I had the craziest dream the other night. I dreamed that I was late for my father's funeral; an event that actually took place more than 33 years ago, when I was 15 years old. In the dream, my nephew and two nieces were responsible for taking me from their house to the funeral. Of course I have no idea why I was at their house or why they were the ones responsible for transporting me, but that's beside the point.
There I was scampering around, trying to get ready. I was sick to my stomach, half from grief and half from nervousness. While I was rushing back and forth getting ready, the other three were just puttering around seeming to be disinterested in the whole affair. I reprimanded them a number of times and tried to prod them into moving faster but it was to no avail. I watched the minutes fly by on the clock, getting more and more frustrated with each tick. The clock hands moved past the time of the funeral-2 PM-and on toward 3 PM.
As 2:30 PM approached, I finally lost my cool. I demanded that we leave immediately, since we had already missed half of the funeral Mass. I had a lingering hope that we would still make it to the cemetery before he was buried so that I could say a final goodbye. I was completely dressed, but could not find my shoes so I sent my oldest niece upstairs to get them for me thinking she could do it a lot faster than I could.
"They are brown leather with straps across the heels," I told her. "You can't miss them. They are right next to my bed."
"Fine,” she said, rolling her eyes.
My niece reluctantly climbed the stairs, and returned several minutes later with a pair of hot pink stiletto high heels. I was appalled for three reasons. First, because they weren't the shoes I had sent her to get – they weren’t even mine and I had no idea from where she’s gotten them. Second, because I was wearing a chocolate brown suit with which hot pink shoes would have looked ridiculous. Third, because I would break my neck trying to walk in them!
By the time we were all ready and getting into the car, it was far too late to attend the funeral. My heart was crushed beyond description. I was completely devastated and overwhelmed with agony as I realized that I was missing one of the most important events in my life.
Oddly enough, just a few days after that dream my spiritual father-a man whom I've loved and respected for nearly 3 decades-suffered a brain bleed and was hospitalized. God is all-powerful and all-wise. I do not know whether or not the dream was a foreshadowing of the brain bleed, but the sequence and chronological proximity of the two events had tremendous impact on me; it was almost as if one was preparing me for the other.
My husband, youngest son, and I visited my spiritual father. He recognized us immediately and was obviously delighted to see us, something even his incapacitating condition couldn't mask. Seeing him in the hospital bed brought forth a rush of memories of my physical father, of all the wonderful times we had together and then of him, near death, lying in his hospital bed, calling out to me to come to him. The similarity was so striking, and the emotions so encompassing, that my head began to swirl a bit and I nearly lost my composure. Then I was flooded with memories of all the incredible things my spiritual father has done for me over the years and what he has come to mean to me.
No one is expecting my spiritual father to die, but to me the crisis he suffered signals the death of an era of my life. It was a reminder to me of how quickly things can change and how critical it is to take advantage of the time we have with those we love. If we're not attentive, we’ll putter around looking for hot pink stilettos and miss the most important events of our lives.