Sunday, January 29, 2012
I am about to enter a soft, green room. There is a large table in the center of it, perhaps fifteen feet wide by twenty feet long. The lighting is like daylight, bright, but indoors.
I am just approaching the wooden, heavily hinged door, which has a glass panel in it with a shade drawn down over the window. In the doorframe stands Heather, the sister, and she ushers us in. I know why I am here. Heather's sister, my friend, her baby has died.
As I am coming across the threshhold I see him, twelve weeks old, I know it is him. His name is Henry. I know I am here because he died, but somehow it hadn't occurred to me that I would see him, that he would actually be here. This is a funeral of sorts. It's going to be very small.
I am going to cry so much, I suddenly realize. This is very sad.
Henry is lying about two-thirds of the way down the big table, almost in front of the door as we enter. He is naked, with soft, dark hair, and he's curled into a beautiful sleeping position. He almost looks like one of the babies in an Anne Ged.des photograph, only he isn't in a basket or flowerpot, he's just beautifully curled around himself like a sleeping doll. He looks amazingly lifelike, but I know he is dead.
I try not to look at him, and I turn to the left and head towards my seat, the one that somehow I know is mine, about five seats down on the side of the table that faces the door. I am trying to look purposeful, as if I have somewhere I need to be. But as I'm walking down, my back to Heather and to Henry, I realize what I'm doing:
I'm avoiding him on purpose, because I don't want to know that this is real. I don't want to look at him, and realize how adorable he is, and how sweet he is, and to understand the magnitude of what my friend has lost. I don't want to see his sweet face and feel this unstoppable surge of agonizing grief for a little life lost. But I know that I must. I must.
So I turn back around and I head for him. Somebody else is already there, admiring him. I lean over and see him. He is so sweet, so beautiful. He really looks like he is sleeping. I look at him very closely. Very, very closely. I think I can actually see his hand trembling a little bit. It can't actually be so, can it? This sweet, beautiful little boy cannot be dead, can he? It seems much too impossibly sad to be the truth. I'm almost sure that I can see him move.
The woman who is looking at him picks him up, now, and she tries to move his position. She's trying to re-curl him in another way, and as she does so I can see that under his arm, where it has been curled around his little face, it is all reddish-purple and bruised. In my mind I know that this is because he actually is dead, and the blood is beginning to pool from the gravity. (does this really happen, I wonder? as I ponder this dream)
My heart sinks. It is really so......
And here, the dream ends, as all dreams do, abruptly and without resolution.
n.b. The baby in the dream, o best beloved, did look just like Charlotte.
n.b. 2 Henry is a real child, the son of the real friend, sister of Heather, but he is a lively, blond two year old. Incidentally, his mother, a friend from High School, reached out to me after reading Charlotte's obituary in the paper, and rekindled our friendship which had lain dormant for 10 years. I believe she is the only person who randomly sought me out to say she was sorry.