Until I dreamed about her Friday night, I hadn’t thought about this woman for more than two years. But as soon as I saw her eyes in the dream — and then felt her hands reach out for me — I knew who she was. She was a stranger who had spoken strange words to me in a store.
It happened in October 2016. I told the story to my Facebook friends at the time, and I looked up my notes about it this morning. I was in the pharmacy section of Walmart when a frail and elderly black lady approached me and said gently, “Would you still marry her if you could?”
“I’m sorry, ma’am, but you must have me mistaken for some other ugly fellow,” I said, trying to make light of it, “because I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She put her hand on my arm firmly and pulled herself close to look up into my eyes intently.
“I know who you are,” she said with a sweet smile. “Do you know who you really are?”
I was confused and a little freaked out.
“I really don’t know what you mean, ma’am,” I said again.
“You do know what I mean,” she said firmly. “You might not remember yet, but you do know. You have to marry her. Your son must come from her. You need to remember.”
She released my arm and started walking away, but I followed after her, asking her to please explain what she meant. She waved me off and kept walking.
“She knows the answer and so do you,” she said. “I’m just your reminder. But remember that I love you, son.”
And she walked away, leaving me confused and feeling as though I’d either just encountered someone important to me or else someone crazy. I never saw her again, so the story faded from my memory — until she showed up in my dreams last night.
There was something striking about her hands. They were old and wrinkled, as you might expect from a frail older lady, but when she held them out to me, they were open — as though she was offering something to me.
“Do you remember now, son?” she asked in the same sweet voice. “Do you remember the woman who I instructed you to reach for?”
In the dream, I reached out and took her hands with mine. She grasped my hands with a surprisingly strong grip.
“I don’t understand what you’re asking me,” I told her. “I want to understand.”
“You know what you must do,” she said in an echo of our real-life encounter. “Reach out to her. Touch her. She will know you by your touch.”
“Who are you talking about?” I asked. I thought I might know who she meant, but I felt oddly reticent to say her name here.
“You know her, son,” she said. “Why do you hesitate when time is short? Trust what He has given you. I love you, but I will not be here much longer to watch over you. It is time.”
And then she opened her hands and bent over slightly to kiss my hands which were still on top of hers. And then I woke up.
I’ve had more than my share of odd experiences with people who seemed to behave in mystical ways. Do I attract crazy people? Or is there something which God — the Universe, the Creator, the Holy Spirit, whatever you want to call this — is telling me.
A rational materialist would say the dream was just some random neurons in my brain recalling a strange woman from two and a half years ago and adding to a strange narrative. A much younger me would have assumed that had to be the case.
But I’ve encountered enough strange and unexplained things in my life now that I can’t so easily dismiss such possibilities. Maybe I’m the crazy one. There’s no way for me to be sure.
If I take the message at face value, what does it mean? Who should I reach out and touch? Who is it who will recognize me by my touch?
It’s either a profound spiritual mystery or it’s random firings of neurons with no meaning. I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself.