This is long and it’s not something I like to share. Two people in my family have passed, and both times I’ve been visited after the fact. After the second time, my family requested that I write what happened. They found it comforting, so maybe you will as well…
This took place shortly after my grandfather, Pop-Pop, passed rather unexpectedly on Cape Cod, MA.
Sleep is a very distinct feeling for me. I’m one of those people who am always aware or the fact I’m dreaming. That being said, I’m usually just a drifter along my dream, perfectly aware it is happening but unable to stop it. Often, if I concentrate hard enough, I can manipulate the dream world just enough to change something, but once I let my concentration go, it reverts back to the story line, and I am stuck until I wake.
Sometimes, I can control the dream just enough to skip parts, rewind, or play other sections. In that way, my dreams are rarely ever lineal and hardly ever make sense once I’m conscious. I just seem to be playing a part with very little free will.
This “dream” has none of those elements.
Following the news about Pop-Pop, I fell asleep for the night, much like every night, where my consciousness seemed to drift below my body, entering the eddies of my subconscious. Suddenly, however, I snapped awake. But, instead of being in my own bed, I snapped upwards, as if into a higher plane of my consciousness. I went beyond the feeling of awake. I wasn’t quite sure what was happening, but I felt more alert and awake than I ever have before. It was as if a different set of eyes were suddenly open. And I was in a white room, sitting, with a door across from me.
It felt similar to a doctor’s waiting room, but there was absolutely nothing to distinguish it. I can’t remember there were other people with me, as I was concentrating on how I managed to get here and how I would manage to leave. Suddenly, the door opened, and a woman motioned me forward. “You can come see him now,” she told me.
I remember she had dark hair (but not black), was pretty (but not beautiful), and was probably in her mid-40s. She had a dismissive air about her, but it didn’t seem directed towards me. It was similar to how a seasoned waitress treats you if she’s very busy and you ask her a question. She seems hustled, but spares some patience for you, because she realizes it’s not your fault. I followed her through the doorway and into a hallway, with many people sitting around chit-chatting. I dodged a waitress, realizing we were in a restaurant.
I walked past tables to my right and a breakfast bar starting down my left. I saw touches of red everywhere, enough that it reminded me of the Stewed Tomato, a place Pop-Pop and I had frequented together often when I was young. And then I saw him, sitting on a stool at the bar, waiting for me. It suddenly made sense to me, this was something that we had shared in life, and it would be the easiest place to meet up again.
I reached him and gave him a hug. I started to tear up saying, “I miss you, and I never got a chance to say goodbye!”
He looked a little uncomfortable with my public display of emotion, but motioned me to sit. “I’m fine, but sit down and have something to eat.”
I glanced at the table in front of him and saw coffee, wheat toast, with a poached egg on top. “I’ll take the same,” I told the cook.
“We miss you.” I repeated. “We are going to you funeral soon. A lot of us are up with Nanny already.”
He nodded his head, as if this wasn’t news to him. We proceeded to talk about all of our happy memories: waking up in the morning to go to breakfast before everyone else. Walking along the beach. Finding the arrow heads. The hiking trips across Wing Island in Brewster. Looking over his rock collections. Learning about his jig saw. Sunset walks along Brewster’s beach. Stopping for ice-cream on the way home at the Brewster store. The poached eggs on toast were good; just enough salt, and the bread was just a little soggy from the egg.
After a while of reminiscing, I told him how he was a really good Grandfather to us. He thanked me. Then I brought myself to ask the burning question, “How is it being dead?”
He shrugged, “It’s a lot like being alive.”
A little while later, the same woman who brought me in came back. She told him, “You have to get going now.”
He got out of his stool, as did I. We embraced one more time, and I told him that I loved him, and goodbye. She brought me back through the restaurant, and through that door. I dropped, and the drop woke me enough back into my bed.
I called my mother the next day to retell the story, as I wasn’t quite sure what happened. I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but in the very least, this was the nicest thing my consciousness/sub-consciousness had ever done for me. I had been given a chance to say my goodbyes. And, regardless of the factuality of the situation, I felt like he was happy to be where he was.
Jesse and I went up to Cape Cod to attend the funeral. Once there, we stopped at a restaurant for food. It was the restaurant where the Stewed Tomato used to be, taken over by new owners. I had found out the night before that Pop-Pop often spent his mornings here.
Once I entered the restaurant, I had an eerie feeling a familiarity. The touches of red were the same. The seating was how I remembered it, but backwards. I walked to the back of the restaurant, and realized that in my dream/vision/whatever, I had walked from the kitchen towards the front. Everything snapped into place. I started crying, but I had to know more.
When I spoke to the cook, I tried to explain my dream. I had never been here, but I had sat in *that* seat with my grandfather and had whole wheat toast with a poached egg. He told me that my grandfather sat in that exact seat almost every day, and ordered exactly that order.
I don’t know much about what happens to someone after they die, but this has changed what I think is possible.