Christmas arrived early for me this year. Last night in a dream Annette, a second mother to me from my early teen years, came to visit bringing me a very special gift.

Annette was Debbie and Mara’s mother, two of my closest friends growing up. Annette took a strong liking to me and always made sure that I was included in all of their family adventures including vacations, birthdays or even simple dinners out. She was that giving with me all the way up to three years ago when she died. 

In my dream, Annette and I were walking through Miami Beach. I immediately noticed how much younger she looked. She was noticeably thinner and her hair was the biggest and brightest shade of red I’ve ever seen. What was truly a relief to see was how graceful and easy it was for her to walk. She seemed to be gliding along rather than limping and out of breath as I used to know her to be. She smiled at me as she noticed that I had puzzled, but pleasant look upon my face.

While walking along Washington Avenue she pointed out some places where she used to work. Clothing shops that have incarnated a few times over again and a few hotels that still exist today. While strolling along the avenue Annette referenced that she had a bitter fight with her sister “right in front of that store” that lasted for years and years. She said it was on of her biggest regrets because she missed many family events including weddings and birth announcements of the beautiful little babies that her nieces and nephews had. “But I am in a place where I can see them all now” she said wiping a few tears away from her sun blushed cheeks.

We went over to Collins Avenue where Annette showed me a couple of places where she once lived, then we stopped at a three story white apartment building with an impressive purple bougainvillea draping down the south side of the house. Annette stood there for a second then whispered, while being coy, that this was the place she had the most fun at before she met Joel! Joel was her husband for over 40 years. We finished our walk right in front of the Betsy Hotel on A1A. She sighed and said; “I am so glad she’s back.”  Then handed me a box that was wrapped in traditional Hanukah paper. “You didn’t forget that I’m Jewish?” she jokingly asked. Inside the box was a picture frame with two sets of photographs side by side.

On one side of the frame was a picture of me with my parents. On the other side was Joel, Debbie, Mara, myself and Annette standing behind us three kids smiling wide from ear to ear with her arms spread out embracing us. I thanked her for the gift and graciously told her that she has always been so incredibly generous to me. This picture is especially meaningful since I’ve never seen it before. My eyes focused in on Joel and Mara. They both left us many years before, certainly way too soon.  When I looked back up from the photograph Annette was gone and I thought she was probably going to the Betsy for a white wine Spritzer – her favorite late afternoon cocktail.

When I awoke I started to journal the dream/visit then called Debbie. After a few laughs Debbie asked me if I had known that mom lived in Miami Beach?  “No” I said, “but thanks for telling me.”

Once I finished talking to her, I called both my parents and arranged a Christmas reunion with both of them present asking them to put aside their differences.

Joel, Mara and Annette at Mara’s Sweet 16 party.