A dream featuring her late husband’s peculiar clothing reveals a miraculous message from above.
Posted in , Jul 23, 2021
The news was unbearably tragic. My friend Ginny’s husband, Mark, had died. Only two summers earlier, we’d celebrated their marriage. Ginny and Mark had found true love in each other after they’d both been through painful divorces. It was a joyous wedding, full of laughter, toasts and excitement about new beginnings. At the end, Ginny had thrown the bouquet with gusto as all of our friends cheered. I’d left the celebration thanking God for giving my friend the fairy-tale ending she deserved. But it had been cut short.
I wished I could teleport to Idaho—where they’d retired—and wrap Ginny in a big hug. Where was God in all of this? Why would he bring Mark into Ginny’s life just to take him away so soon? If only I knew then what I was to learn later.
Ginny and I go way back. We were best friends in high school, where we’d bonded in the drama program.
That was back in California, where we were raised and where we went to church together and sang in the choir. Over the years, we kept in touch, even after I had settled in New York and she moved from state to state. When our paths crossed and we were able to visit with each other, we caught up in person, chatting away like old times.
During one of these visits, she shared that her first marriage was crumbling. She tried heroically to keep it going, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Then she met Mark online, in the chat room of a writing group. It was love at first log-in, the two of them discovering a shared wit and playful outlook on life. He was a reference librarian at the College of New Rochelle, smart, clever, funny. They got engaged. She got a job in New York and moved here to be closer to him as they planned their wedding.
I was flattered to be asked to be part of the ceremony, to read a passage of Scripture and—in a nod to our friendship’s beginnings—to sing a song. I chose some verses from the Song of Songs, a declaration of earthly love that mirrors God’s heavenly love. And I picked something to sing from the musical Pippin, “With You,” all about the transforming power of love. “My days are brighter than morning air…” That would be Ginny. With Mark.
A year and a half after their wedding, they retired and moved out west to Boise, where they got a devastating diagnosis. Mark had Stage IV colon cancer. Not much could be done. Just palliative care. Mark came home from the hospital, growing thinner, weaker and more afraid.
Unlike Ginny, he hadn’t grown up going to Sunday school. He didn’t have a strong faith. Ginny would later tell me that Mark once confessed that he felt like a tree falling down in the woods. Here one minute, gone the next.
“You’re not a tree,” Ginny told him. “You’re so much more than that. You came from God, and you are going back to God,” she said.
Ginny explained the rudiments of her faith. She told him about the life beyond, where he’d see all the people he’d loved and lost.
Slowly, as Mark pondered Ginny’s words, the worry dropped from his face. About a month before he died, he told Ginny, “I’m not afraid anymore.” He knew where he was going. He even promised to save Ginny a seat next to him.
The memorial service was in the stone-lined chapel of the College of New Rochelle, filled with Mark’s friends, colleagues and former students. At Ginny’s request, I sang the song from Pippin once more, praying that I wouldn’t cry, because you can’t sing and cry at the same time.
One day, several weeks after that service, one of their friends, a woman Mark knew from work, called Ginny. She’d had a dream about Mark. An extraordinary vision. He wasn’t skinny or cancer ridden anymore but vital and alive, and full of faith—that gift that Ginny had given him.
Mark was climbing up steps to a stately building that looked like it could have been on campus. Dressed in a green turtleneck and suspenders, he gestured for his friend to follow. “Come, come,” he said, taking big strides. They walked through the front doors into the most glorious library his friend had ever experienced. Books as far as the eye could see. A research librarian’s dream. “This is fantastic,” Mark kept murmuring. “Tell Ginny, this is fantastic. I want her to know.”
She told it all to Ginny. Then she wondered aloud, almost jokingly, “A green turtleneck and suspenders? Who wears turtlenecks these days anyway?”
Ginny knew, though her friend would have no way of knowing it. She remembered a photo she had on her phone. Mark, wearing a green turtleneck and suspenders, not a photo she had ever shared.
When Ginny told me all of this, I thought of the Pippin song: “And time weaves ribbons of memory / To sweeten life when youth is through / But I would need no memories there / If I could share my life with you.” Except now, it took on a new meaning. Life and love shared. Eternally.
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