It had been an emotionally draining day. My eyes burned from exhaustion and it was relief to close them. I felt my body relax and was on the brink of slumber when I was jolted awake by a knock upon my door. “Go away” I groaned.
“Mom, let me in” the baritone voice of my oldest son shocked me to an upright position. It has been a long time since he visited my dreams.
“I am so glad you are here.” I said as I pulled open the door. He stood there with a grin on his face. He looked exactly as I remembered him. An older replica of this brother, except his eyes shined a bright blue instead of grey. I reached up and brushed the hair out his eyes and his smile deepened until his dimples shown. How I miss him. Tears stung my eyes.
“Don’t,” he pleaded. “We have to talk”.
I took a deep breath and swallowed the tears. “I know, have you seen what the neighbors have done to our spot?” I asked sitting on the bed.
“Yeah” he said sitting next to me. “It sure changes the feel of it doesn’t it?”
“It’s awful and I am so upset.”
“I know you are.”
I jumped up and paced in front of him. “That place was special to me, to us! You know how many hours I have sat at that lakeshore, dealing with the pain of losing you.”
“Let’s go take a look.” He said.
We stood at the lakeshore viewing the damage. A small group of trees and brush had separated the shoreline from the grassy field of the greenbelt owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority or TVA. When I sat on the shore, the tree line would create a barrier between the neighbors, giving me the privacy I needed. The neighbors had spent the last two days clearing the brush and trimming the trees. I looked up into the treetops and saw no evidence of the cranes that use to nest there.
We walked towards the shore. He motioned towards the rock I used to sit upon. A vision of me sat upon the rock. We watch her passionately write in a notebook. She looked up, her face shiny with tears. I followed her gaze as she looked out over the lake. A small speck was flying over the water and as it got closer, I noticed it was a crane coming in for the night. I watched her watch the bird glide into the brush behind her, she smiled at the sound of squawking as other birds made room for the new arrival.
“This is worse than the huge boat-dock they installed a few years ago” I told my boy as the vision faded. “You know I love this place and the wildlife that lives here. It is ruined”
“Things change” he said.
“Why did I have to lose this too? Why can’t I have this one small thing?” Tears filled my eyes blurring the landscape. I raise my fist to the clouds, to God. “Why do you keep taking from me? I need something to hold on to”.
“Mom,” he interrupted. “God doesn’t want you to hold on to things. Holding on to things holds you back”. Still holding my hand he guided me towards the water’s edge. Two beached kayaks rested on the rocky shore.
“I want to show you something. You up for it?” He asked.
Nodding through my tears, I allowed him to guide me into my kayak. “Ready?” He asked. We followed a narrow inlet that opened up into a secluded cove. White egrets glided in a zigzag pattern looking for a place to roost. Blue herons spotted the shoreline looking for an evening snack. He pointed with his paddle towards a bird that was flying low over the water. It was the type of crane that nested in the trees that the neighbor took down. I watch it fly to the shore and perched in a nearby tree.
“Mom” he said. “Do you need the shoreline when you have the lake? Maybe it is time to move on” He gestured to our surroundings. A school of minnows rained on the water’s surface and a huge fish somersaulted creating circle ripples of waves. I watched the rings get bigger and bigger until they faded.
“Life is filled with events,” he continued. “It sends waves of change, some small like those minnows and some huge like that fish. Denying or resisting change is like trying to stop those rings from expanding. Your acceptance of change,” He paused, looking at me, as if to make sure I was listening, “your acceptance of loss expands your world.”
I stared into his face, trying to etch this scene into my mind. Do I accept that he is gone? The pain of acknowledging that pierced my soul and it almost made me cry out. “It is so hard” I said.
“Yep” was all he said. I looked at him and he was grinning. I laughed and wiped away the tears. “Yep” I agreed.
We floated together until the sun set behind the mountains, the water turned smooth likes glass and a deep blue, the same color of his eyes. I knew our time would end soon. I had so much I wanted to say, but I swallowed the words and only said, “I love you.”
“I know” he answered, his voice far away.
I closed my eyes trying to keep him with me. When I opened them, dawn was brightening the window of my bedroom. I laid in bed for a long time, digesting the lesson of the dream. I allowed the emotions to run their course. I was angry about the change and saddened over the loss of my special place. I tried not to resist the change and allow it it expand me. I envision the rings made by the fish. It will be my visual as I adjust to this new loss.