I awakened to a bittersweet surprise this morning.
Facebook features a reminder of memories you share with friends from your page.
Fumbling for my phone upon waking from a deep sleep, I saw the message, “You have memories with Bill Gandy today.”
Bill is my brother-in-law, who was diagnosed with metastatic cancer on his 53rd birthday – December 15, 2010.
I woke up this morning to a photo from the final day we spent together as I visited him in North Carolina four years ago.
He was staying in New Bern, North Carolina at the home of Lisa Ontiveros, a friend he knew since high school, and had started a romantic relationship with in the months before his diagnosis.
Bill was a Crew Chief for American Airlines at San Antonio International Airport for many years. After the diagnosis, Lisa brought him to North Carolina to be his caregiver through chemotherapy and other treatments to battle the cancer.
On the last day I saw him in late-July 2011, we went for a ride to the beach, had pizza for lunch and sat by the pool before I had to fly home.
His last words to me at the airport were, “I love you, man. You know that.”
I love him too.
Three weeks later, on August 16, 2011, he left us.
It was almost exactly eight months after he learned of the cancer.
Bill was a wonderful friend who became a devoted, treasured member of our family.
For more than three years after his death, I never had a dream about him.
Night after night, I would hope to dream about Bill, as I have dreamt about my father, my sister, my brother and other family and friends who have transitioned into the non-physical realm.
I found it odd that I would dream about so many departed souls, yet never Bill.
I wondered if perhaps he learned something negative about me on the other side and chose not to visit me in the dreamscape.
Then, a couple of months ago, he finally appeared in one of my dreams.
He was young, vibrant, smiling and funny as always.
When I awoke, I could feel that I had just been in his presence.
It’s amazing how a dream can make you feel near to someone who has passed on. I don’t discount that we’re actually spending time with the spirits of loved ones in our dreams.
For all of its flaws, Facebook does have a few virtues.
In this case, it sent me an unexpected gift: waking up to the memory and the smiling face of Bill on my phone.