Dreamers All

by - 8:00 PM

"Dreamers All" is a window into my soul on many levels. Personal essays are, well, personal, but this one takes a deep dive. I submitted this essay to The Provo Canyon Review and got this acceptance response.

We are proud to inform you that we would like to publish "Dreamers All" in the next issue of The Provo Canyon Review.  It is a sensitively written work that in the wrong hands could seem laughable, but you imbue a dignity and respect for these dreams and the reader senses that strongly.  Well done!

I loved it, she truly understood this essay and I was a big fan of this literary magazine so I was well pleased. Then, right before my scheduled month an email came saying they were abruptly ceasing publication. I was so disappointed. First, that this literary magazine would no longer be arriving in my inbox, and second because it was such a perfect home for this essay.

My rule is when a piece is rejected, I read it over, revise if necessary, and resubmit. This was not a rejection but I did need to find a new home for it. As often happens in my life, a notification for submissions to Real Women Write: Sharing Our Stories, Sharing Our Lives, Volume 16 popped into my inbox. My poem ER Revelations was published in Volume 15. It felt like the next right place to find a home for this essay and it was! I am pleased that it was accepted for inclusion in this beautiful anthology. It is not available on Amazon so I am including it below.

Dreamers All

In the fifth month of my pregnancy, I had a vivid dream.

In it my grandmother came to me in the form of a baby and the baby was very sick, desperately ill. Then the baby shifted, morphed into my grandmother looking as I knew her last. She held my gaze and said, “Persevere. Everything will be all right. Just persevere.”

I awakened from the dream knowing my baby was going to be sick. Knowing life with my child would be a struggle. But also knowing that if I persevered, all would be well. I knew this because my grandmother never misled me. I trusted her. She had died fourteen years earlier and I still missed her, was sad that she never met my husband. I was so grateful that she had come from the other side to help me, guide me, and encourage me.

Dreaming was a constant in my life. I got answers to my questions, guidance about my life, had premonitions, had things explained to me. I never thought that unusual. I assumed, until I got older and more experienced in the world, that it was true for everyone. I trusted my dreams. So I never questioned the validity of this one for one second.

For months I had been hearing the question: “Do you want a boy or a girl?”

People actually asked that question with great regularity when I was expecting in 1976 before ultrasounds were commonplace.

I would hear other pregnant women answer, “I don’t care but my husband wants a son.” Or, “I am hoping it’s a girl.” Or, “I hope it’s a boy because we have two girls and are going to keep going till we have a son.” Or, “It’s my first, so we’d like a boy.” I found all of those answers problematic. I believed that the baby could hear every word and sense the emotion of the mother. If not the preferred sex, how would this child feel about being wrong from the start?

The other common answer, and until this dream the one that seemed better was, “It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl as long as the baby is healthy.”

Now I knew my child was not going to be healthy, and I knew that it didn’t matter at all. This child I was carrying was my baby and I would love and accept him and persevere. This baby was never going to hear me qualify his value and desirability with, “as long as the baby is healthy.”

On January 28, 1977, after an easy labor and delivery, Brendan arrived. From the very first he struggled. By his first birthday, he had spent about as much time in the hospital as he had at home. Although he was seven pounds and five ounces at birth, it was not until his first birthday that he finally tipped the scale at ten pounds. Every ounce was a hard fought gain. More than once, I was told to accept that he would not live. I never did. I knew better. Grandma told me. I persevered.

He is a dreamer. And, I learned when he was quite young, a night traveler. We would often sit at the breakfast table and chat about our dreams. One morning, when he was about seven, he said to me, “Mom, you know those things people who go to space wear on their heads?”
“Bren, do you mean astronauts? Helmets?”
“Yes. Them.”
We had been reading The Berenstain Bears on the Moon, a children’s book about space travel so I thought I understood his reference. We talked about books constantly. But then he surprised me.
“You don’t need those. When I fly at night, I don’t need a helmet.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant by that; I asked him where he went when he flew. “Last night,” he said, “I visited Nana.”

Nana is my mother, his grandmother, and she lived in Pennsylvania. We lived in Ohio. He loved her and they spoke on the phone almost every day so I thought it sweet that he was imagining flying to see her. Out of curiosity, I asked what was she doing. He told me she was sitting in her chair in her bedroom, watching television and knitting. I asked him if she was glad to see him and he replied that she didn’t see him, he only saw her.

Out of curiosity, I called my mother and asked what she had done the night before. Her reply made it clear that she had done exactly what he said, exactly as he described it. When I told her Bren had paid her a visit, she laughed with delight, told me to tell him to stop by anytime. I come from that kind of Irish witchery family.

One of Brendan’s worst health struggles was migraine headaches that were becoming more and more frequent as he approached adolescence. They occurred about every three weeks, each episode resulting in a three to five day hospitalization as the migraine made him vomit and the vomiting triggered his metabolic disorder. When he was twelve I finally found a doctor, an osteopath, who treated him by gently pressing on his head, gradually moving the bones in his skull to adjust a sutural override. She said it probably occurred at birth but did not present as a problem until he grew to a certain point. Finding someone who could identify this and treat it with just her hands was a gift.

Even more remarkable to me was the fact that she immediately recognized my son as a night traveler. She was one too. I sat spellbound, listening to them talk about some of the things they had seen on their journeys. We had found another dreamer.

With her hands, this dreamer had changed his life just as my grandmother had changed mine.
We have now celebrated his fortieth birthday. Despite years of pain and suffering, health complications and limitations, he is a remarkable, joy-filled, generous person.

Bren and I still chat about our dreams. I keep a dream journal next to my bed and write down the knowledge gifted me during the night. My grandmother has not visited me since that first time. There’s no need. She told me then all I needed to know.

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