I'm missing my dad a lot today. He's been gone a little over a month, and every day there are reminders that he isn't with us anymore. It's so hard to believe that I can't just pick up the phone and hear his familiar voice answer, "Hello, Pa- TREE -sha."
Last night I had a recurring dream, and this morning I thought about something my dad always wanted to do... he wanted to figure out what makes dreams happen. He thought dreams were so interesting, and he wanted to know what caused them - why we dream the things we do.
I read recently that dreams are where we live out our hopes and fears. If we have a fear of heights we might have recurring dreams about falling or flying (I can bear witness to this.) If we fear speaking in front of people, we might dream about standing before a crowd without our notes...or our clothes. My mom used to always dream about losing one of us children. She "only" had three kids, but we were always disappearing in her dreams... I can't tell you how many times I've had the same dream, multiplied by (almost) four. I always wake up from those nightmares and have to go count all of my sleeping children just to make sure they're all safe.
Often times my dreams are filled with my hopes...I'll dream about our church being filled to overflowing with people, and there are so many visitors coming in that we don't have room for them to sit. Of course my fears can be thrown into the mix as well - I'm usually sitting at the piano in my underwear in those dreams, and I cannot for the life of me find my music when we start to sing. Other dreams are of my family living in a gigantic house with bedrooms for each child, and every room is decorated like my Pinterest Boards. I wake up and look at my simple bedroom furniture ... or lack thereof ... and quickly close my eyes, trying to get back into my dream.
So last night I dreamed a dream that I've had for three and a half years now...it's one I blogged about last year in a post called Enough. Maybe it was triggered by a conversation on Instagram last night - a friend had asked about that post, as she wanted to recommend it to another mom. Or maybe it came because of my frustration with Lily's speech yesterday - she was sitting in her high chair asking for the same thing over and over again, and I had no clue what she was saying. She said the same word exactly the same way so many times, that I knew she knew what she wanted, and she followed it again and again with a heartfelt "please!". I got her out of her high chair and carried her over to the refrigerator, asking her to point out what she was asking for, but she just shook her head no, plopped her thumb in her mouth and gave up. I asked her to sign the word for me, but she buried her head into my shoulder and refused to talk. I hated that I couldn't figure out what she wanted, and it frustrated me that she gave up so easily.
Whatever the trigger, I dreamed that my little girl could talk last night. And the dream was so vivid, so absolutely real, that I woke up wondering if it was true.
In my dream, Lily was sitting in her highchair singing. Her hair fell across her forehead in a little wave, and she smiled the same crinkly-eyed smile that I'm so used to seeing every day. I don't remember the words to her song, but I know that she sang them so clearly, so precisely, that in my dream I was amazed. I asked her a question and she answered it directly, and her voice sounded exactly like it does "in real life" - but without the delays. Words just flowed right our of her mouth like a stream, and I remember thinking - this is magical. It felt like a whole world opened up between us, and the more she spoke, the bigger I smiled.
And as always happens with dreams - I woke up. Hayden had been stirring in his co-sleeper, and his soft cries had roused me from my sleep. The sound of Lily's voice was still echoing in my ears as I pulled my baby into bed with me ... it was as if two worlds were colliding with each other and I didn't know which one to believe.
It was dark in our room, and Lily was curled up beside me in bed...I looked at my little girl sleeping so peacefully....
...and I realized it was just a dream.
And there it was again, that knife-like feeling just under my ribs, the one I felt just last week at the thought of Lily not being a mama some day, the one that says, "This isn't fair."
I wish I could say that I rallied quickly to the path I know I need to take - the one that looks truth in the eye and doesn't blink. But for me the nighttime always seems to be where I battle my inner demons the most, and it's harder for me to face my fears than in the light of day.
So I nursed Hayden back to sleep and tried to will away that ugly feeling, and I would love to say that I poured out my heart to God in prayer and found comfort there...but really I just fell asleep.
And in the morning, I woke up and saw the sweetest little girl lying in bed beside me - her hair falling over her forehead in a little wave - and it was gone. That terrible feeling of loss and sadness and this isn't fair was completely gone, and in its place was my beautiful daughter whom I wouldn't trade for the world.
I can't explain my love for Lily, or how that love just changes everything - but it does.
Sure, I have hopes and dreams for her future- I want so much to hear her speak as clearly and as meaningfully as the Lily of my dreams. We have moments of frustration, and maybe Down syndrome is to blame for some of that. But any mom or dad can tell you there are moments of frustration or sadness raising any child - it's just part of the journey called parenting.
Raising Lily is a challenge, and I know it will continue to be challenging. Speech is the biggest challenge we've faced so far, and I know it's something we'll be working on for a long time.
But in the mean time, I have this little golden girl to enjoy, and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank God for entrusting me with her care. I'm praying every day that my dream comes true, but until then, I have a beautiful little flower to love and to nurture every day, my sunshine...a perfect Lily.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8