In the first year after my brother passed, I had a number of dreams in which he appeared and they always left me feeling helpless. I talked about them with my COPE group and was surprised to hear people say that they wished they had more dreams about their siblings because they believed dreams were “visits”. Until that point, I’m not sure I thought about dreams as visits but once my perspective shifted, the kind of dreams I had with my brother, and the feelings they evoked in me, also shifted. Dreams with him no longer left me feeling unsettled, they left me feeling wistful but also hopeful. I realize those feelings evoke almost opposite emotions, but I think it’s a relatable concept.
We lost our dog, Taylor, in April; she was the last dog of ours that my brother met while he was alive. It wasn’t until I started looking at pictures from when we first got her, that I could truly see how much her body had been through in the last years of her life; she looked like a completely different dog. Shortly after that, I dreamt that I was driving my brother somewhere. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw Taylor in the backseat. She looked so healthy and was smiling so big, but she wasn’t wearing her collar or leash. When I stopped the car to drop my brother off, he called Taylor’s name. I asked him not to because she wasn’t wearing a collar or leash and I was worried she would jump out of the car. Of course, he called her name again, opened the back door for her, and encouraged her to get out. I was so mad but before I could say anything to him, he looked at me and said, “Don’t worry- she’s with me now” and together they walked away from me. When I woke up, I couldn’t tell if I was feeling sad because I missed them or if I was happy because they were together. I realized I was crying and smiling because I was feeling both of those feelings at the same time.
A few days after my brother died, I was in Target picking up some things for shiva, when an announcement was made to the entire store. They were calling for someone, “Lewis…Lewis B.”, to please go to the front of the store. I remember feeling confused and sort of looking around the store, as if I was looking for my Lewis B, my brother, to be walking to the front of the store. I left Target thinking that was such an uneasy and uncomfortable coincidence. It took me some time to understand that what happened wasn’t a coincidence, it was a sign from my brother. When I realized that, I still felt uneasy but also excited- if he could do that, what else could he do?
A few weeks ago, I stopped at a store and parked my car in an almost empty lot. The lot was so empty that my car was the only one parked in the entire row. When I came out of the store not even 15 minutes later, a car was parked next to mine. As I walked to my car, I said out loud “Really? There’s an entire parking lot- they had to park in the spot right next to me?” It’s not that I cared, I just thought it was so strange. Once I emptied the shopping cart, I walked over to put it away and walked past the car next to mine. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The license plate read “LBS 7681”: LBS are brother’s full initials, followed by 7/6 which was not only the date this happened but also the date of my brother’s funeral, followed by 81, the year in which I was born. A sign from my brother for sure- it made me feel like he really wanted me to know it was him. What felt strange to me suddenly felt comforting.
I’ve received signs like that from my brother while I am awake, he has visited me while I sleep, and according to a medium I sat with a few years ago, my brother also stands right next to me every time I heat up my coffee at work. I can’t see him and I can’t really be sure he’s there, but there are days when I will say something out loud to him- just in case he is there because I don’t want him to think he’s pulling a fast one on me. There are days when I accidentally spill my coffee all over the inside of the microwave or, worse, all over myself when I don’t put the lid back on the cup correctly. On those days, what I most often say out loud is “thanks a lot, jerk”…because it’s still nice to be able to blame some things on my older brother.
Who knows if these are really signs from my brother and not just coincidences? Who knows if my dreams are actually visits and not just my subconscious giving me what I wish I had- new memories with my brother. My sibling group routinely talks about dreams and signs- some people are firm believers and have experienced it for themselves, some people believe but haven’t received or noticed any signs yet, some people don’t believe in visits or signs, and some people don’t know what to think or what to believe. We all share our stories, our experiences, and what they mean to each of us- and I think that’s the point. Our experience is ours, how we think or feel or interpret them is up to us, and our thoughts and feelings can change over time. I think the important thing is for us to share with each other because chances are, someone else is asking the same questions or wondering the same things. So consider this an open invitation to share any coincidences, signs, dreams, or visits you’ve experienced with the person you’ve lost. I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to be heard: email@example.com