Part 1: The dream was always the same, and always in November.
The front door opens to a blinding white light and, gradually, I see my father. I find myself being lifted high in the air, spinning around, continually seeing my father’s face, laughing, eyes shining. Then he puts me down, and he backs away, back into the light, and disappears. That’s usually when I awaken. I desperately try to go back to sleep to make the dream last longer so I can say something to my father, keep him around a bit longer, but of course it never happens. He died when I was a little girl, killed in a car wreck.
It was the week of Thanksgiving 1983 and the first time I’d been home to Texas since moving to California. I left my home state the year before to become an actress and although I was getting lots of small parts and commercials, like most young actors I was also waiting tables between auditions and acting classes. I loved California and had made some great friends, but I was a very young girl and missed my family, so this trip home was especially sentimental for me.
While unpacking, I noticed my mother’s cedar jewelry box on a shelf in my room. As a little girl I loved looking through it, always finding new treasures, so I made some room on my bed and began digging around. After sorting through the top layer I lifted the middle shelf and, near the bottom, I found a lovely gold ring with a green stone that had a gold “C” in the center. I’d never seen it before; it was large and obviously not my mother’s, but since green is my favorite color, I put the ring on my index finger.
Later that evening in the car on our way to dinner, my mother noticed the ring and asked me why I was wearing it. After apologizing for not asking first, she said, “Of course it’s okay, but that’s your father’s high school ring–did you know today, November 22nd, is the day he died?”
A strange sadness poured over me. He had died when I was a little girl so I had never really known the actual date of his death–but then I remembered the dream I’d been having for many years, always in November. I told my mother about it.
She smiled. “The night he died you were crying and angry that he was leaving the house without you. So he picked you up, spun you around until you stopped crying, and then he left. Later that night is when he died in the car crash.”
Part 2: Many years later, back in California, I was at another impasse in my life.
After surviving a disastrous marriage I was now a single mom, still working as an actress but also having to work other jobs to stay ahead. I had been dating Mark Murrell several years and was ready to get married–but he wasn’t. Although his career in the fashion industry had thrived in Texas, Mark was struggling to stay ahead in California and wanted to be financially stable before even considering taking on a family.
One afternoon I was having lunch with my producer friend ‘Chick’, complaining about my stalled relationship. Chick noticed the gold and green ring on my index finger and asked if he could hold it. “I know this sounds crazy, but I just had a vision,” he said. “I can’t see his face, but I see you with another man. It’s definitely not Mark; this is a businessman, a guy dressed in a really nice suit. You’re both dressed up and you look very happy–and I see you driving away in a green Jaguar.” He gave me back my ring and we both had a good laugh about it.
Three years later, Mark and I got married. He had since left the fashion industry and was now an insurance adjuster with Lloyds of London. My friend, Chick, was one of the attendees and after the wedding he pulled me aside and, laughing, asked if I noticed the green Jaguar in the chapel parking lot. At first I had no idea what he was talking about or why he was asking–but then I remembered Chick’s ‘vision’ while holding my father’s ring.
I felt all the color leave my face as I told him, “Mark wanted to rent either a white or black Jag for us to drive away in today; he called every rental place in LA but all they had left was this green one…”
Part 3: November 22, 2014 once again played a huge part in my life when I found myself in the hospital with my son.
For three days Jason was hooked up to tubes and monitors, being tested in every way possible and ultimately, on November 22, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
Sitting in the hospital room that night I thought of my father and his ring which, sadly, I had lost when we moved to our first house in 1998. Feeling completely helpless and small, I prayed for my son, prayed that I would be strong enough to help him in whatever ways he would need over the next year. And wow, those prayers were needed because it was a very difficult year for my entire family in every way possible. Despite all the “happy” photos I post on social media because of my work, this one (left), taken by Mark, captured the real “me” this year. My son has had to fight the medical system, trying to find doctors that will treat him under the ACA, and some days he had to use a cane to walk. Yet somehow through it all our family has remained strong–until I finally broke.
Part 4: A November 22, 2015 miracle
Mark was out of town. Alone and heading towards another November 22nd, I began sinking into deep despair. Our dog, Reagan, was very sick; she had become paralyzed and was possibly dying. Several friends and family members were experiencing loss and health issues, and everything in the entire world just seemed black, hopeless.
So I did what I’ve done throughout my life: I got down on my knees and began praying. I prayed for healing and comfort for my family and friends. I prayed for my country. I prayed for strength. And as soon as I opened my eyes and stood up, I knew what I had to do.
I began cleaning–literally and figuratively–both my house and my soul.
At first I cleared off the top of my very cluttered desk. Then I cleaned my bedside drawers, then the bathroom cabinets and drawers, and then everything else. Everything. Every cabinet, drawer, and closet in my entire house was cleaned and organized. I donated 30 bags of items for charity, and filled our entire large trash dumpster with bags. When Mark got home and saw the frenzy I was in, he began helping me clean the garage. It took an entire weekend but we finally got through every box, bag, and container and organized everything perfectly.
While breaking down an old, torn up box, I heard a ‘clunk’ sound on the ground.
It was my father’s ring.
Apparently it had been stuck in the fold at the bottom of that box, having fallen out of my jewelry box in 1998 when we moved. My prayers, the ones I hadn’t even thought to pray about, were answered. God knew what I needed, so close to the date of my father’s death and now the anniversary of my son’s MS diagnosis. He knew what I needed going into yet another year, continuing to find answers and doctors and strength.
I sat on the garage floor and finally, for the first time in far too long, I cried.
Today, November 22, I am once again wearing my father’s ring on my index finger and will someday give it to my son. I don’t pretend to know how the little miracles in life happen–whether God sends us signs, or if He somehow guides us where we need to go when we ask for His help. But I’m grateful that instead of darkness and sorrow, this November 22nd I’m feeling the grace of peace and hope deep in my soul. And it is good.
(This article was originally published November 22, 2015.)