“I had a dream about Pap-pap,” Dad said. Sitting across from him at the dinner table, I sat up a little straighter. Somehow, I knew it had to do with my recent engagement.
My long-term boyfriend, Sean, had proposed while we were on vacation in California. When we called my parents long distance with the good news, they insisted we come over for a celebratory dinner as soon as we got back to Pennsylvania. While Sean helped Mom with the dinner dishes that night, Dad leaned in across the table.
“I had quite a dream right after you called from California,” Dad said. “But I wanted to wait and tell you about it in person.”
Dreams were serious in my family. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had incredibly vivid dreams, the kind that feel too real to simply be brushed off. Often, they were about deceased loved ones—offering comfort or guidance. When I got older and shared my experiences, I learned that Dad was just like me in the dream department. It made perfect sense that he’d heard from Pap-pap, his father, on such a momentous occasion. Both sets of my grandparents had been gone for many years, but Pap-pap had always felt…there. His presence stood out beyond the childhood memories I had of my other grandparents.
“Pap-pap and I were talking,” Dad explained. “He said he was planning on going back to work, so he could help with your wedding.”
I reached out across the table, taking Dad’s hand. “That sounds like him,” I said, chuckling. Pap-pap would have done everything he could to help me pull off my dream wedding. I wished more than anything that he could attend. Even though he’d never gotten the chance to meet Sean, I’d always thought Pap-pap would have approved. I took Dad’s dream as a sign that he did.
That meant the world to me. But Dad’s dream retreated to the back of my mind while we focused on wedding preparations. From ordering flowers to finalizing a venue and sending out save-the dates, we had our hands full. Dad’s dream was the furthest thing from my mind—until the night I had a dream of my own.
In my dream, I was back in my parents’ living room. My dad was sitting on the couch. “Come on!” he said. “Take the picture!” I looked down to see that I was holding Dad’s iPad. Right, I thought, I was taking his picture. I clicked on the camera app and held up the tablet, lining up the shot. Click!
“How does it look?” Dad asked. I checked the photo and blinked in confusion. Pap-pap was standing behind Dad’s right shoulder. I looked up to see who was actually in my parents’ living room. Pap-pap was nowhere to be seen. Just Dad, alone on the couch.
“Let’s take another,” I said. Click! Click! Click! I took several photos, and each was the same: Dad with a big smile, Pap-pap standing behind his right shoulder. In the dream “reality,” only Dad and I were present in the room.
When I awoke the next morning, the dream was hazy, but I was happy and well rested. It was Saturday, and Sean and I had a busy day ahead. We checked in at the florist and then went to the bakery for our cake tasting.
Sitting at a stoplight on the way home, I was startled. It hit me all at once: the dream and what it meant. When we got home, I called my parents.
“I think it’s another message from Pap-pap,” I said. “He wants me to know he’ll be at the wedding. Even if we can’t see him.”
Our wedding day in December 2020 dawned beautiful and bright, but because of the pandemic, it ended up looking different than we envisioned. Many guests watched the ceremony online, with only a few close family members attending in person.
Still, the church was not empty. Sean and I had printed out large photos of our deceased loved ones and placed them in the front row. We took care to arrange flowers around them to bring life to our memories. As my dad walked me down the aisle, I took a good look at Pap-pap in his photograph. I was glad he was there. Sean and I had a dream wedding for sure, with angels in attendance, the most special of guests.
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