Sometimes my dreams collide with reality in unexpected ways. I’ve had presentient dreams of unimportant things and life-changing things. I often dream of people who have passed away. Not right away, but a few months after their death, people visit me in a dream to tell me that everything is okay. One visit was from a co-worker who died in his forties; he came to tell me that it was all about a grand plan to experience many different things. Recently, the visit was decidedly different.
First, I should explain that in my younger years, I had a mentor who was quite gruff with everyone. I first met him when I was sent to learn how to develop a corrective action plan for a failed security audit. He was irritated and cursed liberally as he tried to explain. I gave him extra points for creative cursing, and his manner didn’t phase me. I asked all the questions I needed so that I could develop what was needed. He stayed late after work to help me. He acted like I was the stupidest person in the world at first, but he decided to teach me a thing or two. He wasn’t sure about me until I conducted a security investigation and he took my investigatory report and fact checked every single thing. It was all accurate, and he was surprised; he didn’t see that very often. He decided to take me under his wing, and we developed a great working relationship. We got a lot of work done, and he often regaled me with stories of his long military and commercial careers. He eventually taught me a lot about the legal way of thinking and regulatory compliance.
Somewhere in there, I demonstrated that I was worth the effort and he somehow became fond of me, in a detached sort of way. Although we were both single, he was old enough to be my father, and the friendship never crossed the line. It was a time before cell phones, and we had been assigned pagers (little boxes that delivered a short digital message, like a phone number to call). Once, not knowing he had left work for the day, I paged him to call me. He stopped driving in a pouring rain to stand at an outside pay phone to return my call. At that moment, I realized that he was not just a mentor, but a loyal friend. I didn’t know anyone else who would stand in the rain to return my call! Occasionally, my work was scrutinized by the facility’s highest managers, due to the sensitivity of the material. At the large and contentious review meetings, my small part of the much bigger review would be questioned. My mentor would stand and defend my work even though he was not in my chain of command, fielding questions and showing his support. The scrutiny would quickly pass and the results accepted. It was a relief to have someone in my corner.
My mentor wrote my recommendation for law school, attended my wedding, and attended my law school graduation. He avoided the party (not surprised) but sought me out before the ceremony to congratulate me and wish me well. I think he was pleased to see me finish what we’d started. Within a few years, we both left the company and went our separate ways; there was never a real goodbye. I tried to keep up a loose relationship via email, but it was clear that wasn’t going to work, so I let the friendship go. We fell out of touch.
A week or so ago, my mentor visited me in a dream. He was trying hard to get me to remember how to communicate. At the end of the dream, we discussed communication methods, and he smiled broadly. I remembered! He would try it out. I awoke and told my husband that I thought my friend had passed. Before I searched for an obituary, I turned to my dream journal. I recalled dreaming about this man before.
I found an entry from almost a year ago, about a dream so vivid and real that I had no doubt it was a visit rather than just a jumbled story. My mentor seemed to radiate power as he expressed his affection and hugged me; he clearly had not forgotten me in the intervening years. The entire dream was so unusual in its emotional charge and message that I awoke convinced that he had died. I searched online for his obituary and was both confused and relieved that there was none.
After reading about my previous dream, I searched again for an obituary; this time I found it. Oddly enough, my previous dream visit from him took place two days before his death. I imagine he was in a coma, or slipping in and out of consciousness; during those times he was “gone” he was visiting his old friends. He never married or had children, but he had friends to whom he wanted to say goodbye. He has been gone for almost a year – eleven months — and now he’s ready to communicate.