As some of my readers know, my oldest sister died in February. She was living in Lithuania, and I had not seen her for two years, although we were in touch by letters and email until just a few days before the end.
In fact, one thing keeping me from working more both on this blog and other writing has been my new part-time job as her executor and trustee of her family trust.
Some time in March (I forgot to write it down), I did dream of her. I pay attention to dreams about the recently deceased. There is a special quality to them. At times they seem to carry a definite message from the Other Side.
I tossed a couple such dreams into “Ghosts,” an essay about my parents that I wrote partly to show my creative-nonfiction students that such work could be sold for money.
The dream about my sister, however, was not as clear-cut as those I summarized in “Ghosts.” In it I was following her across down a sidewalk at a small shopping center, carying my cat Victor in my arms. For some reason, I wanted to show him to her.
Today, as the Brits like to say, I’m gobsmacked. I had it all wrong. I thought the dream was about her, but it was not.
It took a message from a friend in Arizona to enlighten me. Her dog may have terminal cancer, and she was talking about how animals will sometimes tell you when it’s time to go.
Victor had been sick in late December, including a Christmas Day visit to the 24-hour emergency vet. Because we could not leave him at home alone, with the cat-sitter dropping by every other day, we canceled our planned trip to Arizona.
In April, his medical problems returned. With him sprawled on the metal table in the examining room, clearly in pain, M. and I made the tough choice between more treatment and euthanasia.
But not until my Arizona friend wrote to me about her dog did I understand the dream from weeks before. It was not just about my late sister.
A month before the vet gave him the injection, I had already carried him in my arms to the Land of the Dead.