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This I Believe: Elizabeth Uppman

By edited by Hayley Salvo


Kansas City, MO – I dreamed I talked to God in a parking lot. I approached him as he walked to his car: Excuse me, sir? I was wondering if I could ask you a question.

Certainly, he said. He looked tweedy, like Sean Connery playing a professor. He opened the hatch of his station wagon.

My little boy was three-and-a-half when he died last fall.

Yes, I know, he said softly.

Will I see him again? A lump rose in my throat.

Oh, yes, he said, a little brusque. He loaded the station wagon, not looking at me.

Um - well, and who's taking care of him?

It's the Petersons now, I believe, he said, and then God began discussing new treatment protocols while I wondered who the Petersons were, now, and who it had been before. Then God had to leave and I woke up.

My husband thinks I actually talked to God in this dream. But I don't have his kind of faith - the dependable kind, the kind that's always with him, like a smooth stone in his pocket. No, I have the kind of faith that sometimes gushes but most often dries up or trickles down the crevices.

I believe I scripted this dream in order to show myself what I believe, as if taking my own fingerprints. In the early months after Gabriel's death, he was so very gone. The gone-ness of him implied the gone-ness of a lot of other things: hope, kindness, humor, logic. This should have been frightening, but it wasn't. I simply didn't think I could face those shadows every day of my life. So my dreaming mind constructed a bottom for the bottomless pit. It decided that I was going to proceed from the premise that God was a given. I don't know why this dream should be so convincing for me; I don't know why the false bottom is so persuasive, knowing as I do that it's false. But it works, for now.

In the same way, using the same kind of conscious avoidance, I believe that Gabriel still exists somewhere. I believe it is a simple thing that now divides me from him, like looking through a different lens on a camera. I feel silly and stumped that I can't figure out how to change that lens so that I can see him clearly, the way I'm sure he can see me.

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