Exactly one year to the day after losing my 26-year-old son to a drug overdose, I had this dream:
May 3, 2005 – The doctor tells me I’m pregnant. Oh my God, I don’t want to have another baby at this age! It will be so much work and I don’t have the energy. I am torn. I love babies, but I don’t want one of my own. Yet, I can’t have an abortion because I feel like God must have given me this baby and I can’t turn away from that. I hope that maybe the doctor is wrong. But, no, later I learn that not only am I pregnant, I’m having twins!
I’ve been a dreamer all my life, and dreams have always brought me sound guidance-never more so than during my journey through grief. I pondered the message and wondered who these twin babies might be. Over time it came to me that the twins were joy and sorrow, hope and despair, those sweet, needy, paradoxical babies born in each of us after the loss of a loved one.
I remember that the very moment I was informed of Cameron’s death, I felt simultaneously the deepest, most heart-rending pain AND the most amazing peace. It was as if a window had opened inside my heart giving me a glimpse of heaven. I knew in the very same moment that nothing would ever be the same again and yet all was well, that all was lost and all was gained, that all was broken and all was healed. Brother David Steindl-Rast has said that it is in those moments of deepest paradox that we are closest to God.
After that initial moment of mystical clarity, I plunged into a deep despair. It was hard to hang on to that feeling of peace or to believe I would ever find it again. Throughout that first year I wrestled with anger, guilt, bitterness and grief. At the same time, I continuously received messages and nudges that I sensed were from Cameron urging me to reclaim my life, to be happy. But it felt selfish and disloyal to think of living happily while my son was dead.
The dream of carrying twins reminded me that I didn’t have to release all my sorrow in order to reclaim joy. Both of these babies needed nurturing. Both of them belonged to me. I decided that morning that I could carry these twins of joy and sorrow and love them both and honor them both. I could allow myself to feel both sorrow and joy deeply and fully. A funny thing happened after I made that discovery: the window to peace opened back up inside me and my heart began to heal.
It is a choice to let joy back in. It is a choice we each face in every moment. The death of a loved one is the birth of twins. When we learn to hold sorrow in one arm and joy in the other we are close to God indeed.
Copyright 2009 Claire M. Perkins.Tags: dreams, grief, hope, paradox, signs and connections