I dream a lot. I never really give much thought to meanings behind my dreams. Sometimes I will mention a dream to Christi and she'll say something like, "Oh, that was probably because of such and such an experience you had the other day." And I'll see the connection. A couple of nights ago I had a dream, and it was the first time that I ever remember a dream really representing something to me or sending me a message.
It wasn't very in-depth. I dreamed that one of my siblings was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. I was overwhelmingly suffocated by the realization that this person whom I loved so much would be locked away without chance of escape. My sibling's hopes and goals for the future had been crushed. I had the opportunity to call and talk to my sibling in jail. Through this conversation I was able to empathize with him and feel the crushing weight of his complete and utter confinement, his intense desire to be set free, and his complete inability to make this happen. These feelings in my dream were intense and real and remained with me after I woke up.
I was awakened by Elli screaming. This is not a common occurrence in our lives right now, but it does happen now and then. It was morning, so I got up, got a drink, tried to shake the cobwebs from my head, then went down to see if I could help her stop. I cuddled on the bed with her and talked to her in the patronizing language and tone that one uses with an infant. I was finally able to calm her down to some extent. As I lay there next to her, I suddenly saw the metaphor of my dream. My sweet, dear Elli is in a prison. One even more confining than the brick and mortar jail of my dream. There is no escape. There is little hope for parole or freedom, even 20 years from now. Communication with those outside her cell is as if through a semi-soundproof wall, so that most words are obscured and only the most rudimentary of concepts can be conveyed.
My poor little Elli. I have no idea what her mental capacities are. Physically, she is strong and powerful. She can cause her limbs to wreak havoc on the people and objects around her. But to what extent she has control over what she does with those limbs, I don't know. Inside her cell can she think like a typical 6-year old? At what neurological level is the breakdown that causes her inability to communicate? Does she yearn for escape? I am pretty confident that, at least to some extent, she does. There are times when both Christi and I have felt that her angst and anger are the result of the lack of an ability to let us know what she wants or needs.
My sweet Elli. As I lay there on the bed next to her, I was filled with a renewed desire to at least provide a comforting and loving environment for her to grow up in. To do what I could to help her feel wanted and loved. To help her feel like she is part of a family. A family that will be with her throughout this life. And after. For though hers is a life lived in a prison, there is One who came to break the prison walls. One who overcame death. One who ensured that all who have suffered physical and mental infirmities in this life will be resurrected with perfect, beautiful, eternal bodies. So, my sweet Elli, there is hope for escape after all. There will come a day when you will look at each of your family with your stunning eyes, and those eyes will work. They will penetrate the gaze of each of your family members in turn.
I hope to be there when you look for the first time into Parker's eyes. Wonderful, amazing Parker. Of all the people in our family, Parker it is who never gets frustrated with you. Who has nothing but Christlike love and empathy for you. I hope to be nearby when you share that first, fully comprehending look at each other. When you first embrace him and say "Thank you, Parker, for the way you treated me."
I aspire to someday be like Parker. To someday show you the same unconditional love he shows you. To be able to endure middle-of-the-night crying fits, tantrums during which you pull my hair, and standoffs where you leave your food in your mouth forever before letting it dribble down your chin and clothes. To be able to love you at those times as much as I love you when you are singing joyfully at the top of your lungs or repeatedly pulling my head close for hugs and kisses or finding great happiness with one of your myriad musical toys.
I am grateful for Father's Day. I am so grateful to my almost-perfect wife (really, if she was any better, God would take her into heaven immediately). I am grateful for the seven WONDERFUL children who wished me Happy Father's Day this morning. And I am truly grateful for the eighth child. The one who hasn't wished me Happy Father's Day, but who someday will.
I love you Elli.