Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do You Really Hear What Your Dreams are Telling You?

Okay, before we get too far into this, I am going to be upfront and tell you this blog really isn't about dreams at all. But I am going to start with dreams because it's a whole lot easier than starting with what's really on my mind.

We'll morph into that as we go.

I've always had odd dreams as far back as I can remember. One particular recurring dream I had as a little girl. It terrified me. I shared it with my daughters once in a weak moment and they laughed until they cried. I guess what's scary to one small child is not so much to another.

I don't put a lot of stock into analyzing my dreams for meaning unless they are recurring dreams. If I am dreaming the same thing more than once then there is something niggling at my subconscious that I need to bring to the surface and address, or at least acknowledge.

Let me tell you about a dream I've had over and over before I finally took a look at what it means to me. In this dream I am always wearing in-line skates. I don't believe I have ever put on a pair in my life, but I am a pretty decent skater when asleep, apparently. The rest of the world is dressed normally, including shoes, but I am zipping through my day at an accelerated speed on my skates. But I always get going too fast. I find myself out of control and desperately braking. Like a skier turning my skis one way and the other biting hard into the snow to slow down or stop, I twist my skates one way and the other trying to dig in the wheels and stop. There is never a nasty ending to this dream. I don't fly into a busy intersection or off a cliff. I just keep trying and trying to gain control.

Gain Control.

When I finally thought seriously about this dream after the umpteen multiple times of dreaming it, I finally realized I was feeling my life was out of control. I need to 'put the brakes on' slow down, take a breath and re-evaluate. Make a list, do whatever necessary to feel that I am back at the driver's wheel. What an amazing discovery that was! Now, when I have this dream I have something to think about. I also found the dream to be a bit of fun, now that it makes sense, I can enjoy flying down a flight of stairs in my skates. Really.

For a couple of years now I have been having dreams that disturbed me involving my mother. When she died a year ago, she was very fragile in both body and mental capacity. It had been a long process, losing her abilities. She lived with me three of the last four years of her life until I couldn't care for her at home any longer. The dreams I had that involved her were simply that I would come across her somewhere and she was completely "whole." She could walk, talk, drive a car, etc. Basically she was back. It wasn't that she had never grown as disabled as she was, but that she had recovered. You may think, why would that be disturbing? Simply because it could never happen. To wake up and think someone I love has been "fixed" to quickly realize it's impossible is just too hard on me. I guess I thought it was "wishful dreaming" while she was still alive, but I continue to have those dreams, and just recently began to question why.

What I believe my dreams were telling me now is that Mom was going to be as healthy and happy as she's ever been very soon. And since her death, they continued in an effort to tell me that yes, she's "whole" again, that I should be happy for her, too. Maybe it's actually her that is sending me this message. I don't know but I'd like to think so. Part of faith is not knowing what comes next, but trusting it is wonderful. She's there. She knows. But if she can communicate with me it's only in ways that I can understand here & now. Life goes on, but not only in the way my little mortal brain can understand. I find this comforting.

And yet, there is more. Something which haunts me and riddles me with guilt. I could refer to it as my mother's dying wish, but it was conveyed to me long long before she died. While she was still very much herself and the mother I'd grown up with.

As long as I can remember my Mom had a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order) in her medical records. From the time I was in my early 20's or maybe even my teens, she would talk to me about those things. The bank had my signature on file as a signor on her bank account. My name wasn't on her checks, but I could legally sign them. I had her POA (Power of Attorney). I was told where all the important papers were and what to do if she should die unexpectedly. For me it was part of my young adulthood growing up. Things I didn't really want to think about, but I had to on the occasions she felt the need to remind me. Good thing I was a trustworthy kid or I could have robbed her blind and disappeared! Just kidding.

One thing she told me with all that other stuff, was that she desired a 'condition' on her DNR. It's not possible to put a condition on a DNR, you either don't resuscitate or you do. But her desire was that if she was dying that she be kept alive long enough for me to get there. If it was possible she wanted me by her side when she died. It's something I've known for years and that she's told me more than once.

The thing is, it was possible. But I didn't go.

The nursing home called me at 2:00 am and told me they were sending Mom to the hospital, that her vitals were very low. I took the call but couldn't muster myself out of bed. At 6:00 am the hospital called and said she wasn't going recover and I should get there right away. Mark and I left immediately but it was already too late. She was gone before we arrived.

I'm having a very very hard time forgiving myself.

I can't say Mom never asked anything of me. Whoa, that is a road I don't want to ever travel again. I was her "beloved" daughter and the one who made up for all the injustices in her life. She had expectations of her sons but if they didn't come through... well, they were boys. Sure she was annoyed, but... I felt her expectations of me to be more or less "everything" to her were much higher. On the other hand, she always said she never wanted to be a burden to her kids. She never expected us to care for her in her old age. And yet I took her into our home and cared for her and loved her perhaps the best I ever did in my entire life. That was not an expectation of hers, but a true gift from me and for me.

But I can't let go of the fact that the one thing I knew was so very important to her, to come to her before she died, was the thing I let her down on. I can't go back and have a do-over and I can't move forward and do something to make it all better.

I am hoping that part of the dream where-in she's healthy and happy, is her telling me it's okay. That that one moment in time wasn't as important as she thought it would be and that she forgives me. Or better yet, she thinks there is nothing to forgive.


  1. Oh, Betsy...your blog made me cry! :'o( My grandmother (who was basically the one that raised me) was afraid of dying alone. And the hospital insisted we go home around 2:00 a.m. and that they would call us if she took a turn for the worse. Well, they called us at 6:00 a.m....to say she was gone. I hated that hospital and I'll always wonder if they didn't just want to get rid of us so that they could hasten her along. But I have to say that I had several dreams of her in the months/years after her passing where she was whole and well again. In fact, at times it even seemed she was growing younger. In one of the most striking dreams, I was talking to her and catching her up on family things, and she said to me "Oh, yes I know, your Grandpa has been telling me all about it!" (He visited her grave fairly frequently...and probably did still talk to her a lot!) Oddly, whenever I see her in dreams, I always somehow know that I'm dreaming, (it becomes a lucid dream) and that she won't really be there when I wake up, and so I go and give her a big hug and always marvel that it feels so very real. So yes, I do believe that our loved ones can come to us in dreams from wherever they are. And that your mom is healthy and happy and knows that in your heart, you never left her side...and that she will always be there by yours. {{{Hugs}}}

  2. Connie, thank you so much for sharing with me! I was sobbing as I neared the end of what I was writing and my daughter arrived home from work and worried why I was crying! LOL

    Sometimes when I discover what my dreams are telling me I seem able to control them a little bit. In the dreams with Mom I am more of an onlooker than a participant. Now I want to be there and talk and hug her. Thank you, for that! Maybe now it will happen that way.

    My father died when I was very young and I always felt at that tender age (4 years old) that he was still with me. I'm so glad that I am not alone in those feelings. Knowin that other people feel the same makes it even truer to me.