In My Dreams, I See My Eldest Sister, Who Died 6 Years Ago, Again

In my dreams, I see my eldest sister, who died six years ago, again:

My wife and I are visiting my brother-in-law who, as it happens, is not at home. We have so little time; soon we must leave.

Already dead, my sister left behind a secret: far out back behind the house she had been nursing and growing all kinds of cactuses. In fact, it is nothing short of a desert botanical garden.

Old notebooks reveal the meticulous care she took with each fledgling child; reveal the details on each; reveal the experiments she undertook with loving care. A hidden scientist and a hidden artist both.

Nobody in the dream knew anything about this, and my wife and I have to go.

Just before leaving, I’m crying in front of my brother-in-law who is now home. I feel I know her better or perhaps I feel I don’t know her at all. It is all one as my sister sinks into the mystery and as the mystery blossoms me within me.

What beautiful secrets do we keep from one another? What little do we know about the inner lives of those we think we know?

Maybe it is familiarity that deadens the filial–and everything else. And maybe it is what is left behind–unstated, foreign, surprising–that opens the heart to wonderment and to melancholic compassion as if for the first time.