I’ve spent the last week at my younger brother Eric’s and sister-in-law Joni’s home in a Chicago suburb. I drove up with one of my sisters and my parents after we learned that Joni’s doctors had run out of treatment options for the cancer she’d been keeping at bay through surgery and chemotherapy for almost nine years. (She’d been diagnosed with an advanced stage ovarian cancer in the spring of 2004.) A couple of days before we left for our visit, I’d called my brother, wanting to know how Joni, he and their daughter Hope were doing and to ask if a family entourage could visit.
Because of others’ experiences in the days to weeks before their deaths, I asked Eric if Joni had seen anyone she knew who had already passed. “Funny you should ask,” my brother said. “Joni’s been having vivid dreams lately, and the first thing Joni said when she woke up this morning was that she’d been dreaming of Brandon moments before she woke.” Eric shared what Joni had told him at the time and then Joni added more details during one of our visits early last week.
In her dream Joni is running a marathon and she has almost reached the end when Brandon joins her and runs alongside. Apparently, he’d already crossed the finish line, but he’d come back to run with her and cheer her on as she finishes. Neither was in the “winners’ circle,” but both seemed to feel the thrill of completing such a long race. As they sat in the grass and rested, Brandon made eye contact with Joni and said, “We lost – but we won.”
Joni told me she didn’t understand why Brandon would come back to cross the finish line for a second time with her. She said she knew within the context of the dream that Brandon was a much better runner than she. (As far as I know, Joni never ran for sport or fun, whereas Brandon seemed born to run. It was the perfect context for a dream involving him!) But I told Joni, Brandon had done this before.
|Preteen Brandon in Cincinnati Heart Mini-marathon|
|Results of 5K when Brandon was 6 y.o. and Marti Lynne was 13|
When Brandon was six years old, he, my youngest sister Marti (then 13 years old) and I entered a 5K race. I figured I’d stop and walk when Brandon tired, but he took off like a bat out of hell, leaving me in the dust (and finishing five minutes ahead of me)! After crossing the finish line, he ran back until he found Marti and ran with her. She said he cheered her on, “C’mon, Aunt Marti, you can do it. You can do it,” until she finished. I found out later last week that Marti had heard from a friend of Brandon’s for whom he had done the same during a Cincinnati “Flying Pig” marathon both had entered. Brandon finished, drank a beer, and then ran back to run alongside and cheer his friend over the finish line.
|Brandon cheered on by his sister Elizabeth and niece Karenna (in backpack)|
Hearing the story of running alongside Marti, Joni interlocked her fingers and said, “Ah, now it makes sense.” And it did. Joni’s dream has comforted me more than any Brandon dream I’ve had since his death. It does make sense that he would be there to run alongside and cheer this non-runner, this cancer warrior women across life’s finish line and into paradise on the other side.
They lost – but they’ve won…