I’ve had a recurring dream over the years that I often think about. In the dream, I’m exploring a new house. It’s my house, but I’m exploring it for what seems to be the first time. I go through the main floor, amazed at how it’s decorated just to my taste and even better than I could think to do. Everything I see makes me happy. I think I’ve looked at everything when I discover a staircase. I go up the stairs and find bedrooms. They are beyond description. They smell like lilacs and one opens into another one, each one beautiful and spacious.
The house becomes familiar to me then. In the master bedroom, I notice a small panel on the wall that blends in. I open it and discover it’s kind of like an unfinished attic space. I crawl through and realize the space is much bigger than I thought it could possibly be. This house is HUGE! But again, it’s familiar. On instinct, I walk around and find myself directly in front of another strange opening that’s very small. I go through it and several other hidden, child-sized openings until I come into a small, finished room. It’s full of light and like a very large closet. There are all kinds of clothes and dolls and toys in it.
As I enter this room, a sense of peace and comfort comes over me. I sit down and start looking through the toys, discovering they are my dolls and books. My sister is there with me. We are young again. We play with the toys and laugh and talk, feeling totally safe and protected and comforted. We know that no one else knows about this room. It is our room, from childhood, and we are the only two people in the universe who know it exists.
Then I wake up.
I love this dream. I wish I could have it every night. It’s been years since the last dream and I miss it. A friend told me that the house in the dream represents me. The unfinished part is what is yet to come in my life. The rooms that are already decorated and set up are the good things I’ve accomplished. The only thing about that interpretation that strikes me as odd is there’s no ugliness in that house anywhere. If the house were truly me, there would certainly be some holes in the walls or something… But it’s my own dream, so I guess I’m allowed to be perfect and beautiful!
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the main rooms in the house. But the other night something triggered my thoughts about the secret room. I wonder about it. What does it mean? It made me think about my relationship with my sister.
My sister, Katie, is 3 ½ years younger than me. Today she lives in a gorgeous home in our hometown. She married a great guy and they have a lovely, sparkly, princess daughter named Alexis. She and her husband are both in sales and you are sure to have a good time if you hang out with them. They seem to know everyone everywhere they go.
But Katie was not always the woman she is today. Obviously, neither was I. There was a time when we were children living in the exact same environment during the exact same time. There was a time when we didn’t get to choose our own paths, but were taken care of and told what to do and how to behave. We are the only two people in the world who know what it was like to be the children of our parents, to be the pastor’s daughters of our church, to be in our unique family with grandparents from the opposite worlds of rural Iowa and New York City. We are the only two people who shared the same switch on the day Dad got tired of us fighting and hiding “The Stick: To Spank Bottoms With” (as it was labeled) behind the washing machine. We are the only two people who had to get up with Mom at the crack of dawn to pick strawberries in the summer heat and pray we didn’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes. We are the only two people who found out when our world was pretty well-established that our mom was going to have another baby and they were threatening to send it back if it wasn’t a boy. We are the only two who know what it was like to have our maternal grandmother close by and to spend time with her regularly, then lose her a few years later.
There is safety and security in our relationship. The years after our brother was born were teenage years. We were mean to one another, fought incessantly, stole each others things, and didn’t play well together. When I went to college and we no longer lived in the same house, we began to get along again. Today we are very close, talking on the phone almost daily and seeing one another as often as possible with the six-hour drive between us.
That time from the age of 3 ½ until 12 is represented by the room in my dream. It represents a time of comfort and joy in my life. There is a bond there that can never be broken. The friendships I have made over the years are with people who know me well; they intimately know the woman I have become. But my sister, she knows the child I was and the things that shaped me into the woman I have become. And I know her in a way that her friends never will. We are united in that bond.
I’m so grateful for the joy of having a sister. Were you blessed with a relationship like ours?