This is a first, at least that I can remember.  Last night as I was dreaming, I remember singing a song. It’s a song I’ve never heard, but as I sang it, I knew it well.  I was in church with a group of young men (I must have been in my 20s or 30s in the dream if I was their age).  There was this Pentecostal preacher kind of preaching a sermon, kind of on a recruiting mission to find someone to guest preach for him.  He was screaming and hollering, all caught up in the spirit. He was telling us how difficult it is to deliver a sermon that has emotional impact in just 20 minutes, but he was looking for one of us to try.  We had to try to make the congregation feel the emotion we were trying to convey simply by using our words.  I didn’t care for his style of preaching and noted how he used so much time and so many words, just setting things up before he got to his point. I would not make that mistake.

I was sitting on the very back row.  He came back to where a group of us were and began to point to candidates to stand up.  I was thinking “I can do it. I can share my pain in 20 minutes and get people to feel it.” So, I was hoping he would call on me.  But, when he pointed to me and asked me to stand, I felt doubt as I rose to my feet.  Did I really want to do this?

The ones he pointed to all stood and we began singing a song. I felt an intense angst. It was palpable, right in the center of my chest. I literally physically felt it sitting there.  It was the epitome of ambivalence.  I knew that I could never be happy as long as I lived in this world, but I was not ready to go to the next one. For now, I had to be here.  I was caught in between and it was ripping me apart.  As we rose to our feet, we formed a circle of hands like we do in church on Sundays when we sing the peace song.  We stood where we were and joined hands in a loop. I can’t remember the words to the song.  It was to the tune of Rag N Bone Man’s Innocent Man.  All I can remember is:

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

da da da, da da da… but it’s closer than you think.

da da da, da da da…. no matter how far you roam.

da, da da, da da da… but have you ever heard of Home?

His lyrics are:

It’s not my crime, so why do I have to pay?
I’m doing time, this feeling I can’t shake
I’m lost in the suffering for nothing
My heart don’t understand
It’s beating for an innocent man

Tonight is a rainy, stormy, night.  We know from one of Shayna’s essays that she enjoyed listening to thunder storms. It’s never been my thing, but a gentle rain hitting the roof does seem to put me into a deeper slumber and the deeper the better as far as I’m concerned.

When we head up to bed, the ceiling fan and the light are on in our bedroom.  I wake up several times during the night to the sound of the bluetooth speaker in our bathroom connecting and disconnecting from my phone.  It should not be doing that. I’m not using my phone and it’s in “Do Not Disturb” mode.

Just a few days ago we were talking to someone about signs from Shayna and I mentioned the ceiling fan and light had not been on in quite a while.  Well, that night, they were on again.  And tonight, they are are on for a second time.  I fall asleep easily and go into dream land.  Kayla has been having nightmares.  I almost never have nightmares. I have my second nightmare of the last couple of weeks.  But, then I go into a dream where I see Shayna. I’m at an amusement park.  I spot Shayna up ahead of me with a group of her friends. For the second dream in a row and the second dream this week, she is 15 year old Shayna. I can see every detail of her.  She has her short hair that she only had for a few weeks. I notice the curl pattern of her hair. She’s so caught up in talking to her friends I can’t get her attention. She’s now standing in line for a kids’ roller coaster, a Tilt-A-Whirl type ride. I get in line behind her still trying to get her attention.  Finally, she looks back at me.  She’s about 10-15 feet away. She nonchalantly says “Hi Daddy” and goes back to her conversation. i don’t want to interrupt her. I’m so excited to see her because I know she’s “dead”. I tell myself to keep calm so I don’t come out of the dream.  Maybe I’ll be able to talk to her after the ride is over. She gets in front car with one of her friends.  I’m several cars back sitting in a car with another kid.  All of the people on the ride are kids (When I wake up, I’ll remember they were all teenaged girls).  I’m enjoying the ride. The scene is brilliant. It’s a beautiful day. The colors are like nothing I’ve seen before, so vivid. But, then I notice the colors start to fade like someone is turning down the contrast on a photo.  Eventually, things are getting gray. I realize I’m waking up.  I start to sob. I don’t want to leave.  But, the spell is over. The magic is broken.  I find myself back in my bed.  This time I’m not crying in real life. The tears were only in the dream.

I go back to a deep sleep. Then, about an hour later, the light on the ceiling fan comes on again.  Tywana turns it off.  It comes on a second time.

I talk to a parent whose daughter passed just over a year ago.  She was about the same age as Shayna.  We are talking about signs and dream visits.  We agree on how unfair it is that our children can see us, hear us, even hear our thoughts; they are as close as a breath or a heartbeat away we are told.  Yet, we cannot sense them most of the time. We get signs, but we want those dream visits. We want to hear their voices, see their faces, touch them, hug them.  I tell her that I have had very few dreams of Shayna since her passing.  Always, Shayna has come as a little girl- maybe around age 4-6 years old, not the 15 year old Shayna that she was when she passed.

I go to bed and I’m having what is a normal, totally crazy dream.  I’m on the telephone talking to one of my neighbors as I’m walking through this giant building like the student union at Ohio State. We’re just making idle conversation. I sit down at a table.  I look up and two girls enter the room. One of them looks a lot like Shayna and I think to myself “Wow, that girl looks a lot like Shayna.”  This is 15 year old Shayna, tall and skinny.  Her hair is even short, the way she cut it a couple of months before she passed. Then, I hear her voice. She’s playing “eeny meeny miny mo” to choose a table to sit at.  She’s talking so fast, like only Shayna could talk and I see her flash that perfect smile.  Then I feel her energy in the room.   It’s impossible, but it’s her. It’s Shayna. I get this feeling of how much I have really missed her how I have pushed that aside out of necessity to get through the days. Now that I can see her again, it comes rushing in.  I stand to walk over to her and I call out “Hey baby….”.  She looks up and me and start to walk toward each other.  I’m so excited to see her that it breaks the spell. We both start to disappear. I feel this rush come through my body as her energy passes through me and I wake up in my bed covered in goosebumps.

I keep asking “Why don’t we get dream visits more often?”  And, I wonder why Shayna is also so young in the dreams I have of her. As I’m reminiscing over the moment I had with Shayna before I came out of the dream state I think perhaps the reason I don’t get the visits more often is they leave me with more longing than I had before. I realized in that moment when I saw Shayna what I have been missing for almost two years now.  Even if I could have held her, sat and talked with her and spent time with her, i know it would never have been enough and I’d wake up just wanting more.

Doors have been on my mind.  This week I started a book by George Anderson. In the opening of the book, he mentions how life is like a series of doors or portals. We come into life through the portal of birth. We exit through the portal of death. In between, we are a met by a series of doors through which come people, influences from spirit, opportunities, challenges, etc. We are constantly moving from door to door as these portals align and bring us into contact with the experiences that make up our lives.

Sometimes, we feel like we are stuck in the hallway. There is that time when we’ve exited one door and another hasn’t opened. It’s hell in the hallway. I feel like I’ve been stuck in the hallway way too long. I keep reminding myself it’s not forever, even though it feels that way too often.

So, today on my walk, I look over to my left as I’m passing a neighbor’s driveway and I see this. A “free door”, just sitting there for the taking.

Tywana and I had a phone conversation with Kayla last night.  IKR?  An actual telephone conversation.  Kayla has been having more dreams and more vivid dreams. I have been dreaming about Shayna more often.  I’m so grateful for the fact I can fall asleep easily and stay asleep.  It’s my escape from this reality into a world where I feel no pressure and no sadness.

Last night, as I was dreaming, I found Shayna and Kayla in a bedroom they shared. They had twin beds.  Shayna, for some unknown reason, had a stash of bottled water and all kinds of drinks under her bed. Shayna was upset because Kayla had been telling her that she was really 10 years old.  Shayna insisted that she was only 8 because she had stopped aging when she transitioned. She didn’t want to be 10, she wanted to be 8.  But, Kayla said she had to keep aging the same as people on Earth.  Kayla was also telling her that she wasn’t real because she was only there when we were there with her.  Shayna insisted she was very real.  I got to hold her and comfort her.  It was nice.

My dreamscape tonight takes me to a huge house that I recognize from a previous dream. It’s impossibly big and beautiful. In my previous dream, the house was mine.  In this dream, someone else has bought it and remodeled/expanded it. They’re letting me look around to see what they’ve done with the place.  On one end is room that leads out to a huge swimming pool. On the other end, they have added a gigantic party room that has one wall open (it’s in a warm weather climate of course) and just outside of the room is a giant pond, it has to be about an acre.  As I’m touring the house, hoping I don’t get lost, I come across a child’s bedroom. It’s small, especially for a house this size. Then, I realize there’s a child in the bed.  I’m about to back away to give her some privacy when I realize it’s Shayna at about the age of  7.  I recognize that she’s been gone from me, so I cross over to her and I hug her.  Again, I cannot remember what I said to her.  I don’t know if we even exchanged any words.  I just remember the feeling of holding her and kissing her cheeks. I’ve gotten better at not waking up the moment I see her in my dreams. So, I got to spend some time with her and just soak in the feeling of being reunited.

Yesterday was Aunt Carol’s memorial service. Being surrounded by so much family for so much time, I had Shayna my mind even more than usual, which is probably why she was in my dream last night.

We were at an amusement park. Tywana, Kayla, Shayna, and I were there.  Shayna was about 8-9 years old, probably about the age she would have been during Obama’s first inauguration.  The reason that’s relevant is Michelle Obama was there, too.  I didn’t see Barack.  The girls, their two and our two, were off playing and having a good time while Tywana and I were talking to Michelle. I found it odd that we were addressing her as Michelle, but we were. I remember election night in 2008.  We watched with the girls and I came close to tears.  Here was a family, just like mine, about to take the White House.  Barack is only three months younger than I am.  Michelle, is about Tywana’s age. They had two girls. It was cool being in this place and talking to Michelle Obama and having the girls play.  She had given the Secret Service agents money to buy treats for the girls and Shayna and Sasha were taking full advantage.

Then, I looked over at Shayna, who had come back for a few minutes, and I realized that she was not supposed to be here because she was dead.  I went over to her and I talked to her and i even got to hug her.  I don’t recall our conversation, but I do remember the feeling I had seeing her again.  I don’t think I realized it was a dream. I actually thought she was back from the dead and would be with us.  I had that feeling I used to have when the four of us were together, the feeling of being whole.  More than being whole in fact, I had the feeling of being complete. It was so peaceful.  It was bliss.

I told Michelle how Shayna had been lost and now was found.  I started to tell her about a sign we had had from Shayna.  Again, I don’t recall the details, but as I told the story, my body became covered in goosebumps from ankles up to shoulders.  Tywana’s did, too.  I showed the goosebumps to Michele and she was having trouble seeing them. But, as they started to go away it became obvious because what had happened was my skin was a good ½ inch thicker than it had been so, as they started to go away in kind of waves, you could see the skin returning back to it’s normal level, the hairs on my arms and legs started laying back down.  Colors were swirling through my skin.  Then, I woke up.

I wake up in the middle of the night. It’s around 5:30 AM I think.  The first thought that passes through my foggy brain is something like “Shayna is not in this place. It’s hard to put into words because it didn’t come to me in words.  It came more as a feeling.  Words take too long. This was all at once. I realized that I was back in this place where everything is a struggle, nothing comes easily and Shayna isn’t here and I had just come from a place that was the opposite. And, yes, Shayna was there.

I have no recollection of where I was.  Many say we astral travel at night, almost every night, meeting with departed loved ones and guides. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, we do not recall these visits.  Generally, we think of sleep as a lack of consciousness. When we are asleep we are “out”  But, researchers tell us this is not true.  Our brains never really turn off. Most of us forget most of our dreams never consciously aware we even had a dream.  Every once in a while, something will trigger a memory and we’ll think “Oh yeah. I dreamt that.  I had forgotten.”  Even when we’re under anesthesia, which no one really understands how it works, occasionally people will remember things said in the operating room.  We’re never really “out”. It seems that sometimes our consciousness just isn’t localized with our bodies.

I wish I could recall where I was in that moment before I woke up. It seems iike it was probably a good place. I sure didn’t want to be back in this body when I found myself here.

So, my friend and I were going to this restaurant to have breakfast.  The place was huge. The choice was to either go to the breakfast bar and take what was prepared or to go to a place where you could custom order and have it prepared especially for you. The price was either $0.99 or $1.99 for the breakfast bar and it was $6.99 for the prepared to order.  He went for the breakfast bar, but I wanted my eggs over easy, so I went to the other side. I couldn’t find anyone to serve me though and I started getting frustrated.  Then, I noticed the time. It was 7:40 AM.  I was in college and had an 8 o’clock class. I knew I did’t have time to wait for the custom breakfast and make it to class.  So, I started thinking about how I would handle missing math class.  I could read the lesson in the text book and figure out how to do the homework.  So, I waited for a little longer.  Then, I got impatient and I decided to go to the other side and just eat the crappy breakfast with the powdered scrambled eggs.  As I exited the custom side to head back over, I ran into my father and his twin brother. We talked for a while and I decided I would wait after all.  I’d just miss class. To get back in thought I had to exit the building. When I left, I found myself lost.  I could not get back to the building. I wandered around for a while, then I noticed how beautiful it was outside. It was a bright summer day and the sun was beaming down on my back. At that moment, I realized it was a dream and I was pretty impressed with the complex scene I had created. I had become lucid in my dream  I stood there just soaking it in.  Then, I decided to just lie down and enjoy the weather.

That’s when I woke up.

So, I’m here with the family and we’re having an intervention for our teenage daughter. She’s been acting a little off lately, taking risks and not acting like herself.  I’m sitting in a chair and she is sitting in front of the chair on the floor with her back leaned up against my legs. The rest of the family is seated across from us and we’re expressing our concern for the way she’s been behaving.  She’s got to stop living so dangerously.

As we’re talking to her, she goes from being defensive to being deeply sad and troubled.  Then, it comes out “I’m afraid I’m running out of time.  I don’t know how much time I have left.”  We’re all thinking the same thing. This is ridiculous.  Running out of time?  You’re a healthy, teenage girl.  “What if when I had my slip I hadn’t come back?  I would never see you guys again.”  She bursts into tears.  The slip, I seem to recall, has something to do with a horse she was riding. She took a bad fall, but she is fine.  There’s no reason for her to be acting this way. She’s got a long life in front of her.

I stand up and I pull her towards me. The face I see is the face of Yara Shahidi, the girl who plays Zoe, on Blackish.  (Zoe is the name I had chosen for Shayna before Tywana vetoed it.).  I pull her in close and I can feel her chin snuggled in that area where my neck meets my shoulder. I gently put my hand on the back of her head and I lean down so our faces are right next to each other. I whisper to her “No matter what happens.  We will be together again.”  I feel this surge of energy go through not only me, but through both of us.  It’s a rush that I can’t put into words. I can feel what she’s feeling.  It’s as if we are one.  Then, it hits me who she really is.

I wake up in tears.