Dreams: Before and After

I hate sleep now.

abstract watercolor illustration of a bright sunshine over a forest and a field
Image created via Midjourney

I used to love sleep.  

When I first lived on my own, in college, I was never the type to stay up late, studying.  I would prefer an early bedtime with a full night's rest.  I come from a long line of excellent nappers, so even when my kids were little, we would place high importance on naps, even engaging in "collective family naps" where everyone, adults included, would head into peaceful slumber for hours in the afternoon.  Our sacred siesta.  I found that I did not function well if I was not properly rested.

I hate sleep now.  Or, I should say, I love the idea of sleeping and want to feel rested, but it is anything but peaceful.  Between nightmares and anxiety, the quality of my sleep is compromised; perhaps even more compromised than when I had tiny infants.  I have learned to function in a daze.

In church yesterday, the sermon topic was "dreams": what do our dreams tell us about our subconscious?  What can we learn, if we pay attention?

I woke from a dream last night around 1:30 a.m.  At the time, I distinctly remembered the content of my dream.  I had been awakened, frightened.  So alarmed that I stayed awake for two additional hours, just trying to relax.  I finally fell back asleep, entering into a different dream, and when I woke up this morning, the memories of the first dream had faded completely.  I only remembered the second.

In my second dream, I was getting ready to attend a prom: as an adult.  I had on a dress and accessories.  A friend came to pick me up to take me to the required destination.  I was still looking for shoes, and my hair was wet (amusing - since in real life, my hair is often wet when I am running out the door, as I rarely take care to dry it properly).  It was perhaps the person who arrived in my dream that was most surprising.  Bridget: she was not a friend with whom I was particularly close.  I have not seen her in person since high school.  In adulthood, she died, from a combination of alcohol and Tylenol.  

In my dream, she looked exactly as she did the last time I saw her: fresh-faced, with long, straight brown hair to her waist.  Not as she appeared in photographs I saw of her later on social media as she grew older.  It was an odd dream encounter, as I have not thought about her since I heard of her death.

After waking, I went in search of the date of her death, as I could not remember.  It was January 30th of this year.  Just 12 days before I learned that I had lost Iris.  I was surprised; I had thought that it had been years, it feels so long ago.  Yet, it also seems that it has been a long time since I lost my babies.

Even the deaths of others I am not framing in relationship to the loss of my babies. I have to keep reminding myself that it has not been that long.  It was odd that on the day after I listened to a sermon about dreams, and the meaning of dreams, that I should think of her.  Her family is approaching the holidays like I am, likely with a heavy heart, facing days where others are joyful in the midst of loss.

Yes, dreams are different now.  In that now I am forced to think of them and wonder what the night holds for me, whereas before I approached sleep without fear.

I heard my kids shuffling around in their shared room just now. I went in to remind them of bedtime. The four-year-old was lying on the floor, so tired from playing that he lacked energy to climb into bed.  I picked him up and tucked him between his sheets. And envied how easy it will be for him to fall asleep.