Image by Gary Bendig on Unsplash
I have woken late this morning – almost 9 am – very late for me. But I have been drifting in and out of sleep for the past few hours – since before 6 am. I no longer remember what dream woke me before 6, but it was a tough one. I was awake for quite a long time – close to an hour – willing myself to fall back to sleep before the village church bells start at 7 am (yes – even on a Sunday), and which I inevitably hear, despite my wax ear plugs.
But I did fall back to sleep. Since before 6 am, my super snazzy watch has been telling me, with a pretty Rabbit logo, that it’s the “Year of the Rabbit!” (yes – complete with exclamation mark and little flower or is it fireworks explosions inside its belly).
And now, writing in bed, with Julia’s soft Rabbit soft toy, “Lapinou” next to me, I want to write out what I remember of some of the dreams that accompanied my perturbed morning dozing. So many filaments of dreams… most of them jerking me awake. Violently. Heart pounding hard for a while till eventually I would (re-)settle, fall back to sleep, and have more dreams.
I remember a dream in which Mike and I were driving up some roads that look like some of those in the Jura behind where we live. Quiet, forested, very few cars. Twisting and turning, gently going up. Mike was driving (clearly not the MG – for it was a left-hand drive) and we were chatting away. Life was good.
In my dream, Life felt good.
I felt good.
I was peaceful, content.
I was aware, in my dream, of how lovely it was, just to be there, together. We saw Julia and her childhood bestie M up ahead, playing by the side of the road. In my dream, it made total sense that they were there. They would be aged about 10 or so, in my dream, playing adventurously at the hairpin bends, down in the little rivulets or streams by the side of the road. Perfectly safely, so long as they knew to watch out for cars on the road, which in my dream, they did.
We slowed down to see how they were. Saw their little faces, pink and fresh, rosy and beaming and bright. “Non! Pas encore! Revenez plus tard!” (No! Not yet! Come back later!). Short exclamations of fun and expectation that would have happened hundreds of times over their childhood friendship, any time we needed to corral them into action for something else – like going home, coming to table to eat, go to an activity, or whatever.
That was one dream. I woke up before Mike and I had chance to discuss what to do – whether to hang around with them, whether to drive on a bit and come back for them, or whether to exert our parental force and make them come with us. I don’t know what might have happened, but the mood was peaceful, joyous, and I feel we would have let them be, safely playing in the muddy stream, building dams or whatever they were doing. Letting them be kids, for just a little bit longer.
It is so very rare that Julia is alive in my dreams. Whether I dream of her directly, or whether I dream of other things. She is almost always dead. I think this dream is only the second or third in three and a half years of her being dead, that she was alive. Invariably she is dead, even in my dreams. But here she was happy, joyous, playing.
But still I woke up violently. No respite, even in my dreams.
In another dream, I was at an event (a seminar or a book launch) for Robert Holden – a contemporary writer and coach I really admire. I have been to many of his workshops over the years – most recently in December 2019 with Medjool. He writes and talks and consults about success, happiness, love, the Enneagram, and much more. I know and love his work, and as I reflect on the dream, it is amazing to me how my mind conjured up an event where he was be a speaker.
The tablecloth-covered tables for book signing.
Jugs of water.
Vases of flowers.
Hordes of people – with the primarily female audience.
And him, with his intense look, concentrated brown eyes, humour twitching around his eyes and mouth, forever being on the cusp of saying something wise and witty in equal measure. In my dream, my brain even conjured up his wisdom.
If it is a dream, is that still his wisdom, or is it mine?
Anyway – we were at a break, and during the break we were given a small sachet of biscuits, and each biscuit had our respective name on. So I had a little doggy bag of biscuits with the name “Emma”. I was with a girlfriend (though I have no idea who… no-one I knew in my real life, but in my dream she was a proper, bonafide girlfriend). And we were invited, should we want, to have another little baggy of biscuits with the name of the person we most loved. For evidently the conference was about Love.
I was pressed up to the long table. Various staff were coming to ask us, in turn, which name we would like the biscuits to have. They went off to the end of the table, where their supplies were, and brought back a new baggy. (Not very environmentally friendly, all of this, of course. But no worry. It was just a dream).
I was stressing. Fretting. Hesitating. Going back and forth in my mind. Shall I ask for Mike or Medjool? Mike or Medjool? (In my dream, as in my waking life, Mike was dead, and I am in relationship with Medjool). Mike who I love so very dearly and who is dead and who cannot eat the biscuits? Medjool who is alive and who I love so very dearly and who can actually enjoy the biscuits?
Finally it was my turn to be served. A staff member asked me what name I would like to have on the biscuits, and I blurted out “Medjool”.
There. I said it. I felt relief at having made my choice.
And I felt distraught that I had even had to.
Reminiscent of the horror that Meryl Streep’s character has to make in “Sophie’s Choice”.
I awoke again, heart pounding. Deep breaths.
B r e a t h e.
B r e a t h e.
B r e a t h e.
And so back to sleep. Plunging into yet another dream. A violent dream, this one.
In this dream, Julia was dead.
The context was that Julia had gone walking in the Alps with my Granny May. (That they only overlapped by 15 months in real life – Julia was born in 2004 and my Granny died in 2005 – is neither here nor there in the dream. Irrelevant).
They had been on a big, long, snowy excursion. An adventure. But had not returned. For a long time. For days. Weeks, perhaps.
In the dream, I was sobbing at the loss of it all. All of my family was. The shock and devastation. The immediate aftermath of learning about a death, deaths, where your heart feels like an axe has slashed through it.
Trying to understand what had happened. Making up scenarios in my mind. They had slipped? Granny May was elderly but fit in the dream. Experienced in the snowy mountains. Julia was just a young child – perhaps 7 years old. Too young to know much about snowy conditions in the mountains. Too young to have a mobile phone. Perhaps even too young to know how to use one.
Granny had had a phone (in the dream). Why hadn’t she called if they got into difficulty? What had happened to them? Would we even know? We knew that they were both dead, though. That a terrible accident must have befallen them, and that we would never see either of them alive again.
My mind concluding that perhaps Granny had slipped. Fallen. Died of her injuries. And Julia was too young to be able to get help for Granny or herself. And that both had died.
And that in time – later that year, in the summer, in years or decades into the future, their bodies would be found. We would be contacted. And I would learn – again – that my daughter had died. That while I already knew she had died, I would have to hear it all over again.
Such is the violence of my nightlife.