I don’t dream enough. Yet, when I do, in my dreams, I’m often on a journey and most times I have a task to do along the way, or an obstacle to overcome. (Thinking about it now, that’s not so different than life when awake, is it?) And the people who populate my dreams are often strangers; I see glimpses of them along the way, somewhat like the people you see and then don’t see on the subway. In my dreams, movement is the norm.
But then, unexpectedly, one of those strangers is suddenly familiar. I’m always caught by surprise and I feel foolish because I should have known all along because that’s when I realize or perhaps recognize the stranger is not a stranger after all: it’s a loved one who’s gone, someone who’s died, someone I’m missing.
Do you have these dreams too? Imagine if we could control our dreams, conjure at will those we long for. If only.
Once I dreamed I was looking out the passenger window of a truck, the window open, the sun shining, green waves of wheat stretching across a field and then I turned to look at the driver. It was my Dad. I hadn’t seen his eyes for years. Once, I stood up from the patio table at a restaurant and saw, at another table, my brother. He nodded and moved his chin in the direction he wanted me to look. Once, I was with someone in an unfamiliar kitchen searching for ice-cream in the freezer. When I found it and closed the door, sitting at the table was my Mom. We smiled at each other. Once, I was nervously walking on a dimly lit sidewalk in the fog when suddenly from across the street stood a friend from long ago. She waved. I waved back. Once, I walked down a gravel road next to a garden with rows of potatoes and gladiolas and then running to meet me was my grandparent’s old dog, Tub.
These sorts of dreams feel heavy and stir emotions but they don’t make me sad because they are gifts. We have very little control in our lives about who comes and who goes and when and why. It’s the same thing with our dreams. We must enjoy who we can when we can in whatever way we can before we can’t.