Tag Archives: dreams

Visitations

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This week, I’ve had two vivid dreams about loved ones I’ve lost.

The first was Monday night. I startled awake at 12:30 a.m. and had no idea why. I ticked through what might have disturbed me: not the cat, who was locked in the laundry room; not my son, who recently moved out. Once I was certain the house was secure, I gathered the cottony threads of an image: my father swinging his glasses. The black frames dated back 40 years or more. “A man should always have glasses,” he was saying. In the dream, Dad performed his old routine. He pushed his glasses down his nose and eyed me until I squirmed. Then he removed his glasses and reversed them, jabbing the stems to make a point. Finally he leaned back and began swinging them from the ear piece while smiling a lopsided smile. “You see? I don’t have to say a word.”

In last night’s dream, my family was boarding a plane to… the outer planets. I carried a tray of unbaked spinach lasagna and asked one of the flight attendants if I might be able to cook it in a microwave later. Sure, she said, but first find your seat. The plane was huge, Donald Trump huge.

Looking for 37B, I soon found that the rows and seats weren’t arranged in a comprehensible order: I saw 36, then 38. Later I found row 37, but not seat B. Finally, finally, when it seemed everyone was seated and we were beginning our takeoff, I found 37B. Just then, a few rows over, I spotted my friend’s mother. “Did you see Deb?” she asked. I thought Deb had died several years ago, but the rules on this aircraft were obviously different. “She went running,” she said, flicking her head in the direction of the plane’s bow.

As soon as passengers began to mill about, I jumped out of my seat and began running in the general direction Deb’s mother had indicated. Deb was a runner and it made sense to me that she would take advantage of the plane’s gigantic size. The plane morphed into a long narrow island with cottage-lined lanes. No cars, of course. Passengers who’d booked cottages for passage had pulled out lawn chairs to watch the walkers and runners stream by. After I’d been running for about 90 minutes, I thought my legs would fall off. I didn’t think I could go much farther, but I was nearing the tip of the island/aircraft. As I ran, I kept my eyes on the stream of runners returning on an adjacent lane. Just then, I saw a woman in yellow shorts passing. Her short hair, her fit physique — I thought for sure it was her. I started screaming my friend’s name. When she turned, she was a stranger. I described my friend and asked if she’d seen her.

“She’s getting an iced tea,” she told me, pointing at a cafe rest stop. The cafe was so crowded that patrons’ bodies and cheeks were pressed against the windows, steaming them up. I opened the door and yelled. In the back of the shop, my friend stood. She threaded through the people until she reached me.

I dropped to my knees and sobbed, clinging to the the edge of her shirt and saying her name over and over. She lifted me by the elbows and said, “Why are you crying? I’m right here.”

When someone I love dies, I pray they will visit my dreams. What I really want is an on-demand dream. I just want to see them again, just once. It never works that way, of course. My unconscious follows its own muse. This week’s double feature was a rare gift. My father reminding me he doesn’t have to say a word, my friend telling me she’s right here.

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Dream Weaving

The Walloomsac Inn, Bennington, VT

For the last four nights, I’ve had vivid dreams… and remembered them, which I rarely do. Maybe it’s because I wrote a piece based on a recurrent dream — well, nightmare — I had as a child. The whole Freudian listen-to-your-dreams thing has always struck me as a little goofy, but let’s have a little fun. Play along with me, won’t you?

  • Night # 1 – The tale of the tumbledown house: I am doing a walk through of a house in terrible condition with a realtor and my husband (always the value real estate shopper). The location alone makes it a potential good investment (in Minnesota?) , but the place was built strangely and has lots of negatives: probable mold, harlequin red and green stained glass windows that make the interior strangely dark, and flooring in such poor condition that my stiletto heel (me in stilettos?) pokes through the subflooring spearing a chunk of pink insulation. I am in an increasing state of disbelief and finally say it’s too much of a mess. We walk away.
  • Night #2 – Three dreams in which I arrive late, two in classrooms where poetry is being taught: In the first, a nonprofit board meeting, I am late and frustrated because I can’t get through the line to get in and then I don’t have a seat; in the second, I am late (again) and can’t understand the pattern of the list that the female teacher, a poet, is writing on the board; and in the third, I come in as class is wrapping up and seek out the teacher, a poet, after class to talk to him about the semester assignment to write 320 pages. I tell him I’m a Bennington writing student and he says, “You guys are the worst.” When I asked why, he said that we can write but we can never figure out how to pull the packet together. I tell him I’ve lived a little, that I want to explore The Word. He smiles and says I’ll do fine. I am relieved.
  • Night #3 – Rainy season: The house on stilts where I am living with two children is safely above water level as the rainy season begins, but as I watch the waters rise slowly, I worry the road will flood and become pestilential. I am ticked at the base housing manager who is supposed to address the road drainage problem.
  • Night #4 – A busy night of dreams: In the first, I recover in the hospital from a cracked spine injury and get out of bed to go to the cafeteria after the nurse tells me they ran out of food on the unit; then, after a vacation at a resort, I end up driving the bus with my fellow tourists down a narrow levee and then successfully (and confidently) back it down a switchback; finally, I go for a run alone along a drainage ditch in Davis.

Hmmm. Houses. Classrooms. Teachers. Late. Flooding. Driving. Running. There’s a story, isn’t there? At least one.

Turning to the wisdom of the Internet, here is one possible interpretation:

I am leaving behind my old attitudes (run down house) and expanding my knowledge (classroom), better late than never (late) and ready to learn (teacher). The good news is that my worries will soon be swept away (gentle flooding), I am healing (hospital) from some weakness (broken bone), have accepted the challenge before me (driving), have faith in myself (water), and am determined and motivated in the face of my goals (running alone).

Here is another:

I need to update my thinking (run down house) and I am learning an important life lesson (classroom). I am ambivalent about a new opportunity (late) and I have childhood anxieties that have never been resolved (school) and am looking for approval (teacher). I need to release some sexual desires (flooding) but am afraid of losing control (hospital) and there is a weakness in my plans (broken bone) plus I am facing setbacks (driving backwards). And finally I need to make a decision (running) and stop wallowing in my negative emotions (muddy drainage ditch).

You decide. And leave my sex life out of it. 😉

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Dreaming, Again

Pt. White sunset by Betsy C Stone

I dreamt of water again.

Friday afternoon I received the unbelievable news that one of my oldest friends died suddenly; a freak, bolt-of-lightning, one-in-a-million medical event tore her away from us, and in the process, ripped a hole in the universe.

The hours between 3:30 in the afternoon, when I received the call, and 12:30 a.m., when I collapsed in a hotel bed, felt numberless.

I awakened early with the fragmentary memory of floating on water. How did I get there? Slowly I followed bread-crumbs of crazy images backward as far as I could.

I was in the attic of a four-story ramshackle Victorian. Around me were strange but genial characters who resembled figures out of stories: a giant, an old man with a long beard, and a curly-headed individual who resembled Merry Brandybuck but initially seemed neither male nor female.

I was happy to see “Merry” in my dream. As I hugged her in reunion – by then this character was a she — it had the feeling of simultaneous greeting and farewell.

Then the house collapsed. It had been unstable to begin with, with floors no longer square above the other, the attic teetering on top, off balance. We had already taken note of a gash in the wooden floorboards, below which we could see sky.

The attic suddenly gave way, but rather than crashing to earth as we expected, the room transformed into an aircraft. A fuselage of patched boards took shape and the walls tore away, revealing long extensions on both sides: wings.

Immediately, the house-turned-plane dived downward, out of control. Though shocked, Merry and I weren’t afraid. I looked at Merry, smiling and sending a silent message that said, “I love you… I’m grateful you were in my life… we’ll be together again.”

Just before the moment of impact, our craft stabilized into a glide, inches above the water. We floated above a gently meandering river, safe. Then as we rounded a bend, tall trees on both sides sheared off the wings. Now, surely, we would die.

A plume sprayed up on both sides. Miraculously, our craft held. The convex hull buoyed us on the water. We were safe.

After Dad died, I hoped that I would be sent the kind of dream that comforted me after the death of my mother: a vision of her happy and whole, sitting at the kitchen table in her favorite pink satin bathrobe. Instead, I had water dreams. In the first, I heroically forded a cold river to rescue a boat that was to be used in a race. In the second, I returned home to find the ferryman Charon, replete with black swim cap, seated in my living room, waiting to help Dad cross over.

I dreamt of water again. This time, I got to say goodbye and tell her we would meet again.

Source of all blessings, you bless us with dreams-dreams while we sleep and dreams in our most wakeful moments. May I be responsive to both forms of dreams and pass these blessings on by living a life that is faithful to their guidance. — Brother David Steindl-Rast

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I’m Dreaming of… Strange Things

Dreamscape in Cappadocia by Betsy Stone

I have not been dreaming of a white Christmas.

My friend, Collette Johnson Schulke, pays close attention to dreams in her own journey as a caregiver. I don’t think you need a psychiatrist to interpret several of my recent dreams:

  • I boarded Amtrak to San Francisco, and knew that my husband was already aboard. But the train was already so packed that there were no seats so I couldn’t sit or even be in the same train car as he was…
  • I was in a city downtown and I had to get from one high-rise to another high-rise. The only way to do it was to walk a tightrope….
  • I was a journalist writing a story about mining operations deep underground. I went down 24 floors and entered a hatch (like that on a ship) and saw people in suits intended to protect them. To my left, a team was doing a safety drill in which they had to jump off a ledge in a weighted wheelchair, drop the 10-12 feet to the stream bed of an ice cold underground spring, and roll across before emerging up the far sie — a test of their ability to survive without oxygen in extremely cold conditions.

Hmmm… let me see… facing extreme conditions… feeling like I am walking a tight rope… and feeling sad that there was no room for me or proximity to my husband. Gosh, what could these dreams mean?

Hospice came aboard yesterday. No such dreams last night. I feel much better about Dad getting what he needs, and me, too.

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