Pay Attention

I awoke from a dream recently. This is significant because I rarely recall the content of my dreams, or even that I dreamed. This has been true for most of my life. But this particular morning I awoke to the sound of someone calling to me. Just two words: “Hey!” to first insure he had my attention, and then, “Mom.”

It didn’t sound like Julian, or at least not how I remember his voice. Nonetheless, there was something about its matter-of-fact tone, the way a child calls to his mother countless times a day, year after year after year, that was achingly familiar.

I sat up in bed, instantly wide awake after hearing this, which was also odd, because I am not a morning person, and waking up is a long, drawn out process for me. I ooze into my mornings, often not fully awake until after I’m showered and dressed. Not this morning! Upright. Alert. Immediately. For a split moment I was confused though, not understanding who had called. And then, almost in the next breath, the realization hit that no one had called; it was just a dream.

Just a dream, perhaps, but a connection of sorts. This was one of the few times I have felt that Julian was close. During the years since his suicide, I’ve sat in envious silence as others have described their “communications” from Julian.

I complained of this once to my therapist. How even Julian’s father (so left-brained, practical and mostly suspect of anything that can’t be explained scientifically) was “visited” by Julian in a dream shortly after our son’s suicide, and how comforted he was by this. Where was my dream? Why hadn’t he visited me? Wasn’t I worthy?

The therapist suggested that perhaps he had visited me, but that I wasn’t paying attention. “Paying attention to what?” I asked, exasperated.

“Well, what sorts of things did Julian love?”

“He loved reading and movies and music.”

“So pay attention to these things. If there’s a message from him, you’ll know it.” I wasn’t so sure. I was already convinced Julian had nothing to say to me. Fine.

A few weeks later, I was at one of those huge, multi-screen movie theaters. In the middle of my film, I surrendered to the idea of popcorn, and stepped out to get some. On my way back, walking down a long corridor, a young boy, perhaps 8 years old, scooted past me. From behind, I heard his mother call out, “Julian! Wait for me!”

The hair on my arms stood up. You can imagine my surprise at hearing another mother call my son’s name. It’s not a name one hears very often. “What movie are you guys seeing?” I asked as his mother passed me.

“Ender’s Game,” she responded.

I was floored. “Ender’s Game” had been one of Julian’s favorite books in middle school. “That’s so funny,” I chuckled. “First of all, my son’s name is also Julian,” her eyes widened in surprise, “And one of his favorite books was ‘Ender’s Game.’ I hope you enjoy the movie.”

As they stepped into their theater and before I returned to mine, I stood in the hallway laughing out loud and thinking to myself, “OK, OK, Julian. I get it. You don’t have to hit me over the head with it.”

I can’t say there was a clear message from my son other than, “Hey Mom; I’m here.” In fact, I can’t be more sure that my own Julian – wherever, whatever, however he is – was letting me know, in no uncertain terms, that our connection is still strong.  And I understand now, what my therapist meant when she said, “Pay attention.”



    1. Your post is timely, as now is the time of year that we are surrounded by the frenetic pace of holiday marketing, I will remember to stop…breathe…pay attention. Wishing you well Celenia.


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