“Sometimes inspiration gently tugs at your sleeve,” Phyllis says. “This time it broke through in an unforgettable dream.”
In early February, Phyllis was in California working on a novel-in-progress. “One night I dreamed that a relative had invited `the family’ to her home for a reunion. Multitudes were there. As we spent time together, I realized that my relative was dying. We were there to give her a loving passage from this world into the next.”
“We gathered around her bed,” she continues. “She handed us a book and asked us to read it to her, together. I can still see its turquoise color, and feel the texture of its paper, and sense its great age. It seemed like a sacred book. Its title was For the Sake of One We Love and Are Losing.”
The book turned out to be a meditative poem. “As we read it aloud, together, an incredible wave of love and consolation swept through us all. That feeling was so powerful, it woke me up.”
Phyllis says that “something like a voice” told her to get out of bed and write down what she could remember of the poem. She resisted, wanting to go back to sleep, but finally she started scribbling in the dark. “The lines were already escaping my memory. I wrote as fast as I could until I couldn’t remember any more. Then it was like somebody threw the off-switch, and I dropped back to sleep.”
Days later, when Phyllis returned from California to her South Dakota home, she shared the poem with some poet-friends. They urged her to publish it. “I don’t consider myself much of a poet,” she says, “and I don’t take any credit for this poem. It came from the Unknown. It’s my responsibility to honor the dream by getting the poem into the hands of readers who might need it.”
Phyllis teamed up with Tammie Mohr of Choke Cherry Photography & Design to bring the turquoise dream-book to life. Readers can draw comfort from it, share it during (virtual) gatherings of farewell and remembrance, save it as a keepsake, or offer it as a memorial gift. The book includes blank pages for photographs and space for journaling around the poem’s lines.
“I’m struck by how the poem arrived just before the pandemic was known to have hit the U.S.,” Phyllis says. At that time, she was worried about her husband’s quarantined relatives in China. She was also saddened by the general decline of her father in a North Carolina nursing home. “But this poem transcends my personal concerns,” she says. “It speaks to a world in pain. I’ve dedicated it to everyone who grieves.” She plans to sign every copy of the special-edition book.
For the Sake of One We Love and Are Losing (Bell Sound Books, $18.95) will be officially released in mid-May. You may pre-order until May 15. For now, this book will only be available through the author website.