Hands Holding Plant
Growthfrom pain to perspective

Dreams of John

“John’s dead.  He shot himself this morning.”

Disbelief.  “Our John?”


The shock knocks me to my knees.  When the meaning hits, a gut-felt sob erupts and releases a torrent of tears. Not John, our rock.  The one we always counted on for steadiness.

John and I had worked together for ten years, counseling children and families in a community agency.  He was British, with a quick, wry wit, who was a wizard with kids.  I don’t think I ever met a finer child therapist.  Most everyone who knew him felt the same way.  Over the years, he must have helped thousands of young minds and hearts to head in a better direction.

The office was part of a larger bureaucracy, but our supervisor Bettianne was adept at buffering us from the department demands that threatened to undermine the human emphasis on healing and relationship.

Eventually, I moved on, but John stayed to continue the good fight.  He was deeply dedicated and profoundly committed to the mission.  Unfortunately, the bureaucracy finally got its way, closed the office, and absorbed the staff into the larger program.  The change came at a price, a steep one.  Everything that John valued about relationship, compassion, and commitment was forced into a far corner by escalating demands for more paperwork, rigid rules, and ever increasing restrictions on services.  John toughed it out for as long as he could, then opted for an early retirement.  Few knew the toll it took.  Not until the news.

His funeral was a blur of hugs, tears, and stumbling words of disbelief.  It was all unreal.

The first dream arrived about three weeks after.  John is struggling to stand.  He tells me it feels like he lost his spine.  A musician is with him.  John wants me to write a song, explaining his death.  It is to include the lines:  “No one who knows me will believe what I’ve done, or understand how this could happen.  It’s just over time, too little left of me that’s mine.”  I did as he directed.  It helped me get a glimpse into his suffering and desperate, deep despair.

The second dream followed about a year later.  I am walking into a large gymnasium, full of children.  I hear John’s distinct British accent.  There he is, dressed in his characteristic tweed coat and tie, directing the children’s activities.  He stops to talk.  I can’t help but notice he looks whole and happy, doing what he always loved to do.  When the dream is completed, I sense a new kind of peace.

In the third dream, I find John in a twilight setting.  We sit and talk.  He explains that he is preparing for some kind of shift in level.  I gather that he has recovered from his life, death, and loss of purpose.  And now it is time for him to assume a new duty.  It is not clear what that is to be.

The fourth dream unfolded shortly before the children’s massacre in Connecticut.  I see John busily writing out something.  He is wearing a yellow shirt.  It reminds me of a sunbeam.  I call to him.  He waves me off, indicating that he must complete this message for me.  The dream ends.  The connection does not.  Soon after, I begin to get the sense of another song.  This time it is one of healing, meant for the families who have lost loved ones, suddenly, with no goodbyes, and no sense to be made of the loss.

John’s compassion and commitment have risen to a new level, one that I struggle to understand.  But I take comfort in knowing that there is far more to this universe than traditions can tell, and that the souls of those who suffer do not fall into endless night, but rise into the arms of a loving Light who ensures that all will be well, whether we understand or not.