This morning when I woke up I knew that I'd had a very deep sleep, the kind that is often filled with dreams. I lay in bed for a bit to try to get my dreams to come back and when I finally remembered, I became aware that I'd spent the whole night with my Nana. Nana has been dead for almost twenty-five years but when she was alive she was my favorite, and I felt (as did my sisters) that I was her favorite too. I know now in adulthood that what I got from my Nana in childhood was the experience of belonging, of feeling at home, truly, deeply loved for exactly who I was.
In my dream Nana knew her time on earth was coming to an end. She told my sisters and me to take the Christmas tree down and bring it to the basement garbage area of her high rise building. As my sister Katherine and I upended the tree to bring it to the elevator, we could see that the tree still had tons of ornaments that we recognized as sentimental and special. We surreptitiously put the ornaments in our pockets and took the tree down the fourteen floors to the basement. This beginning of my dream made sense to me even though Nana was Jewish and never had a Christmas tree.
When my sister and I got back up to Nana's apartment it seemed that Nana had already passed. Her things were all laid out--- clothes, shoes, jewelry, books. It was like a big, free garage sale. My two sisters and I were wandering around putting things on that Nana had worn. There were other people too who were taking things and trying them on. If they saw me or one of my sisters looking at the item, they would hand it to us and say, "You take it. She was your grandmother." It was civilized and sweet.
When I got out of bed after remembering last night's dream I came downstairs to my desk to write about it and see if more thoughts or feelings came. They did. As I recalled the dream, I also recalled Nana's face, clear as if she were right in front of me, smiling like she did as her three ragamuffin granddaughters came up to 14A ready for a snack or a diet root beer with milk (her specialty). We'd exit into her little lobby and there she'd be, standing with arms wide, smiling big behind her Ray Bans. She'd take us, one by one, into a full, long hug and send us to the kitchen to raid the fridge.
I know that my Nana had a very difficult relationship with many members of her family. Some people found her cold and judgmental. For whatever reason she wasn't this way with my sisters or with me. She gave us a gift, the blessing of feeling deeply loved and accepted for who we were. I don't know enough about how the subconscious works to understand the timing of Nana coming to me in my dreams last night. But I know enough to understand that dreams like this should be listened to and contemplated. I'm taking last night's dream as a reminder to stay true to who I am, to remember that no matter how unmoored I might feel at different times in my life, I can touch back into that memory of Nana-- the warm, smiling eyes and full, long hug.