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Sugar Cookies and a Nightmare

How My Daughter's Death Taught Me
The Meaning of Life


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On the last night of the workshop, after I put Michel to bed, I went into the living room and flopped down on the sofa. I had to get through this. I could never be there for Michel in this condition. I couldn't even fake it anymore.

Big Barney kept nudging me with his nose, but I didn't have the energy to pet him. He may have been trying to cheer me, but soon he gave up and slumped down beside me, his head on my lap. This made me think of the last time I held you.

I only felt sadder. I stared at a candle and tried to listen to music. But nothing was distracting me. How could I ever know if you were okay? At that moment, your picture fell off the bookshelf, shattering the stillness of the room. What a jolt that was! What was it, if it wasn't you — impatient with me for not accepting that you were at peace? Was I right? You really are okay, aren't you?

A few months later when I was on a rafting trip with friends going down the Salmon River in Idaho, I had a dream of you that struck me as so vivid, it was more like a vision than a dream. I learned later that events like this during sleep are not uncommon after the death of a loved one. Jung calls them "visitation dreams." Up until this point, friends had told me about their dreams of you, yet I had had none. I only had nightmares. I envied them and thought it strange that they would dream of you, but I as your mother would not.

These friends and I had rafted many times together on the Rogue River in Oregon. I always enjoyed these times with them because rafting was not only exciting but peaceful and relaxing as well. I was hoping for a reprieve from my grief, so the timing felt right. After several days on the river, I felt lulled into a peaceful meditative state. There were times that we would be quietly floating on the water, calm and silent except for the sounds of the canyon wrens and an occasional splash of an oar. At other times we would be alert and challenged by difficult rapids that grabbed our raft and threw us about chaotically. At night we would sit around a campfire sharing our thoughts of the day and the river. For the first time since your death, I was relaxed, enjoying good friends, good conversation, and moments of silence when we were each alone with our thoughts.

The dream I had after one of these evenings was of our home in Ashland. Kristen, you and I were sitting at our dining room table. I was helping you with your addition, and you asked me, "Mommy, are 'plus' and 'and' the same thing?"

I answered, "Yes, Krissie, but I think it's time for a hug." You got out of your chair and came around the table to sit in my lap. You put your arms around me, and I held you tight. This moment felt so real. I could smell your hair and feel your cheek on mine. I was conscious of your soft skin and your little arms around my neck, pulling on the back of my hair. I don't remember exchanging words, only the strong presence of you. So many times I had prayed to hold you once again, and in this dream, I felt I had. I didn't want to let go. I wanted to melt into you and hold on to you forever.

The next morning when I joined my friends, they commented that I looked different. They said I appeared to be peaceful and transformed, as if something significant had happened. I assured them they were right and shared my visit with you. Thank you for that, Krissie.

I love you so much, little Woo Bug,


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