For Ilene

August 31, 2009 08:09 – 08:09

For the first two weeks after July 2nd, all I had were nightmares of reenactment, my conscious mind clutching desperately for a different outcome, my unconscious mind refusing to un-tense long enough for real dreams to occur. Since July 18th, I’ve sometimes had pleasant dreams that include Katie—and for those brief interludes, July 2nd didn’t happen. Then, I wake up, the dream is over, and July 2nd suddenly is back on the calendar. Yet, the dreams give me a lingering sense that Katie is still with us, hiding during the day, but resurfacing in a parallel universe I can enter only when my body goes to sleep. And this lingering sense that she’s still here takes the edge of hopelessness off of my grief.

Some of my dreams seem more like memory than like the fiction my dreams usually create. Only, they happen in places I’ve never been and in a different era I can’t identify. I’ve had these kinds of dreams off and on throughout my life, and they always involve significant people in my life, as well as people I haven’t yet met. Occasionally, they include someone I haven’t yet met—and later meet them for real, and recognize them as someone from a dream. The first time that happened was in April, 1961. We had just moved from Norfolk to Fairfax County, and the night before I started in my new 3rd grade class at Rose Hill Elementary, I had a dream that included people I had never met in real life. The following day, I met one of those people and had the first déjà vu experience of my life. While identities in dreams often are different from real life, on that occasion, that person’s name was the same as it was in the dream.

But, I don’t talk about this stuff because it’s too weird. I’d love to believe that these are glimpses of a distant past, a distant future, or a distant now—or a sampling of all. In the odd “memory dreams,” I search for technological clues, but oddly, all hints of technology—such as cell phones, house phones, television, cars, watches, etc.—are absent.

The dreams most likely are subconscious inventions that provide a buffer against the harshness of reality. But, they introduce enough doubt about stark reality that they provide a cushion against hopelessness and despair. Maybe they’re necessary for me to face a life filled with random events that can shatter our futures in a split second. Whatever they are, they do the job. They provide a little bit of comfort. I hope others who miss Katie can have the same kinds of dreams. They don’t change what happened on July 2nd, but they provide a brief refuge from that harsh reality, they make me eager to sleep and dream at night, and they make it easier to get out of bed in the morning.

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