Tom, my older brother, deceased since February 2005, visited in this morning’s dream:

It’s night. I’m alone. After a long absence, I’ve been attending a gathering at my parish church. As I approach the exit I’m surprised to see my brother Tom, stunningly handsome in his dark overcoat, his blue eyes searching for mine. He reaches for my hands, holds them in both of his and says, “Let’s take this slow. This is new for me.”

For several hours I felt his loving presence while reflecting upon the staggering implications of his visit: The residue of our conflicted childhood was over.

In my perception, our mother’s unconscious enmeshment of Tom had engulfed him in chronic anger that, of necessity, he displaced upon me when growing up. Only when he left home for college in 1952 could I breathe. But he did love me, as he was able.

Evidence of this is found in the 1957 letter I received from him while fulfilling his ROTC service in the U. S. Navy. “Your choice to enter the convent does not surprise me. No man is worthy of you,” he wrote. He saw me like none other.

Then came Tom’s 2002 note, months after having vascular surgery on his right leg, “…you emerged as the No. 1 rooter for yours truly…thanks for that and all the other nice, unselfish things you do for us all.”

In his passing, three years later, he also shared his exquisite joy with me. He was finally home.

And now Tom’s plea, spoken in soft tones, unlike his usual speech, “Let’s take this slow. This is new for me.” left me wondering—perhaps to continue this dialogue, even enlist his help in the time remaining.