I simply cannot explain how much my father meant to me. He was my hero.
In 2003, when I was 18 years old, my father was diagnosed with brain cancer. After going to see a specialist due to headache pain, doctors discovered five large stage-4 (advanced stage; inoperable) tumors embedded deep in his brain. The doctors gave him 12-18 months to live… it took 6. He underwent chemo and every possible alternative approach (including Eastern medicine, which many scoffed at him for) …. He lost his health, his strength, his weight, his hair, his sight, his bowel control, his mind, and eventually, his life. It was awful to watch.
My father died on February 29, 2004. He is buried in Restland Cemetery in Dallas, TX.
[c. Fall 2004]
I had this dream in college, several months after my father passed away.
I found myself standing in very large room or lobby area. I was surrounded by people. Everyone was dressed in black formal wear. It felt we were all at the reception of my father’s funeral.
I was holding a drink and standing still, observing everything around me. I was sad, and alone. I did not recognize any of the people. The people were all having quiet, surface conversations among themselves. They were all talking about my dad: sharing stories, talking about what he would like about things if he were here, or how we would act if he were still here… I remember feeling so alone listening to them, thinking, “You don’t know him like I knew him.”
I stood in the midst of them, but I was not talking to any of them. I quietly sipped my drink. The whole thing felt like a charade. I felt very alone, and I missed my father very much.
I turned around and began to mill around. And suddenly, I saw him: my father. He was just suddenly there. He was standing as I was, in the sea of people but not speaking with them, about 50 yards away directly in front of me. He was looking directly at me, and smiling.
No one was speaking to him. And in the sea of black suits, he stuck out like a sore thumb: he was shining (or something like it in concept).
My father’s clothes were in absolute contrast to the dark black that everyone else was wearing. He wore some kind of white garment. It’s very hard to explain this part. I don’t remember specifics of what the clothes looked like (I couldn’t see – it was too bright) but it felt like some kind of tunic. His clothes were almost shining or dazzling, and so was my father. It was as if Light radiated from him, but it wasn’t “bright” like we think of the word bright. It was something else. It was glorious. I can’t explain this.
I couldn’t see any of the details of the garment that he was wearing, but it was absolutely stunning.
Rather than looking sickly, he looked as healthy as ever.
He was staring directly at me, from a distance of about 50 yards, and smiling. His eyes spoke of his love, his pride, and his comforting encouragement.
I couldn’t believe it. I absolutely could not believe he was here. “Dad?” I whispered in shock.
I began to walk towards him, and he towards me. We moved through the crowd of people towards each other. It was the oddest thing: no one reacted to his presence. It was as if they didn’t recognize him, or couldn’t see him, or both or something else. It was so strange. And I remember thinking, “Why doesn’t anyone recognize him?? Is this really happening???? How in the world is he still alive????”
He moved through the crowd towards me, and I moved towards him.
“Dad!” I exclaimed. We shared the greatest hug I have ever known. It felt like a homecoming.
When we hugged,…. It was so real. I cannot explain this. But that part did not feel like a dream at all. It was beyond it. It was something luminous.
I pulled back to look at him. I was so overjoyed but so confused. How is this all even possible?!?!
Even after this, no one around us noticed him. No one. People continued to murmur and mourn the death of this man, talk about him, not knowing he was standing right here among them. For whatever reason, they couldn’t see him.
“Dad, you’re… alive?!” I asked him. “How?!” He beamed with a radiant smile, his blue eyes twinkling and dancing as he looked into mine. I have never seen such joy and peace in his face before. He didn’t say anything at all; not one word. He looked at me deep in the eyes, and it was like I could feel everything he was feeling, and understand everything in his heart, and I felt such a peace.
More than anything, I felt a comfort. I felt known. I felt understood. And I felt privileged, being able to have this moment with my Dad, and I felt sad that no one else could see him. And I understood that this was for me. That this was a visitation. Something beyond a dream. It was very, very real.
We hugged again, and I was crying tears of joy. I could feel how proud he was of me. At the same time, I could feel the strangeness of having no one else to share this moment with, no one else in the room who could see or experience what I was seeing and experiencing.
And then I woke up.