overwhelming sense of peace. Those tears from the night before dried…
I’ve only had one other dream like that, and it occurred after I received his autopsy report. I was destroyed by the report, feeling so much guilt that I didn’t know that my husband was so sick. In the dream that night, he simply laid in bed with me with his hand over his heart…Again, he didn’t say anything yet it was almost like I could hear him tell me “even I didn’t know”. I woke up the next morning once again with a similiar sense of peace.
Ian has had several experiences as well. Two dreams in particular over the past 19 months where he woke up crying for Nate, telling me how daddy had came down and laid with him in bed. He said he didn’t talk, but that he just laid with him until he had to go again. There’s also been moments, especially in the beginning, when Ian would disappear downstairs to play with toys, and then come back up a bit later and randomly tell me he had just gotten done playing golf with Nate.
I’ve also had different kinds of moments… And he’d probably roll his eyes at my honesty about a moment in particular that I am about to describe…
Nate always made me feel beautiful. Always…Even after being very pregnant with his child and after a cesarean section, he always looked at my body with love and admiration…But I was always so self-conscious. I remember stepping out of the shower and shouting at him “don’t look at me naked!” to which he would always reply with something cheesy to make me feel beautiful in my own skin…My self-consciousness became an inside joke between the two of us. He would jump out of the shower and moon me while shouting those same exact words, making me crack up laughing. He always knew how to make me smile despite my ridiculous insecurities.
Well, one day in particular a few months after he died, I had just got done exercising and a song came on that made me think about him. I cried my eyes out as I finished my workout then later stripped down to take a shower. I remember balling as I shouted at Nate, all alone in the bathroom, “you better not be taking this as an opportunity to look at me naked!” Well, I shit you not, the lights in the bathroom went out for a few seconds and then came back on. They had never done that before and they haven’t ever done that again.
There’s really only been a handful of moments like that the past 19 months, but each one has made my heart soar. While I have only had two dreams as real and vivid as the ones I just described, I know those other moments aren’t just due to irony or coincidence…
A song that comes on at just the right time, a breeze when I’m indoors longing for him, lights flickering at just the right moment…I know many people will read this and think it is just me hoping that they are connected to Nate’s presence…But I often refer to a passage in “Confessions of a Mediocre Widow” by Catherine Tidd…She was explaining similar experiences after the death of her husband, and she said something along the lines of the fact that people don’t have to believe it’s real. What’s important is that I know it is.
I know our wedding song came on a random radio station we were playing as myself and Nate’s family ended our first work day on our house a few months after he died (they were helping me get it ready to sell). I know a lone Valentine’s Day card from Nate fell out of a flap of an empty box minutes after I sat all alone in our empty master bedroom crying my eyes out before leaving for the last time. I know I’ve heard the soft noise of his memorial wind chimes as I’ve cried myself to sleep in the silence of the basement. I know in those two dreams I described that they weren’t of him but rather with him. I know it and I feel it to my core.
As I shared in an earlier post, I’ve had an uphill battle with my faith since the moment I walked into that emergency room 19 months ago. Yet, in the same breath, I feel like I’m stronger, spiritually. I pay more attention to moments, and I feel more connected to my surroundings and to my loved ones…I believe now more than ever that there is something after death. And because of this deep sense of spirituality, I notice bit by bit, my faith is also being strengthened. The truth is, I believe that love connects us, and that connection, even in death, cannot be destroyed. Those two vivid dreams I had with Nate along with the little moments that I am certain I felt him, occur during my lowest moments…Almost as though he feels a part of the pain I’m feeling and knows I need a little reassurance or just to remind me that he’s still there.
Like I said, I truly believe love connects us. Even though we aren’t able to see loved ones once they pass, I believe if we pay enough attention and keep our hearts open to that love, they continue to shine their light on us as much as they can…or maybe as much as we need them to.