I have a working theory that the ways in which our deceased loved ones communicate to us becomes more and more subtle as more time passes since their death. The only rationale that I can come up with for this is the concept of the Seven Heavens in Judaism – as the deceased move from the closest of heavenly realms to each subsequent level that’s farther away, the more indirect and fleeting their communication becomes.
Case in point – my Pop-Pop Blackie. He was the first to pass away in our enmeshed, nuclear circle. On the night of his death, I had a vivid encounter with him in a dream. He was standing in his kitchen in his bathrobe making his favorite Tetley tea in the middle of the night with the fluorescent tube light turned on above the sink as it always was. I turned to him and grabbed him by the shoulders and asked, “What am I supposed to do now, Pop-Pop?” – and he responded, “What does it matter, you already separated yourself from me.”
Sometime that year I had another dream in which I was sitting in my car and his apparition, starting from his favorite sneakers on up, manifested in the passenger seat next to me, until his smiling face appeared and just stared at me.
In one of the last dreams that I can remember having of Pop-Pop after his death, I was standing in my childhood bedroom and there was a static sound, like the kind that you hear when you’re talking on a landline with a bad connection – and then I heard Pop-Pop quickly and cheerfully say, “Bye Momme Shayne Punim!” His favorite Yiddish term of endearment that he used with me. I never heard his voice again after this dream.
Less than a month before the one year anniversary of his passing, I woke up super early in the morning and experienced a very strong feel of his presence in my apartment. It was so strong, in fact, that I was compelled to get out of my bed and search for him throughout the apartment. It was as if I could feel his scent. But he wasn’t anywhere to be found and I went back to bed. An hour or so later, the fire alarm in the building went off and we all had to evacuate due to a real fire. It was his last hurrah – I never directly heard from him again.
Now – almost 14 years later – Pop-Pop’s communication comes in the form of the occasional cardinal flying by in my periphery as I’m driving.
There was never any mention of God while I was growing up from any of the adults around me. It wasn’t until I entered my first Adult Children of Alcoholics/Addicts meeting that I was introduced to the concept of God, or as they call it, your “higher power”. Six years later and I still can’t quite place the face with the name. Whenever I look to the sky to reach out to God, all that I can envision is a semicircle of faces of my deceased ancestors looking down at me. Clearly there must be some other entity behind them orchestrating the symphony of symbolic communication. But it’s hard to access this *true source* — I can only access the material source.
I wonder – do other Jews experience this problem? Unlike Christians, there is no human figure like Jesus for us to refer to. So, what do Jews do? Who or what do they picture when they think of G-d?