Last night I had a dream!
I was sitting down in a vast dessert amusing myself like a child as I let the sand run between my fingers. Yet I was definitely old; the skin on my arms and the back of my hands was cracked like the shell of 100-year-old tortoise. The world around me was calm when a little bird’s cry struck my ear.
Was I dreaming? Tossing and turning in my bed, I tried to rouse myself, but my head sank into my pillow under the weight of sleep. Did Morpheus carry me away in his arms or did an imaginary Sahara blow through my consciousness?
…….I had been staring at the horizon for a few long minutes when suddenly in the distance I saw a dark spot. Something seemed to be moving. Anxious to see a camel come out of the void, my eyes focused intently on the horizon. Perhaps a herd of 4, 6 or 12 of them, driven by their impatient masters, would approach in my direction.
Eyes wide open so I wouldn’t miss a thing, I was certain I caught a colourful turban, like a gleaming fakir headdress, emerging from the sand. The little bird landed on my thigh. With a beat of its wings, it jumped up to my shoulder to whisper in my ear that a fakir had a message for me.
……Was I still dreaming? In front of me, a swarm of birds blotted the sky and bees danced to the strains of music. Further away, the rhythmic grinding of a merry-go-round at a fair attracted a lineup of kids eager to ride the big wheel.
Bewildered, I stood in front of a narrow table with a fakir in traditional dress behind it trying to catch my attention. On the table, covered with carpet from a thousand and one nights, three large white envelopes were carefully arranged like birthday cards folded in half. Their bulging insides suggested great stories to be revealed. The fakir’s eyes suddenly locked with mine.
- “I’ve been waiting for you, madam. These envelopes are for you. You must open them and read their contents before departing from this world.”
- “But what kind of messages are they? What’s inside these envelopes?”
- “Don’t be worried about the contents, madam. They are important messages that you need to hear before you die. Think of them as mighty wings that will allow you to leave your loved ones without any regrets.”
Then the fakir, with his straight royal bearing, removed a hand from underneath his embroidered coat and handed one of the mysterious envelopes to me.
The sunset was creeping into my bedroom, I gently opened my eyes and immediately began to search for the envelopes from the farik among the sheets and on the floor and night table. Was I really awake? What do I need to know before I die? What were these messages that would give me wings to fly away?
I usually forget my dreams as soon as my toes touch the floor. But this morning, the dream did not fade. To my surprise it stayed with me until my third coffee, so I decided to arrange it in lines on my computer screen.
………The midday light shrouds my kitchen in mystery. I am engrossed in the dream, typing it carefully on the keyboard. I want to know the contents of the envelopes so badly that I have trouble remembering what the fakir had hinted at.
He had said that these message were gifts – wings that would help me leave this world when the time came. To leave without any regrets. What was I missing? What are my regrets?
One thing I know: as I near my end, I wish my loved ones would make a little more fuss over me. I should care less, of course, but strangely the awareness of my mortality stirs my desire to be comforted. I know my children love me. Yet my hope only grows. I hope to receive more tenderness and compliments, at least for what I have accomplished.
Given the person I was, I only deserve crumbs really. I deeply regret not being the best mom to my kids; I wasn’t the most tender nor the most affectionate. I loved them and fed them in my own way, like my sad mother did with her afflicted hands. Both of us lived with a heart that had been starved of love, unable to provide our offspring with the essential. I was consumed by unhappiness at the time, and life had dealt a tough hand: multiple moves, a husband’s fury, his meanness, a car accident, parents passing in a short time of each other, working from morning to night, early adolescence.
Today, it pains me to accept that my kids had to witness so much misery. I was so fixated on ensuring our survival at the time. Working, keeping hunger at bay, being honest and studying well. “We’ll be okay later,” I promised them over and over again.
Admittedly, when it came to business, I received more praise and awards than I needed to succeed and grow. The truth is, BUILDING is much easier than LOVING.
BUILDING I learned on my own from books. LOVING is seeded and harvested from one generation to the next; a tradition that takes root in our hearts. Life had hardened me and I have remained as hard as the metal used to fashion the victor’s statue.
Still in front of my keyboard, I hear the trees lamenting. Their stooped branches weeping at my kitchen windows. Sadness visits me.
Three envelopes? My three children. Perhaps I will receive the messages from them before I leave for the unknown?
Perhaps it is up to me to be less rational and more loving and more affectionate with my babies, who are now all grown up?
Perhaps I should make up for lost time. Praise them more, encourage them more often? Perhaps I should give them what I hope to receive?
But how do I remove this cursed armour that has fused with my warrior’s skin after all these long hard years?
I have confidence and especially HOPE. A hope as big as the vast sky above.
These long months of confinement have given me time to think and tame my poor heart. It is beginning to soften perceptibly. Do you notice it too? Letter after letter, it is speaking more. It often acts like an open window, bringing warmth and beauty to my lines. It inspires my words more and more; it encourages my passion; it is teaching me to be LOVING.
"The way up and the way down is the one and the same.”
Heraclitis, Greek philosopher (544 BC)