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How Dreams Reconnected Two Sisters

Why did she keep dreaming of her mom and estranged sister?

An African-American woman catching up on beauty sleep.

Who was Mom speaking to? She sat next to me on the overstuffed couch in my sun-drenched living room, phone cradled at her ear, laughing and talking to whoever it was—her caramel skin setting off her big, bright smile. I’d never seen Mom look so happy. The sunlight seemed to get brighter and brighter.

“Who is it?” I asked.

Mom’s smile grew wider and she looked deep into my eyes. Without a word, she handed the phone to me. I put it to my ear. “Hello?” I said.

I woke up gasping, as if the wind had been knocked out of me. I hadn’t heard the voice on the line, but it was obvious who it was. A voice I hadn’t heard in nearly eight years.

The last communication of any kind that I’d had with my younger sister, Pam, was just before Thanksgiving. An instant message out of the blue. What’s going on? she wrote.

Not much, I answered quickly. That was all. Now it was nearly Christmas.

It never used to be that way with us. Mom always bragged about the bond Pam and I shared, even though we were almost eight years apart. I lived in Georgia, Pam had settled in North Carolina, but we got together when we could and called each other all the time. “Girl, let me tell you…” Pam would say, and she’d launch into some story. I’d share another one right back. We’d talk and laugh our heads off for hours.

Everything changed after Mom suddenly passed away. She hadn’t left a will. Soon Pam and I went from agreeing on how to split up her estate to clashing over everything. First it was just a war of words. Then lawyers got involved. I blamed Pam for making things so complicated. She blamed me. We stopped getting together. We stopped speaking to each other.

That’s when the dreams began.

Until now, they’d all been the same. Mom sat on the edge of my bed holding a portrait of Pam and me close to her heart. It was one we’d given to her the Christmas before she passed away. In it, Pam and I looked like the close, loving siblings we used to be. Mom, however, looked devastated, mournful even. That wasn’t like her. In my heart, I knew why. Mom, I’m so sorry, I’d wake up thinking. But I don’t know what to do.

This new dream made it seem so easy. I could just pick up the phone and dial the number I knew by heart. Apologize, forgive, forget.

In my head, I went over everything I’d say to Pam. But I was still too stubborn to make the call. Christmas came and went.

The first week of January, I put out the tree for collection, then started packing up the decorations around the house. In my bedroom, the sight of a crystal-framed picture of Mom stopped me. She was smiling, the way I wanted to remember her. The way she had in that last dream.

I picked up the frame and held it close to my heart, as she had. I cried softly. “Mom, I can’t go through another year without talking to my sister. I just can’t. I want this foolishness to stop. I want you to rest in peace knowing that all is well with us.” I said a silent prayer, then put the picture back and collapsed onto the bed.

Not long after, the phone rang.

“Girl, we have so much to catch up on, let me tell you…”

I burst into tears. Pam!

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

“No, I’m sorry. This has been so silly, such a waste of time,” Pam said. We jumped right into conversation, one story after another, as if there had never been eight years of silence. I could tell she was as thankful as I was that the ice was broken. We talked and laughed for hours.

That night, I had no trouble drifting off. I didn’t dream at all, sleeping more deeply than I had since before Mom passed.

The next day, Pam called again. “It may sound a little weird,” she began. “I wanted to tell you yesterday. All these years we weren’t talking… I often had dreams about Mom.”

“Me too,” I said.

“She was always sad, and you know that wasn’t like her at all,” Pam continued. “But recently, I had a different dream. Mom was talking on the phone, smiling, laughing, happier than I’d ever seen her. Then she handed the phone to me and smiled. I just knew it was you on the line. That’s why I called. I couldn’t ignore the dream any longer.”

“Girl,” I said, “let me tell you…”

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