Last Updated on 28. March 2023 by Victor Karp
My father died in 2010. He had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2003, 7 years earlier. He had won many tough battles against the illness, including a case of pneumonia, during which he fell into a coma.
Our family had gotten used to his illness over the years. You can’t be in a constant state of gloom and doom all day because of it, or you’ll get mad. There are only so many stories about hospital visits you can tell before you can’t stand it anymore, so we, my father included, made jokes about it. It became normal to the point where we didn’t actively think about it most of the time.
Back in the corners of our minds we knew that leukemia was rarely healed. The chemo therapy either kills the cancer or it kills you. The whole idea of poisoning your whole body to get rid of something seems ridiculous to me in hindsight, but we didn’t question the process at that time.
Due to all the previous times where my father had survived against all odds, we were still in somewhat good spirits when he slipped into a coma again in 2010. We didn’t know that he would die 7 weeks later.
My mother and I visited him regularly in the hospital and sat beside his bed. During one of our visits, a butterfly crossed the room’s window. While I saw this as a good omen, she was rather reserved. She had various unexplainable otherworldly experiences during her life, and a very well adjusted gut feeling regarding these matters.
Earlier during my fathers illness, she had “seen” a wispy, shadowy structure in his hip. Later, this would be confirmed by a radiologist. My father’s bones had become brittle, and the x-ray resembled what she had perceived.
As far as I know, I don’t share my mother’s ability to perceive such things. But ever since I can remember, I had quite vivid, lengthy dreams. Every couple of years there even is a lucid dream, in which I am aware that I am dreaming and can control my own actions consciously.
On very rare occasions, I have another type of dream which is not lucid, but has a quite distinct quality to it. These dreams are unusually vivid and detailed and their plots are more structured than the oftentimes abrupt and spontaneous changes of scenes and topics that regular dreams can have.
A couple of days before my father died, I had one of those dreams.
I dreamt that I was in a round room. My father was lying on a bed in the room’s center. In waking life, I hadn’t talked to him in 6 weeks due to the coma. I approached him; he sat up and looked at me. We had a very short conversation that went like this:
I: “When will you be out of here?”
He: “In two weeks.”
I: “Really? Are you sure?”
He: “Yes. Two weeks.”
Even in my dream I was aware of his dire condition, so I had to ask if he was really sure about the two weeks.
I woke up joyful and talked with my mother about the experience. We were both hopeful that I, or rather he, would be right. And in some way, he would.
When he died a few days later, I remember that – between all the emotions of grief, sorrow and helplessness that I experienced – I felt angry. I was angry at him for telling me he’d be back home in two weeks and then just breaking his promise. And I was angry at me for being so stupid to put any amount of hope in such a dream.
A few days passed, and he was laid out in a special room inside the hospital. Our family gathered around him and bid him farewell. For some strange reason I started smiling. I remember looking at another family member who was in tears, and I felt that my behavior was entirely inappropriate. But I had this pure feeling of joy, as if I was suddenly fully energized. The whole situations felt almost comical to me, as if I was witnessing an overly dramatic theatrical play.
I would later learn that another family member had seen my father during our gathering. Not the dead body lying there, but a living apparition that was smiling and waving at us. I could not see anything out of the ordinary, but this additional information helped me to make sense of my emotions.
I wasn’t thinking that much about my dream anymore. It had obviously been wrong. My father was now dead and I had to accept it. The dream had just been some wishful thinking on my end. There was one last detail though. And when it arrived, the dream made sense.
My father had made preparations for his death a long time ago. Among them were instructions for his burial: a simple urn. No casket, no fancy grave stone.
Exactly two weeks after my dream, my father’s body was transferred from the hospital to the crematorium. I pondered the dream again, and then it hit me. I hadn’t asked him when he would be home, or well, or awake, or anything of that kind. I had asked “When will you be out of here?”. He had left the hospital after all, at the time he had promised. Just not in the way I had expected.
If something similar has happened to you and you would like to talk about your experience, feel free to get in touch. Your message will be treated confidentially and will not be made public.