Weighty Matters

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Love, Loss, and Hugs Remembered

on February 18, 2014

My father died when I was 25. For the year or two prior to his death, I’d experienced a good weight loss. In fact, I lost about 100 pounds. It wasn’t too long after his death that I began to eat and eat and eat again. Yes, I eventually put back on all of the weight that I’d lost.

In the year before my mother was diagnosed, I’d been on another good losing effort. During the year of her illness, I began to gain back the weight. Wow, I clearly remember my sister-in-law trying to counsel me to not hurt myself that way. Obviously, I couldn’t stop myself. The pounds added up and then more piled on. The gaining trend continued for 13 years, broken occasionally by temporary diet successes, but eventually I grew to my heaviest weight ever. That’s where I was before my weight loss surgery in 2012.

Clearly, with my eating disorder food and overeating have been included in my coping mechanisms for grief. Instead of focusing on my parents as my greatest inspirations, my heroes, I only knew the great gaping wounds in my heart. I was in so much pain and used food to try to fill the holes so that I wouldn’t hurt anymore.

Mom’s been gone 15 years now and Dad 30. I still miss them every day. I cherish my memories of them and sometimes, I get very lucky and see one or both of them in my dreams. This happened last night. I don’t remember all of the details but I was back in our family home in New Jersey. I’d just woken up and Mom came into my room to talk. I can’t even remember what we talked about, but she said she needed a hug so I opened up my arms and held her.

I definitely can remember more than a few times that year she was so sick when we sat and hugged each other, drawing comfort and some serenity in the moment. Friends, this dream was so vivid that I could feel the hug again. Everything from the weight of her leaning to the wrap of her arms to the warmth. It was like an actual Mom hug, not a wispier, less-substantial dream version. So real that even after I woke up, I could still feel it.

Even though I knew it was, in reality, a dream, it strongly imprinted on me to the point that I was able to carry it with me through my day. I can’t really explain it. I’m considering it a form of muscle memory that was brought forward out of my subconscious by my dream state. I don’t want to question it too much either, but prefer instead to consider it a gift.

I have friends who believe in ghosts. Actually, I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen at least one in my life. Long story so I won’t go into it now. Some of the friends who believe in ghosts think that when a loved one appears to us in a dream it’s because their spirit is reaching out to contact us. I believe there is some sort of afterlife after our deaths, even if I can’t quite picture what it looks like in my mind. I prefer to believe that I will see my loved ones again. In the meantime, I’m so very glad that I saw and hugged Mom again in my dream.

As my journey goes on, even though I’m determined to make my goal and then learn to maintain my new lifestyle, weight and fitness level, sometimes my spirit gets a little weary. When I hit those periods, encouragement helps. So, whether last night’s dream was a visitation, or whether it was my own need calling up my Mom memory, I felt like I received her encouragement. In my dream, Mom acknowledged my strength and this helped me to remember my strength too.

It’s been another good day. I am grateful.

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3 responses to “Love, Loss, and Hugs Remembered

  1. Skye says:

    I think that sometimes grief IS so big it just scoops something out of us. Finding a way to heal from that and cope with the empty place is hard and, for all the times I’ve gone through it, I don’t have a good suggestion for coping. My way is to shut down. I have had dreams about my family, sometimes very vivid ones that follow me into the day (not always in a happy way). I generally think of them as coming from the subconscious, but it’s not like I know what actually happens when we die, so it could be anything!

    It’s great that you have this self-awareness. And it’s great that you had such a lovely dream. I have a feeling that you will have healthier ways to cope with any losses or great challenges in the future.

  2. Marti91257 says:

    This gave me shivers…
    A few years after dad passed I had a very similar dream in which he touched me on the shoulder and I *finally* got to tell him that I loved him. Like your dream, it was so real and so vivid that I woke up and could still feel the impression of where he had touched me – that lingering warmth and tingle where he placed his hand. I’m SURE it was a “visit” and the fact that I dreamed about him just before virtually every major change in my life, whether I was aware of the impending changes or not, reinforces my belief that he was watching over me. Ironically, I haven’t dreamt (dreamed?) about him since the divorce… LOL
    I think it’s so neat that you had that dream, Mary!

    • Mary Stella says:

      Marti, whether these dreams are visits or our subconscious helping us tap into memories when we need them, I don’t know. I’m just glad they happen. Thanks for sharing your experience too.

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