Anniversary Dreams

Almost to the moment, 50 years ago I gazed down the cavernous St. John the Baptist Cathedral aisle in Paterson, NJ, and watched a vision glide toward me. Forty years and 27 days later, I gazed down at a battered and bruised woman and watched her embark on her journey into eternity.

I’ve been pondering how I would deal with this anniversary — what would have been our 50th, our golden. While I celebrate the 40 years we had together, I am saddened by the almost 10 years I’ve had to navigate without Karen at my side. It’s been oh so bittersweet these past few months. I can’t help but reflect on the milestones we missed together — the graduations and weddings, the birth of three grandchildren and three great-granddaughters, the move to Maine, my retirement and publishing Heaven Shining Through. I’ve muddled through, but it’s just not the same.

Each year at this time I’ve shared anecdotes about our life together and the quality and value of that life, the ups and downs that spanned four decades in five states, the life we built together. But as I thought about something original to post this time around, the mind went blank. I’m spent. I can’t reach back and say anything new, anything at all. I can only stare at the bronze urn with you patiently waiting for me. There are some tears in my eyes — happy tears for the memories and sad tears for the separation.

I did, however, uncover a post from 2014 that probably serves more as a lesson. As I read it, the sequence of dreams vividly resurfaced. I remember them as if they were last night. With your permission {I’m going to do it anyway} I would like to share it with you again.

“We have to talk.”

Those are four words that bring sheer fear to every male on the planet — from the days of Adam, I suspect — to the present day. Even in a dream, those words bring chills to a sleepy spine.

Those were the words that literally haunted me after a dream about a month ago. I know they certainly contributed to my melancholic mood over the past few weeks.

It wasn’t a long dream. And, has generally been the case since Karen died, she was not visible. But her voice was very much there.

The scene unfolded in my parents’ home, which is odd because Karen and I never lived at my parents’ home. But I readily recognized the brocade styled beige carpet, the sectional and the louvered closet doors {although they were in the bedroom, not the living room … but, hey, it was a dream}.

All of a sudden, Karen’s voice clearly stated THE question. “We have to talk.”

With that I woke up, totally confused even after then nearly six years of widowerhood. It wasn’t a comment that came up often during our 40 years of marriage {although it did come up … generating the same sense of trepidation}.

Why after all these years did Karen utter these words? What was on her {my?} mind?

I immediately thought of the thousands of times I might have let her down during our marriage. I thought of the hurts and slights I can never make up for. And it weighed on my psyche.

What was even more disturbing was the abruptness of the dream. It came out of nowhere and it just ended without resolution. I just knew Karen and I had “to talk.”

A couple of weeks later, I had a series of subsequent dreams … each picking up where the last one left off. They were equally vivid … with the bonus of my dear wife appearing and interacting in dreamlife.

She was standing at the closet as she uttered her words again, “We have to talk.” She was dressed in camel brown slacks with stirrups and a pink and white check shirt as she reached into the closet. “Are you okay with this?”

“Of course,” I answered as the doorbell rang.

An unseen “counselor” stepped in and the three of us sat down, Karen and I on the couch and the counselor on the straight chair. She grabbed my hand as the counselor asked why he was here. Karen answered, “We just need to reconnect and I thought an outsider could help us.” I looked at her and shook my head in agreement.

“Okay, your assignment is to remember why you first fell in love.”

I woke up for a midnight run to the bathroom, but as I drifted back asleep we — the counselor, Karen and I — were sitting at the big, round wooden dining room table. I was the only one who spoke.

“I fell in love with you because you made me feel safe in a hostile world. I knew I could tell you anything and you weren’t going to judge me. You are beautiful, witty and wise. You are my life. I may not show it all the time but my world revolves around you. I would do anything for you.”

Karen broke into tears as the counselor interjected, “Good. Next assignment is to go out together, just the two of you, and just listen to each other. Karen, open your heart. Joe, open you heart. What has made you happy? What has bothered you? What are your dreams?”

And, I woke up.

Some people think marriage
is outmoded now,
And they don’t want to make
the commitments and vows.

The next night as I drifted to sleep, we were sitting at a table in a public place. I was holding her hand as she talked, but was more focused on her black cocktail dress, her sparkling brown eyes, the red highlights shining in her hair as the light hit it and the quirky expressions on her face as she spoke.

She asked me if I was listening. “Of course. You said you wanted to feel safe and you wanted me to listen to what you say. You wanted to feel important. You wanted to be loved, not taken advantage of. And you know I do love and respect you and your opinions.”

I woke up but thought to myself, “Nailed it!” Hey, it’s my dream.

The next night we were at dinner at a five-star restaurant. Our assignment was to order dinner for each other. Although I wanted to order Chateaubriand for Two, I ordered Karen an unending plate of Alaskan King Crab, then worried if I made the right decision since she was wearing a yellow sequined top and long black skirt — you know, butter splash. She ordered me a Prime Rib End Cut.

And I awoke, with the taste of that beef in my mouth.

But I just can’t see
 from their point of view,
And I know it’s because
of how much I love you —

A couple of nights later, it was back to dreamland. This time, we were talking to our counselor back at the house. He said to us, “You didn’t need me. You needed each other. You needed to remember why you fell in love. You needed to remember to take time for each other. You needed to remember how much you complemented each other, how your individual strengths helped your spouse’s weaknesses, how your vulnerabilities were covered by your spouse. You needed to get back to basics.”

With the strains of an instrumental version of I’ve Got You Under My Skin wafting into my consciousness, I awoke … and realized the dream sequences were a reflection of our life together. It’s bittersweet. This was supposed to be our time. The closest I am going to come to visiting with Karen is in my dreams.

I cherish each promise
that holds us together,
For you’re my life’s joy,
and you will be forever.

But at the same time, we enjoyed the time we had. We each gave 100% … and that’s what it takes. Marriage is not a 50-50 proposition, it’s 100-100 with some extra thrown in. It’s hard work but we survived … because “we had to talk!”

What Is Marriage?

Marriage is the beautiful blending
Of two lives, two loves
and two hearts —
It’s the wonderful, magical moment
When a beautiful love story starts.

Marriage is caring and sharing
From the moment you first say, “I do” —
It’s learning of life’s little troubles
And all of its happiness, too.

Marriage is respect for each other,
It’s a bond made in heaven above,
it’s finding the world
in each other —
It’s laughter …
it’s joy … it’s love.
G.W. Douglas

Happy Anniversary
With All My Love
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Forever

annivrsaryTHOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Live a life that ripples. Leave a positive piece of yourself with everyone you touch.


About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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5 Responses to Anniversary Dreams

  1. Del says:

    Oh my goodness. You’ve brought me to tears. What a tender heart towards your wife yesterday, today and always. And the dreams, Wow.. not much to say, but it is wonderful how The Lord uses them, even in the Bible to lead us, to guide us and in your case to bring clarity in your situation. My prayers are with you, especially on this special day. Blessings… Del


    • Thank you. Karen inspired and challenged me every day. When iI lost her I was floundering… until the sequence of dreams. That’s when I consciously realized she is always in my mind. My role these days is to share her inspiration with the world and do my best to nake sure any and every one knows she was here and made an impact. God bless.


  2. Poignant and beautifully written, Joe…


  3. Pingback: ‘Readin, ‘Ritin & “Rithmatic | Father Says…

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