Christmas Eve night is always filled with excitement and mystery, and last night was no exception. When I was a kid, I remembered so well that I couldn’t wait until Christmas morning and didn’t want to go to bed. When I grew up, Mom confessed to me that I was so excited; she secretly gave me a couple of children aspirin or Benadryl, maybe both, and that was the way the dogs were last night, they couldn’t wait until morning.
We finally went to bed; the dogs cozied up on whatever bed they could get on, but they were mostly on mine. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep. When I drifted off, I was somewhere that I didn’t recognize. Now, I’m sure it was a dream, but it seemed so real. I was in my favorite spot; dogs surrounding me, everyone was happy, playful, and it was sunny with a gentle breeze. I was in “my” heaven…
After picking up a ball that they brought me, I gave it a few tosses, something seemed familiar to me! I’ve seen "that" dog before, but this was a dream. Time went on, and I saw several dogs that appeared in and out of my vision that also seemed familiar.
My Dad and I were best friends and very close, but after he had passed away, I would “see” him, or I thought. Dad usually wore a floppy hat when he walked like some older men, but Dad's was unique. Many times I would be driving down the street near home and would see “Dad” and his hat, for a brief second I knew it was him, I just knew it was. When I got closer, it was someone else, but oh how I wished it was him, just once. I knew it wasn’t Dad's hat because the hat he had on when he died is in my Hope Chest, where I put it that very day. It’s in a sealed plastic bag with “his” smell, something I don’t ever want to forget.
As I ran and played with the dogs in the dream, they seemed so animated and playful. At one time, I even sat down in the grass and let them lick my face like I always do with mine at home, it’s our special time. In the dream, we would explore the meadows and streams, and some even jumped in the water, getting me wet just like at home. As much as we would run and play, some kept looking at a dog in the far distance but always refocused their attention back to me because I had the ball, but they looked. I paid little attention to the dog because I focused on the delightful companions that were with me.
After very little sleep, I awoke in a shudder. I remembered the dream and even smiled because it was peaceful and pure. I moved my hand and felt a warm spot on the bed with an indentation next to my head, but there were no dogs anywhere to be seen, but what I couldn’t get out of my head was a smell I recognized that filled my head.
Growing up, I was a very active little boy, doing all of the mischevious stuff but much more, much more. Fortunately, I got away with most of it and didn’t cause too much damage. Two things directly take me back to my childhood, it was riding horses at my friend's farm and taking them into the lake to cool them off after a hard ride. It was incredible to ride them bareback into the water and be on them when they swam, but what takes me back to that very moment is I remember the smell of the water, I don’t know why but it was fresh, clean and energizing. The second was when I would play in the front of the paneled milk delivery truck.
My best friend and I would climb into the truck when he made deliveries to the house, and there was the smell of pipe smoke that was pleasant, and to this very day, if I smell that brand of tobacco now, I’m ten years old playing in that very milk truck with my best friend. Past studies have shown that memories triggered by smells are more vivid and more emotional than those triggered by sounds, pictures, or words, and I do believe it.
Each dog of mine has a unique smell, but none are the same, and I didn’t know where "that" smell came from this morning. There was black hair on the bed, it was warm to the touch, but the scent was what stumped me, but I know I have smelled it before. The very morning Clancy passed away, he crept into my bed, burrowing his nose under my arm and fell asleep. As I watched him breathed and rubbed his head, he slept peacefully and dreamed… and Christmas Eve night, he watched over me while I dreamed and came home for me…
Christmas gifts come in many forms. To some, it is a baby that was born for us. To others, it is seeing and connecting with family. Others it's stressful and depressing, to kids is presents and packages, but in the famous song “I’ll be home for Christmas" the last line says, "If only in my dreams” is true... last night, I was home, and Clancy was too. I was in his world, and he was again in mine.
As I look back on my dream, I remember it was our rescue dogs that I recognize, and it all came back to me. While I was in "my" heaven in the dream, I was really in their heaven, to be free and to have a home. Time had passed for them, but it's not my time yet, but last night was so real, and in my heart, my Clancy watched over me on Christmas Eve waiting for his master to come home... Merry Christmas. Ken
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