I am not religious. I wouldn't even say I am spiritual. I just believe in the good of people and in trying to do the right thing, whatever that is. The finality of death has always been hard for me since I desperately want to believe I will see my loved ones again. But I do not believe I will. In the case of Ellie, this produces much pain and sorrow. So I yearned to dream of her...not the horrible dreams I had after she died. They were of her brother dying while I was always a second away from saving him. But dreams of a sweet, happy, and healthy baby girl, growing through the years as if she were still with us. I would beg myself to dream of her at night, but instead the grief would take over and I would inevitably cry myself to sleep quietly, as not to wake my husband. But then it happened. The dream.
When I was pregnant with my son, Ellie's older brother, I would go to a water aerobics class at a university pool several times a week. You know the scene: tile floors, humidity, the smell of chlorine and mold in the air. The dream starts at that pool. I am walking into the area where I swam and later took my son to infant classes. There are two or three instructors and a dozen little babies bobbing in the water. They aren't in distress, but instead seem to be actively swimming despite looking just a few months old! I feel like I shouldn't be there for some reason and am aware that I shouldn't be viewing this sight. As I slowly walk toward the babies, an instructor notices me and quickly produces a large yellow sheet to shield me from seeing anything. I stop, saddened I can no longer see, although I don't really understand what I am looking at. As the disappointment starts to settle in, a little fair skinned girl with blue eyes and brown curly hair (now four or five years of age) peaks around the yellow sheet and smiles at me. I know. I know in that instant that the little girl is my Ellie. I eagerly step toward her, but am suddenly taken to another place. I am still near the pool, but am now standing among several twenty-somethings in modern clothing as they wait for something. The next class? A bus? I am not sure. But I am talking frantically to them. I am asking what their names are, but none seem to know the answer. All they seem to know is that they died as infants. I zero in on two girls based on hair and eye color, and realize one is my daughter. I again ask their names, and they again reply they do not know. But one girl says she knows her birthdate. I stare at her and she says it. January 8, 2010. She is beautiful. Tall, fair shinned, dark hair, stunning blue eyes. She is alert and smart and has compassion in her eyes. She is my daughter as a woman. I call her Ellie as tears swell up in my eyes and begin toward her when my alarm goes off. I fumbled to hit the snooze button and tightly closed my eyes in hopes of seeing Ellie's face again and telling her how much I miss and love her. I lay there begging my mind to give me one more glimpse of her, to hear her talk again, to touch her. But it is in vain. The dream is gone, and so is Ellie.
Do I think my dream was my daughter in another realm trying to reach out to me? As wonderful as that would be, no, I don't. I think after five years of painful grief, my mind was finally allowing me to see her. Maybe it was to help me get through the holidays and her upcoming fifth birth and death dates. Maybe it was to help me process her death and the finality of it all. Maybe being around children at the holidays and thoughts of her playing in the midst of the cousin chaos made me yearn for her presence. I don't know. Finally dreaming of her was bittersweet. The image of that beautiful young woman stayed with me all day after the dream. But now that image is fading. She's gone again and the pain returns more deeply. She is still gone forever and all I have to look forward to is the hope that I will again see her in my dreams.