"Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage
of those who dare to make dreams into reality."  ~~Jonas Salk



Hi all,

It's been a rough week for my family so this newsletter isn't really what I intended it to be.  Further, I'm not entirely sure what impact personal matters will have on the next few newsletters... not to mention my story writing time.  So if a bunch of trope lists and repurposed college papers start appearing... thanks in advance for your understanding.  Heck, the next issue could just be photos of my pets with captions purportedly written by Andrew.  I'm just trying to not do anything that adds stress right now. 

In short, two of my great uncles passed away last week (unrelated events) and another of my uncles is gravely ill.  So that's been pretty trying and sad.  On a much less serious but annoying note, my air conditioner is on the fritz.  It's kinda hard to feel creative when your house temp is 87 degrees and your dogs are panting but refusing to go in the (much, much cooler) basement.  So in light of that, I was going to send one of my college papers but wasn't finding the one I wanted.  I came across one about the significance of dreams and almost sent that with the excuse that the Dyeland stories sometimes contain significant dreams and visions.  But that felt like a stretch.  However, in thinking about that, I recalled the story scene below.  I got to thinking that it might be interesting to give a "behind-the-scenes" look on select Dyeland story scenes.  Maybe explain why I made certain decisions, how TBAA inspired this or that element, etc.  I chose the scene below but if you are a Dyeland story reader and have particular scenes you'd like to know more about, please let me know.  I may keep this up in the future.  If you have something in mind, it'd be helpful if you could tell me the story title but even a description of the scene would help if you don't recall the title.  Thanks in advance for any suggestions!  Now onto the dissecting...

God bless,
Jenni




A Dyeland Story Scene Dissection: "Anam Caras" from "A Cord of Three Strands"

I'm going to copy and paste the scene in question first and then get into the commentary afterwards.  For context, "A Cord of Three Strands" was the first post-"Carpenter" Valentine's story.  Belle is one year old.  Avi is just a gleam in his parents' eyes.  Liam has only been with Monica and Arthur for a few months.  Andrew has moved into Willowveil and, a month and a half before, Metatron appeared to him and JenniAnn and urged them to share a room.  So that's how things have been going when we come to this...

Anam Caras

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

Andrew woke up shaking and at first thought JenniAnn or one of the dogs was hogging the blankets.  But no...  He was completely covered and the room was comfortably warm.  The angel rolled to his side and, seeing JenniAnn, remembered what he had dreamed and why he was shaking. 

Sobbing.

Sirens.

Silence.

Andrew let out a shuddering sigh and rested his hand on JenniAnn's arm.  She smiled but did not wake.  As much as he wanted to talk to her, he didn't feel right waking her.  They'd gone to bed late, after celebrating Clay's and Kylie's engagement and working on the video.  On top of that, it would be a long, though happy, day: breakfast with a number of their friends then the party in the ballroom with even more friends followed by a visit to JenniAnn's parents and grandma so they could give Belle her Valentine's presents and, hopefully, finding some time to sneak away by themselves for a dance or two.

His chills lingering, Andrew slipped out of bed, grabbed his robe, and made his way to Belle's nursery.  Like her mother, she was sleeping soundly.  Her breathing was normal, no hint of the week's earlier raspiness.  Andrew prayed over her then headed to the library.  After getting a fire going, he pulled a chair directly in front of it.  Staring into the flames, the angel tried to piece together the dream.  It was more sounds... the sobbing and the sirens... and colors... red, everywhere... than anything episodic.  There had been random images but they were strange: childish beads, a cloaked and hooded figure, rain.  Lots of rain.  A small duck, fighting to stay afloat on the current.  And the cross... her cross with the six birthstones...

No, he wouldn't think about that part.  Shaking all of the images off, Andrew closed his eyes and began to pray.

"Is there anything to it, Father?  Was it just... confusion, Joshua?  So many assignments...  They're bound to come up randomly, weaved into my own life in nonsensical ways.  Aren't they?"

He heaved a sigh.

"Laja's here.  And she's happy... and safe.  Our Belle, too.  Thank You for that.  That's what matters.  Not dreams."

Andrew's eyes fluttered open.  It was a dream that brought JenniAnn to Belle and him on that first night.

Closing his eyes again, the angel of death resumed his prayers.

"If there's a message that I'm meant to take from this nightmare, please help me to know it.  If there's something I'm meant to do, please lead me to it.  As always, I place my family, my friends, and myself in Your hands."

"Andrew, love, what are you doing?"

JenniAnn approached.  She glanced at a chair and tried to decide whether to move it closer to Andrew's.

Smiling for her, Andrew rose.

"I woke up and you looked so peaceful.  I was afraid I'd wake you up if I stayed so..."

JenniAnn gently pushed him back into the chair, frowned, and rested her hand against his forehead.

"You look pale... a little clammy even.  I hope you're not catching Belle's cold."

"I don't think so.  I feel fine."  And he did... physically.

"Well, in that case..." 

Andrew chuckled when JenniAnn perched on the left arm of his chair.

"So you were going to avoid me if I had the sniffles?" he teased.

"Avoid's a strong word.  But maybe I'd be slightly less cuddly."  JenniAnn grinned then readjusted.  "Although... I forgot that these wooden arms aren't terribly comf..."

Andrew looped his arm around her waist and pulled.

Startled but pleased, JenniAnn blushed as she spoke.  "All right then.  Did not know this was an option.  Will most definitely keep that in mind for future seating reference."

Andrew clasped her hand.  "Laja...  Happy Valentine's Day."  He rested his chin on her hair when she nestled against his chest.

"Happy Valentine's Day to you, too, but..."  While not budging from his lap, JenniAnn sat up, cupped the angel's chin, and peered into his eyes.  "Something's wrong.  Tell me?"

Andrew brought both her hands to his lips then began.  "I had a nightmare."

"Oh, love..."

"About you."

"Did I bleach all your flannel shirts?  That would be a nightmare!"

Andrew gave her a wan smile and buried his right hand in her hair.

"Andrew..."

"I don't even know what happened in it.  Just... flashes of things... sirens, crying, rain...  And the way I felt... so... so halved.  You..."  Tears welled in the angel of death's eyes.

JenniAnn let out a shaky breath and bowed her head.  It was slightly alarming... but only slightly.  It wouldn't be the first time Andrew's AOD work had made him fret over her and that was likely all it was and even if not...  She thumbed some tears away from his face. 

"Love, I've felt that, too.  Halved.  In waking life, I mean.  When you were in the hospital after you'd been living on the streets, when you were in Afghanistan with Max.  But... but it was fleeting.  You came back to us, to me.  Even if, let's say, something did happen to me... I might very well recover as you did.  Or... or if not here then... then I would still be with you.  Joshua promised."

Andrew smiled and nodded.  "He did."

"And, if it makes you feel any better, Joshua promised me something else.  He said he'd be back for a holiday here and there and that he'd show up and join me as I had a cup of tea and that he'd appear in the Tunnels.  He told me that I'd have to wait for those times.  Showing up for Christmas doesn't fulfill 'a holiday here and there' as far as I'm concerned.  It's just one holiday... a wonderful one but still just one.  And he hasn't surprised me as I sipped tea or unexpectedly come Below.  So either we're going to have a bunch of rapid fire visits from Joshua... which doesn't really fit with the waiting thing... or I'm going to be here for quite a while.  Which is for the best because I don't think our friends would tolerate you getting another anam cara.  They're quite loyal to me."

JenniAnn's coquettish grin dispelled the last of Andrew's uneasiness.  He laughed as he embraced her tightly.

"You should have been a lawyer, Laja.  Although theologian does suit you better."  Andrew exhaled deeply and kissed her temple.  "I feel better.  Thank you."

"You're welcome."

"Daaaada.  Maaaama."

JenniAnn laughed as she got to her feet.  "We're being paged."

"Dada!  Mama!" 

"Persistently," Andrew added as he took her hand and headed across the hall.

They found Belle standing up in her crib, her face pressed against the bars and her lips pursed.

Her parents laughed at her grouchy face. 

"Almost Tess-like!" Andrew joked.

Belle giggled as if she understood the joke then hugged Andrew's neck when he picked her up.

As he snuggled her, Andrew held his free arm aloft then wrapped it around JenniAnn when she approached.

"Now how do you feel?" JenniAnn asked.

"Blessed," the angel replied.

*~*~*

Premonitions and insights in the form of dreams is a popular trope, including within the Bible.  So I like to incorporate it whenever I can because it brings together a mythical, mystical element but in a very believable way... at least to me.  I've sometimes had dreams that seemed to have an eerie connection to eventual events.  I really liked the idea of Andrew sometimes having them.  And here's the thing about "psychic dreams"... they can be really cool.  But what happens when you have one, maybe with a positive outcome, but then have a nightmare?  Would that make you even more afraid that the nightmare might come true? 

There's also a meta-element to this scene.  A couple of months prior to John Dye's death, I had a dream in which I was on vacation and, to my delight, happened to be somewhere that he was giving a talk.  But then when I entered the auditorium and saw him, my heart sank.  I just knew he was dying.  And I remember thinking "Oh no...  How am I going to tell the JABBers?"  When I woke up, I dismissed it.  A co-worker had recently died under tragic circumstances which had made me cling more to John's portrayal of Andrew than I had recently.  So I figured my nightmare was just that.  With his importance rising, how horrible would it be to lose him?  And then, a couple of months later, John really did pass away and I did have to tell the JABB YG.

That was harrowing enough as is but then for a while afterwards, I felt panicky any time I had a similarly feeling dream.  What if that came true, too?

So by giving this precognitive nightmare to Andrew, I was kinda working through the remaining feelings connected to my own nightmare about John.  It was somewhat commforting to imagine his doppelganger dealing with some of the same emotions and questions as I had.  Since he'd had the dream about JenniAnn rescuing Belle, he knows that sometimes his dreams, particularly about JenniAnn, come true.  So when he has this negative one...  It's frightening.  And JenniAnn has to kinda talk him down.  Of course, we find out later that Andrew had reason to be concerned.  The dream did come true when JenniAnn was shot by Max's father.  But her counsel comes true, too.  Joshua's promise holds and she and Andrew remain together.

The other thing that interested me about this scene is it's one of the rare instances when Andrew initiates a new form of physical intimacy with JenniAnn.  Usually, she takes the lead.  She kissed him first.  She crawled into bed with him first (non-sexually of course!).  She'd routinely perch on the arm of the chair he was sitting on.  So it was kinda surprising to her when he pulled her onto his lap.  I'm sure if she hadn't been so shocked, it might have occurred to her that Andrew was, perhaps, feeling more vulnerable than she realized.  Because that's not really like him...  Well, not exactly.

It's struck me how often on TBAA Andrew initiated a hug or comforting touch or even the occasional kiss on the head/hair with the other angels or his assignments.  He did seem to be someone whose emotions had a physical outlet.  So that's what made me think him pulling JenniAnn onto his lap was in-character.  Obviously, he wouldn't just do that with anyone.  That would be creepy.  But given he knows she's in love with him and given they'd been sharing a bed, he had good reason to believe she'd be pleased by the action.  And, of course, she was.  Still...  Andrew is generally pretty careful with JenniAnn.  So I think an argument could be made that, in the moment, he put his need for physical connection with her above his usual protective nature... which I think shows how seriously he took the nightmare.  I think he might have sulked over it a bit more if not for the fact that it was Valentine's Day and they had a party to get to.

One thing that occurred to me as I was re-reading this that I don't think I thought about before is the actual content of Andrew's nightmarish vision.  Most of it is very literal.  Catherine and Vincent did sob.  There were sirens.  The red was JenniAnn's blood.  Vincent was the cloaked figure.  The beads were the bracelet that Belle and Shelby gave JenniAnn while she was in a coma.  The birthstone cross is JenniAnn's necklace which Portia gave to Andrew for safekeeping during her surgery and recovery.  But then there's the rain and the duckling...  Neither appear during JenniAnn's actual shooting or during the immediate aftermath.  The rain could be a symbol for tears... or it could be a hint that this all builds into a story that connects to the Great Flood.  But the duckling really stands out to me.  Of all that God could have shown Andrew, He goes with the duckling... Violeta.  And I wonder if Andrew latter pondered that at all.  Because it ends up being Violeta who definitively calls JenniAnn back from the Hereafter.  I think it's possible that the dream was as much a warning about trouble befalling Violeta as it was about JenniAnn being in danger.  Maybe it's for the best that Andrew never dwelled on the duckling in the current.  He felt badly enough about Violeta's scary encounter with Nen without thinking that he should have kept a closer eye on her. 

Finally, I kinda miss babyish Belle!



This newsletter is dedicated to John Dye whose encouraging, calming words as Andrew have comforted me through many losses.  And I know that goes for so many people reading this, too!

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(Photo Credits: The photographs used on this page are from Touched by an Angel and owned by CBS Productions, Caroline Productions, and Moon Water Productions. They are not being used to seek profit.)