The Remembering Dreams
I know that I dream often, because when I wake up suddenly, I can still grasp the shreds of what my mind was creating. Or occasionally something I am doing or something someone says will jog my mind with a flash of deja vu. Whatever those dreams were, they quickly dissolve and are forever gone. But then, there are the Remembering Dreams. I have had three of them, and I don't know for sure why they stayed, but they are as firmly etched in my mind as the moment I awoke. Were they lessons? Were they messages? I have struggled to understand.
The first dream came several months after the death of my half Arabian, Nebah. He was almost 35 when he died. He had been my companion since his birth and for all of my adult life. In my dream he and I were galloping across a wild-looking meadow surrounded by trees. Suddenly we were confronted with a large, downed tree. Nebah loved to jump and I could feel him gather himself and vault joyfully over the trunk. There was a momentary hesitation in his flight as we passed over the trunk, but we landed safely and kept on going. And then my dream shifted and I was standing out in the meadow watching as Nebah and I came galloping toward the downed tree. As he sailed over it, I could see that the hesitation had been caused by one of his front legs getting ripped on a broken branch and that it was bleeding profusely as the two of us galloped off. I wanted to call, to stop the "me" that was riding off on Nebah, but I couldn't. And I couldn't understand. How could I not have known? Why hadn't I checked? Why had I just kept on riding while he was bleeding? I woke up weeping.
The second dream came after the death of my best friend, Kathryn. She and I had been riding buddies, a mutual support group and a political assault team for equestrian issues in our county for over 15 years. She was only 57 when her heart gave out, ravaged by the effects of Lupus. In my dream I was wandering through a densely wooded area and it was dark. I knew it was dusk and the light would soon be gone. It was snowing and I was very cold. As I made my way through the woods, there was a thinning of the trees and I could see what looked like a campground with a lot of tents pitched on it. I knew that there were lanterns burning inside the tents—I could see light and moving silhouettes. And then Kathryn came out of one of the tents, dressed in Florence Nightingale-style clothing—right down to the white cap and short cape. She saw my bewilderment and took me aside. She told me that she was here to help the people in the tents who were dying. She had come to prepare them, but that her job was done now. As she began to walk off, I tried to call. I wanted her to stay. But I saw her figure moving toward the trees, dissolving, and then there was nothing but footprints continuing to appear, leading off into the snow, until they, too, stopped. I woke up bewildered.
The third dream came while my mom was in a nursing home in the last stages of kidney failure. My dad had fallen and broken his hip and was in the same room with her. He was recovering—she was dying. In my dream Mom was asking me to help her to get up and go shopping. I said I would try and helped her into a wheelchair. The dream shifted and I was wheeling Mom down the sidewalk of a small town with a lot of little shops. She told me she could use the walker instead of the wheelchair. I was concerned about that but let her try and she did fine. Then she decided to switch to a cane and I told her she wasn't able to use a cane any more and she needed to sit and let herself rest, because she hadn't even been outside in months. She just smiled at me and kept walking and at that point I realized that Dad was walking along with us. And then I became aware that we were no longer on the sidewalk, but we were ascending a hill on a gravel road. As we reached the top of the hill I could see what looked like an English village down in a protected valley. There were many clouds in the sky, but the sun was breaking through and shafts of light were shining on the village. As I looked at Mom and Dad beside me I saw she had no cane. I tried to tell her that she'd fall without the cane—but again she smiled and said "That's all right. I don't need a cane, because daddy's with me and I can lean on him." They began to walk down the hill, and I realized they were standing tall again. As they walked away from me, I could feel a sense of peace flooding through me. I awoke wrapped up in that peace.
If we dream many dreams each night, then we must dream millions during our lifetime. Why some dreams linger when most dissolve is a mystery. Are they lessons? Messages? Do dreams come only from within our minds, or can they come from other sources? And if we don't know the answer to that with certainty, how can we even hope to understand them?
Understanding the unexplainable requires a step of faith. When we cannot put our finger on how or why something has happened—when logical explanations fail us—then the presence of miracles moves into the realm of possibility. God touches us.
I have struggled for an understanding of these three dreams, and in the end I have decided that they were given to me by a loving and compassionate God as both a lesson and a source of comfort, because they contained things I needed to know. The dream about Nebah was the most difficult to understand. As hard as I tried, I couldn't remember a time when I had ignored his needs. Where did this vision that wracked me with such grief and guilt come from? The understanding I have come to is that the point of the dream was to illustrate to me in the most intense manner possible that I should have no regrets about Nebah. That I had always done the best I could for him. That the depth of my caring for him was so great that even the thought of something happening to him in a dream could shake me to my core. I never was, nor could I ever have been that person who kept on riding.
I think the dream about Kathryn was a lot simpler. I think this dream was sent to reassure me that even though Kathryn's work on earth was through, she still was a vital and well-used messenger. She was always a comfort to me as a friend; now she would be a comfort to other souls. Although that understanding didn't ease the grief of her passing, it helped me to better accept it.
I guess the dream about Mom and Dad pretty much speaks for itself. There was no stopping what was happening to Mom. There was no question that Dad's time was also running short. But this dream came to prepare me. To deliver God's promise that it would be OK for them. They would be together. They would be strong and whole. And I could be at peace. And that's what has happened. With each of those dreams and the losses they represent, I have been given a miracle. My soul has been given peace.