Anne Notations

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


In my early 30s I had pneumonia. For the better part of a week I thought I just had a bad case of the flu. Essentially I was prostrate with fever and low oxygen and dehydration. I lay in our darkened bedroom on sweaty, twisted sheets. I didn't eat for days and drank but little sips of water. I drifted in and out of sleep. Basically, I was too sick to realize how sick I was.

One feverish day I dreamed that I was sitting in a hospital bed on white sheets in a white room filled with brilliant, ultra-white light that streamed in through gauzy white curtains. Seemingly from nowhere, my former colleague John appeared and sat in a white wooden chair at the foot of my bed. That would be the same John who had died a half-year earlier of malignant melanoma.

He gazed benignly at me.

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

"I heard you needed company."


When I awoke, I asked Michael to drive me to the doctor across town. Dr. MacDonald said I had a bad case of pneumonia. He put me on antibiotics, and within a few days I was restored.

The dream stayed with me and does to this day. It was vivid, real, eerily tranquil. It was not a nightmare … more like a vision in which I was free from fear and any other strong emotion.

Perhaps the veil – the wispy cosmic membrane between temporal life and vast eternity – had torn a bit as my condition declined. While he'd been a great guy in life, apparently I was not ready then to join my friend on the other side.


  • Awesome, Anne. Thank you.

    By Blogger Marsosudiro, at Thu Nov 19, 11:04:00 PM EST  

  • Wow. Reminds me of a story of a young man was sick and everyone was bemoaning his condition and singing his praises.

    One great rabbi took a strange route he shouted that this fellow had not accomplished so much and wasn't so great. The boy got better.

    Later they asked the rabbi about his words. He said that if a person has done all that's needed of them on earth then it time for them to be taken to heaven, but if there's more to do then they get to stay here. So he played up the element of what this person still had to do here...

    Also reminds me of the story of Rabbi Yisrael Salanter who was walking late one night. He saw a light shining from the shoemaker's shop. He asked the artisan why he was still up and doing his job. The man pointed to his candle and said, "As long as the candle burns, I can still fix."

    For the rest of his life Rabbi Salanter made those words a mantra and was heard walking and saying, "As long as the candle (i.e. soul) still burns, I can fix.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Fri Nov 20, 06:12:00 AM EST  

  • Sounds like a visit to me.

    By Blogger bozoette, at Fri Nov 20, 04:38:00 PM EST  

  • Awesome story, Anne. Gave me the good kinda chills.

    Each generation in my family has stories I love to listen to about moments like that, and the tranquility that you mentioned is present in all of them. For me, I woke up in the middle of one of my bad flares with the memory of my grandfather telling me I couldn't go with him yet because I still had work to do. It stays with me, because I guess I have to take his word for it. :)

    I think it's wonderful that the spirits/energy of the people we care about continue like that, and I'm glad your friend made sure you got the help you needed.

    By Blogger BrideOfPorkins, at Fri Nov 20, 07:56:00 PM EST  

  • So, the anniversary of John's death is next Tuesday. Interesting that you'd write this now. I don't think you told me about this dream when it happened, but it's incredibly moving even 24 years later. (Can it really be 24 years later?) Definitely a visit. John was a great guy.

    By Blogger Katherine Hinds, at Fri Nov 20, 08:20:00 PM EST  

  • Whoa, Kath... I did not remember that John's death anniversary was this month. I'd begun writing this post about 3 months ago but saved it as a draft. For some reason I noticed it in my file directory and felt like finishing it and posting. Life sure is weird in wondrous ways.

    By Blogger Anne D., at Fri Nov 20, 08:27:00 PM EST  

  • "weird in wondrous ways" - i like that.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Sun Nov 22, 03:44:00 AM EST  

  • I believe...

    By Blogger r_weeks, at Mon Nov 23, 02:15:00 PM EST  

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