I’ve always had a crazy dream life, but this last week has been unusually intense. Not only do I dream intricate, elaborate plots drawn from all stages of my far-flung life, but this week’s dreams have featured all-nighters: waking up multiple times in shock, terror, and relief, only to fall right back into the same dreams until morning. Plot twists this week include being falsely accused of murder and sent to a Siberian camp where I’m forced to sleep outside with only a Hefty bag for a blanket; being separated from my kids for months in another country, stuck in a hotel I can’t afford and will be punished for staying in when my tab comes due; and getting lost for days in a dystopian London where I can’t remember a single street, landmark, or any clue to my husband’s whereabouts, riding endless underground trains in waterlogged tunnels that lead to madness and despair.
Have fun with that, you dream interpreters! There were a few bright spots: Stephen Colbert showed up twice to comfort me, even putting aside a Washington engagement to wash and detangle my filthy hair after the prison episode. He’s a great guy, at least in my dreams. And my childhood best friend and I have been planning, on several successive dream nights, to do a cross-country bicycle trip, as I did in back in my twenties, if we can conquer obstacles like the ones I’ve just mentioned.
It does make me wonder what’s going on inside to produce such terrifying dreamscapes and scenarios. Nothing has outwardly changed, except for having to euthanize two of my dearest pets within the past 14 days. Casper was my faithful dog companion for over 16 years, living to the very ripe old age of 19. I struggled for months as his energy waxed and waned, never sure if I was keeping him alive for his sake or mine. His loyalty never wavered, but his body, swollen with strange lumps and crippled with arthritis, was clearly giving out. I took him to the family cabin for one final, wonderful week, where he rallied to the occasion before returning home and worsening. He died a peaceful death with a loving vet in charge, and I felt relief, more than anything, that the decision-making was over. Still, my heart breaks every time I come home or wake up to not find him waiting.
Our 16 year old cat, Oliver, who came into our family the same week as Casper, suffered an enormous abscess on his head that wouldn’t heal. He too enjoyed a long, full life, but his death feels more tragic. He was physically fine, until he wasn’t. His departure shocked me. A fearless outdoor adventurer, he’d outlived so many cat lives, I thought he’d never die. I keep glimpsing him out of the corner of my eye, and he showed up in my dreams last night, alive and well, with his black face turned white.
I hope they’re romping in pet heaven together. And also I hope and believe that our spirits will all be united someday. After all, Jesus promises that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). Our beloved pets are part of God’s creation, aren’t they? And what a gift they are, bringing joy, comfort, companionship, cuddles, and play into our daily lives. Surely they’ll be part of the reunion joys that await us in heaven!
As for these serial dreams of mine, I’m half terrified, half curious to see where I’ll be running, striving, hiding, or seeking tonight. The ante keeps upping. Maybe I ought to try screenwriting an adventure-and-horror series, based on my nighttime tribulations. But the storylines stretch credulity, and I really don’t want to relive the dark parts.
What about you? Do you have all-nighter dreams? Recurring dreams that keep altering the details? Dreams about being cozy with celebrities? (Besides Stephen, I’m nighttime buddies with Oprah, Barack, and Michelle. Sometimes they seek my wise input. Donald showed up once, but we weren’t friendly.) Do you yearn to see your pets in heaven? Do you think I’ll ever get started on that dream bike trip?
Update: So last night the bike trip dreams continued…This time, my companions changed to four friends from Africa who’d never camped or bike toured before. After instructing them on what to pack and expect, we got snowed in as the weather turned sour and we stalled our departure. I got up early and waited for them to get up and eat breakfast so we could set off. Hours passed. I fretted over not having my trusty old road map to guide us. I ate fried chicken and over-buttered toast for breakfast with some Nigerians I didn’t know who doubted that I’d ever lived in Lagos. Then I found out the four had left without me…and who knows what direction they took? Foiled again!