The One Time That I Listened to a Dream

How I Came to Write & Publish my Memoir

I was dreaming, but I didn’t know it.

In my dream, Nana was talking to me, and I was arguing with her. It was as real to me as if she were alive.

She was telling me to write down our story — all that had happened to us — so someone else would be helped and strengthened by it. I was telling her I couldn’t do it. She kept telling me I could and it was important and she needed me to promise her I would do it.

I told her writing would be the easy part, but I had no idea about editing or publishing.

With great exasperation, she said to me,

“If I help with the editing and publishing side of it, will you write it?”

I just wanted to stop talking about it with her, and I stamped my foot and jokingly said,

“Okay, yes. If you find someone who can help me with the editing side of it and publishing, I will start writing.”

She leaned back with a satisfied look on her face and looked enormously relieved.

I woke up.

The dream lingered with me for a while.

I was amused by the conversation that had just taken place between Nana and I. It took me a while to register that it had been a dream and not a real conversation. It had felt real.

The thought of perhaps starting to write down some of Nana’s story as a base to start from, and to start recording certain events in my life mulled over in my mind.

I decided then and there that I would at some time start to do so. But it was a distant shadowy future commitment.

I had children to look after and things to do, and it was soon forgotten for the day.

That night I went to pick up my daughter, Olivia, from her dance class that was held in the local high school. I had attempted to make conversation with some of the mothers before, but most already knew each other and were reluctant to engage in too much talk with a stranger beyond a cordial hello. So I stood back and watched.

A voice next to me suddenly said, “Hello.”

I turned to see whom it belonged to, at the same time smiling and responding to her greeting. Raylene was really friendly and chatty, and we happily passed the next ten minutes exchanging information with each other.

I found out she was living with a man just across the road from the high school where the practice was held. She had an adopted son the same age as my son, Ethan, and his birthday was on the same day.

She was friendly and forthcoming. I felt like I had known her for a long time and felt at ease with her. She invited me to come for a cup of tea right then and there before I took the children home, and so I did. Olivia and Ethan played happily with her children whilst she put the kettle on, and we settled into easy conversation.

She shared with me that she had been disfellowshipped (the process of being shunned and treated as if dead) from the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion she had belonged to for a while. I was stunned, as I desired friends and suddenly there was one who understood what I was going through as she had been through it herself. I instantly told her about my being recently announced as dissociated from the same religion. We talked for another fifteen minutes about our experiences with being shunned.

The conversation turned to my life. I told her I was studying nursing. I hesitated before I carried on speaking as I had made the decision to write my story just that morning, but as Raylene had already shared with me so freely regarding her disfellowshipping, I told her I was thinking of writing a book.

She stopped what she was doing, looked me in the eyes, and said:

“I am a writer. I won a Queensland award for my latest book. I have four published books for children and am currently working on another.”

She gazed intently at me as she said:

“You are a writer. You don’t think about writing a book, you do it. Say it as it is, and it will happen.”

Then she calmly went on with making another cup of tea, stating as she did so words that made hairs stand up all over the back of my neck and arms:

“If you ever want to know about editing or publishing, just ask me, and I will put you in touch with the publishers that I use. I had many books rejected as I did not realize I needed to have them professionally edited first, and now that I have successfully gone through the process, I am more than happy to show you how.”

Time stood still.

All the motion in the room slowed down.

The hairs all over my body stood on end. I felt a chill go through me.

My challenge to my Nana the night before ran through my head:

“If you find me an editor and publisher, I will start writing our story.”

The vision of my Nana standing before me so real in my dream the night before was stark once again in my mind’s eye. I could picture her relaxed and self-satisfied smile.

I said out loud:

“Okay, Nana, you win.”

I then told Raylene I hoped she wouldn’t think me strange, but I just had to share my dream from the previous night. After I shared it with her, she came over and hugged me tightly.

She looked at me again straight in the eyes and said:

“You are a writer. You will write your book. Your Nana appeared to you in a dream to tell you, so you must.”

It felt like Nana reaching from the grave to comfort me.

It warmed me inside at a time when I was struggling to feel a connection and to feel emotionally valued and loved.

The dream gave me purpose and hope. I value and treasure it.

Thank you, Nana. This is our story.