I had a dream, last night. Actually, it was this morning, short before six.
Waking up, I stared at the window. No intention. Then at the clock. Enough time to go back to sleeping. Wished to sleep a bit more. Wished to return in my dream.
No way back. Feeling how the dream dissipates, little by little, I struggle to remember who was the person, the one whose presence my mind had been sensing. To no avail.
Then I figure it out: the Halloween night. Wondering.
I live in a Catholic world roamed by so many Protestants. I come from a space where, even if not in the calendar, people are used to celebrate today, All Saints Day.
All Hallows’ Eve, preceding All Hallows’ Day – a Christian holiday converted to Halloween.
I am Orthodox. In the Orthodox calendar, today are mentioned Saints Cosmas and Damian – reputed twin brothers, sons of Saint Theodota, physicians, and early Christian martyrs. They practiced their profession in the seaport of Aegeae, then in the Roman province of Syria. Accepting no payment for their services led to them being named Anargyroi (from the Greek Ανάργυροι, “the silverless” or “Unmercenaries”); it has been said that, by this, they attracted many to the Christian faith.
An early widow, their mother raised them to be God-fearing right-thinking men. Trained and formed as medics, they received the gift of healing sick body and soul by the power of prayer. Loving the Lord, Who said
infirm ones be healing, lepers be cleansing, dead be raising, demons be casting out — freely ye did receive, freely give.
They always refused payment.
Not thinking at any celebration day, not thinking at anything, raised in a fresh frontier region where East and West mingle, I was just accustomed to visit the cemeteries, the family graves, on November 1st. Remembering the dead.
This time of the year, graveyards look fairy-like by night, especially. Flowers all over the tombs and myriads of burning candles. By the book, the Deads’ Day is commemorated by the Catholic Church on November the 2nd. Does it matter anymore? Living people have dear dead ones in many places. They can’t make it to visit all the graves they wish in only one day. There is a reason for the autumn school holiday, so that families can roam the lands, visiting cemeteries.
My mom, especially after dad has departed, used to give a great importance to this day. Wreaths and candles, prepared of a timely manner, carried by her hands to no few of the cemeteries around the city. Some years she even managed to make it to her mother’s tomb, to a far place. She suffered when she could not go there.
We, like many others, have our parents buried in two different places. Here in town, Don’s mom. The other three, back to the city. A tomb away from each other. What a stupid girl I am. What nonsense can I write! Hm.
They are all together and close to each other, in Heavens, next to Khrist Pantokrator. They’re doing well. Or beyond well. What do I know. My words can’t tell. But still, crawling down here through the dust, running from grave to grave, I worry and beat my mind with nostalgia. Like a total idiot.
This year, for November 1st, I didn’t plan to visit my parents’ graves, back to the city. I knew since September that I won’t go. This is premeditation, yes.
Being realistic, I can see that there was little chance. Because for some today is All Saints’ Day, a fastidious holiday, yet for others today is just an ordinary working day.
Consider the carpenter. As I write, I look at him up on the roof, fixing some metal plates on beams of wood. How could I say ‘no’ to him? ‘Don’t come to work today?’ If he’s got no Sunday to rest because of so much jobs calling him. He is a pious man. You can be that without wearing a Catholic badge.
God is One and He’s not keeping denominational, religious, track records the way we, dusty humans, love to micro-manage our lives. The Lord knows, even before we can figure it out, about our personal connection to Him. There’s more than a whole world that we can’t see.
The less you expect from a day, the prettier surprises come to brighten it. Because it is the unexpected where surprises come from. And I keep rambling. Bear with me, I’ll cut it short, soon, after the narrative, not much of it.
Where was I? Ah, the dream, my dream. There was I! This morning dream that I have reconstructed. In part.
On Hallows’ Eve, we went to the cemetery in town. The night was set by then. Lit up four candles, thinking of our parents. White flowers. White candles. More flowers and more candles surrounding us, all over the graves. I was moderately and pleasantly impressed. Interesting yet not insisting.
Back home, I lit another candle, taller, which I placed at the window. For all our dear departed ones at whose graves we cannot attend. This taller candle will burn for forty hours (that’s what the advertising saying). It will burn throughout All Saints’ Day and partly during the Day of the Dead – tomorrow.
After watching another Aniston movie, I went to bed. Where I realized that I could not sleep. Not tired. Peeping at the clock: about midnight. Hm. What should I do? How about browsing a bit through the fresh magazine on the nightstand. What Doctors Don’t Tell You – my favorite. Oh my, again a new feed of information. All of it very interesting and so fitting with what I know, with what I’ve been learning from other sources on health, lifestyle and reverse aging. For one. But what I read in this mag is also matching with the current context in our home: headaches – diagnosis and remedies before getting to Advil; chronic fatigue in 16 years old children; an index of foods according to their glycemic value.
Things that I’m familiar with but that I enjoy reading about, for the n-th time. Perhaps that’s why I’m familiar with them.
I almost hit one o’clock with a sideways blink when I decide that it’s time to put the mag aside, lay on my back, relaxed, say my prayers and sleep. I’ve heard that, when you wish to control your dreams, this is the position for you to fall asleep in. On your back with your hands on your chest.
I had not the slightest intention to program my dreams. Any dream! I didn’t even think of the loved ones that are not here with us anymore. But, still under the impression of my readings, I fell asleep.
What I can clearly remember from my dream was the hall and kitchen of the apartment where I grew up. The place where mom used to welcome us when visiting her. Every time she prepared something sweet and delicious. Because in November she was celebrating her birthday as well.
I didn’t see mom, in the dream. I don’t think I saw someone, anyone. I just know that someone was visiting. Mom had left, in the kitchen, an apple pie, sugar free, for Don.
On the fridge, there are some cookies, or brownies, choco muffins? And when I open the fridge (even now I can remember how it was before Christmas, so tiny and overstuffed) I see a few jars with dessert, layered, topped with cream. Guess that image slipped in from a magazine ad. Talking to the person (unidentified) next to me, I say “if I’ll serve you everything in here, you’ll turn diabetic for sure.” Laughing. Mellow mood.
I remember cutting thin slices from the apple pie. Like I’d taken a slice in my mouth. I think. Leaving the big chunk for Don. Because mom always was mindful to bake a special cake for him. She never understood diets or lifestyles. Never figured how not to eat this or that, and why. For the kids, she baked according to her traditional recipes. And I always ate. Because they were baked by mom. Because I didn’t want to sadden her.
I wake up. I stare at the window. I realize that I was dreaming. Now I wish to bring the dream back. Twas so well in my mom’s apartment. Near the fridge. Feeling her presence. And others’ too. Even if seeing no one.
Upon waking up, I wish to know, to remember, who the guest was. Not a woman, clearly. I manifested a reverential attitude towards him. Forcing my mind to identify the guest, I chase the dream away, the context dissipates, slowly. How interesting, to sense the dissolution of a dream.
Got it! Figured it out. Father Zoltán, from our church. He was visiting my dream. What was he doing there? In my dream?? During All Hallows’ Night?
There was a little happening, today at church. I know: you may conclude that I’m drifting. If you wish, then you may. But I cannot help myself. I can’t believe that everything is nothing more than happenstance, coincidence, imagination. Especially when it takes place at church.
Entering, I go ahead to light a few candles. On the side opposite to where I usually stay. It’s a little church. We’ve got our places, the same. I lighten up the candles. Next to me, on a bench, an old lady. Suddenly, she stands up, shows me some coins and asks me to lighten up some more candles, for her as well. Then she returns to sit on the bench.
Before the service, I notice her sitting on another bench, one row in front of mine, on the opposite side of the aisle – where I have my usual place. We hold hands during Our Father.
Feeling her hand in mine, it was a moment of revelation, noticing how much of a resemblance to mom – in her final years. An embarrassed, shy old lady. So meek. Wearing a dark green coat and a little hat – green, darker. Her hand, so warm and velvety. Tears in my eyes.
Today is a celebration of joy. And I couldn’t help myself.
Like other times, I say Our Father in tears. Saying Peace be with you. Tears dripping on my cheeks. Didn’t want this to happen. But it did.
What is this? An imagination?
Is this nothing but a dream?
What is a dream?
What is a touch?