Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Love is the Continuum

My sister wrote me an email recently, that gave me a lot of comfort. Contrary to her fears, I think there is plenty in this dream that will resonate for others, so--with her permission--I am sharing an excerpt here.


(Christmas 1986, Laceyland)
A couple of days ago, I got up at 5:00 AM, after almost NO SLEEP AT ALL, to see Tony off for an overnight trip. After breakfast, I tried to stay up, figuring that was the way to hope to sleep that night. But I couldn't do it: I gave up around 8:00 and went back to bed, where I remained, with a couple of bathroom trips, until 5:00 PM. I slept most of the day, with Eddie curled up next to me, and Bob and Ray playing quietly on the CD player... Late in the afternoon, I [dreamed] about James, and the dream has made a real difference to me. The story began without warning, just me on the dog couch at Laceyland, crying and crying and leaning into thee, also crying, saying again how much we miss James. Thy arms went around me and we sobbed for a few seconds, but then I opened my eyes to discover that thy flannel pajamas had changed into HIS flannel pajamas. And when I looked up, the hug was with James, and it wasn't grieving for anyone. It was just Christmas morning and we were settling down after breakfast, waiting for the others to come in and open presents. I looked to my left, and thee was on the other couch, grinning. And then in that miraculous way that dreams work, several other things happened--in succession or simultaneously. I saw Brian in the dining room. I heard Mom and Dad in the kitchen. I saw my darling friend Eileen, and she was meeting thee and James for the first time, but as little boys--the ages her boys were when Tony and I first met them--and she swung James up on her hip and said, "Someone needs a diaper change!" And he gurgled and we all giggled. And I could feel myself coming to the surface again, with a clear insight that I was trying to put into words. As I woke up, I knew that the closest I was going to get was, "All times exist at once. Love is the continuum." The dream seemed utterly explicit, for once in a goddamned long time: that love is linked to that love and linked to that love and linked . . . and everything is happening then, now, and forever. I know it wasn't a vision, as such. And I also know that a sad tired me could cook up any number of things in a dream state. But it matters so much to me, to have had that transformation--grief into joy--then into now--with all the anachronisms and impossibilities just part of the whole. I got up, got dressed, and wrote my precious wisdom or sappy self-deception down and stuck it in the zipper compartment of my purse, had something to eat, washed the breakfast dishes, read the mail . . . I am still so sad, and will be, but the comfort is real. Someone else's dream is so rarely any use to others! But I knew thee would get it, and I thought thee might like to know, especially since one of the photos on the blog mentions the flannel PJ's.

(Christmas 2002, Laceyland)

I don't really have much to add beyond "yeah, what she said." That, of course, won't stop me from babbling though, as most of you must realize by now.

This past year, and especially this summer, I've been relearning just what a force of nature love is. It's a word that has been cheapened from overuse, sentimentalized (or is it commodified?) by Hollywood, Hallmark, and Harlequin, but that's the problem with deep, archetypal forces. Because they're fundamental, maybe they're beyond our abilities to put them into words. Or maybe love is like oxygen; we're most likely to notice it in its absence, or its purest, most intoxicating form. In any case, I've had many opportunities to see love at work, in all its messy, clumsy, unrelenting beauty. Recently more of those opportunities have been in the form of a coming together of communities (weddings, births, reunions, anniversaries, memorials) as opposed to the passionate romance often identified as love at its greatest. I'm not belittling that expression of it (it's just a distant memory, boo-hoo, poor me, cue the violins), but I'm grateful for the other ways I've experienced it in the last year.

Yup, not really saying anything new here. Mary said it better already. Love transcends space and time. Whether it's evidence of a sentient higher being, an evolutionary tactic for propagating the species, or a universal force akin to gravity, I've been feeling its presence in palpable ways lately. I wouldn't say it's always been FUN, per se, but I'm grateful nonetheless.


Jeff said...

I completely, absolutely and literally agree, and appreciate the reminders from both you and your sister, Patrick. All my love.

And because you love fun words, my verification:
ranisfep said...

This is very healing for you. I took care of my mother the last few years of her life and when she passed it was very hard on me. After about three weeks I was dreaming and Mom was there and looking like a million dollars. She said something about "doesn't my hair look nice?" I told her it did and then said "Wait a minitue, you are dead." Then I reached out and touched her and physically touched her.

People can say what they want about it but it was a real experience for me and I firmly believe that it was her way of letting me know that she was all right and no longer had to carry an oxygen bottle wherever she went. I have been following your story on your blog and have mourned James with you. I am sure we are all a part of the Love called God and will be rejoined in the future. God (L:ove) bless.

Marta said...


Java said...

Mary's dream seems to be very helpful, and not just to her. It's good that she shared it. Thank you and Mary for passing it on. Though it doesn't relate specifically to anything I am living now, the general principles certainly do.

Jenny said...

Very moving and meaningful, Patrick. Thanks to both you and Mary for sharing. I know that this has been an unbelievably sad time for you, but the one blessing of this tragedy from my personal perspective is that I became aware of your blog. I've enjoyed "catching up" with you. :) Take care... - Jenny Nordstrom EC'89

Birdie said...

This makes my heart ache, but in a good way. English really makes us struggle to adequately describe love in any of its forms. I do honestly believe love binds us spiritually; perhaps that was what Mary experienced in a very concrete way. That you both found comfort in her dream speaks to its authenticity.

This is the deep love of quiet understanding. May it give you much peace.

Butch said...

The pics are a wonderful time capsule of your meaningful and colourful life. I liked them very much. When was the last time I ever wore pajamas?! ;-)

Your words are very touching, thanks for sharing your life.

tornwordo said...

That is an awesome dream. And the premise of all things existing at once is not so far fetched. The block universe theory, which is suggested by Einstein's work basically says the same thing. I like the idea of love being the element of continuity.

Beth said...

What Mary AND you said...

Butch said...

I forgot to mention the dream. When I was stationed at Ft. Story, Va, I used to go into Virginia Beach and visit the Library of Edgar Casey who did wonderous things from his dreams. I can only think that these dreams are very important to have and work through during this time of your loss. I hope that makes some sense on some level.

Rev. AJB said...

I have had similar dreams after the loss of a loved one. They have always brought me great comfort and peace in a time of loss. Thank you for continuing to share James' life with us; I'm glad he touched my life for a brief moment so many years ago!

Pua; Bakin' and Tendin' Bar said...

I remember when you asked me about my tattoo and I was able to share with you the story of my beloved friend (who would have celebrated his 40th birthday this week). For me, this was a way to keep him with me always and to share his memory every time someone asks. Because we were able to share our stories with each other, it makes its meaning so much more special. I know we'd both rather not have to remember the loss of our loved ones, but there is comfort in being able to share our grief, and ultimately (since we have no choice) our joy in their memory. Mary's dream is lovely and your ability to share it is a gift to us.

"Love transcends space and time."

Amen. Hugs to you sweet friend.

Greg said...

It turns out the Beatles were right: Love is all you need.

Such a sweet dream, no doubt a gift from James to you both.

xo, Pal.

Joe Jubinville said...

I share your mistrust of the way the word “love” is bandied about, commodified, sentimentalized, patronized, and all the rest. If I hear the term “unconditional love”, as if people knew what they were talking about, one more time, I’ll spit. I’m inclined to talk about love only cautiously these days, as befitting its holiness, in the vein of “The wise man keeps his own counsel, for the times are evil.” I’m finding that I prefer to go at it obliquely, through narrative, when I write or talk about it. Or through acting on it in real life, and saying nothing. St. Paul’s rhapsody on love may still be the gold standard on its essential attributes.

With that cautionary prelude aside, I think your sister struck gold in her dream. Both in having touched, been touched, by the quantum nature, for want of a better word, of love’s omnipresence, in its being the motivating condition of space AND time, and the allusive nature of its dynamic... “this love is that love, is that love...” No, it’s not always fun. Love and grief are cousins.

I appreciate the dream’s inference that past present and future are only special conditions of carnal existence, love being the true and only continuum. And yet in some way the most touching aspect of the dream was in the completely endearing particulars of its narrative: the morphing pajamas, Christmas morning breakfast, gurgling babies, in which love is dramatically revealed.

Student: Rabbi why did God make us?
Rabbi: Because God loves stories.

Is that you in the center in the first shot? It’s you, isn’t it. Geez, were you a teen idol or somethin?! And look at James, drawn close in his brother's hug. His expression says it all.

john said...

Big hug for you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Years ago when my partner died, I had a similar (though waking) dream, which I took as a visit from him. I actually felt a warmth spreading out from my belly I was being hugged there.

And although I still grieved for him deeply, his visit changed the black pit of grief to something more bearable.

I hope that you and your family can feel a lightening of the grief soon.

tornwordo said...

I can totally relate to where you're coming from. It's weird lately amongst all the grief how powerfully love shows its hand.