One day in 2009, my father called to tell my husband and me about a dream he had. “I was in a house full of people. Everyone there was so happy, and I was happy too,” he said. “I looked out the window, and I saw you both. And then I looked down, and I was holding a baby.”
What he didn’t know is that I was pregnant, but just barely; we hadn’t told our families yet. A few weeks later, we called him back. “Dad,” we said, “your dream is going to come true.”
But he never held our baby. My father, 54 years old, died of a heart attack one month to the day before his first grandchild was born. Dad’s dream seemed like a cruel tease, a premonition that seemed entirely plausible until it was torn away.
When Dad first described his dream we had focused, naturally, on the baby. But what if, instead, the message of the dream was the window: a transparent barrier that separated him from us, through which he could see but not be seen, a happy room in another place?
I have preached at length about the power of myth and stories, but I want my dad’s dream to be real, not metaphorically real. I yearn to believe there was a time—after his death and before her birth, perhaps—when he held my baby, on the other side of a window. I want him to feel that glow of eternal joy, that crowded mansion in our Father’s house. I want to know that he’s gotten to be a grandad, even if in a distant kingdom.
But I don’t know; none of us can. From this side, the window’s opaque. At its best, it’s frosted glass, showing only shapes and shadows, and yet letting through light.
My father spent his career working with glass. He was a camera lens designer, and he practiced bending light to capture images. On his footstone at the cemetery we put 1 Corinthians 13:12: “Now we see through a glass, through a window. But one day, we’ll see face to face.”