Do you like it when other people share their dreams? I don’t think most people do. They can be intensely personal and bizarre, and people try to make sense of them when there is often no sense to be made. In light of this, I have a dream to share with you. I woke up crying last night, fat, real tears that surprised me. The dream that induced this was ridiculous. In the dream, my father’s first wife, Nancy, was my biological mother. She lived on the streets in the dream, just as she did for many years in real life, and she wore a brightly colored mummuu. Her greasy gray hair was pulled back into a scrunchie and her face was leathery and grooved. She opened the door to an office building for me and said goodbye. It was a final goodbye. Though Nancy is not my mother in reality, in my dream she was, and this would be the last time I would ever see her. We both knew it. We looked into each other’s eyes with intention. I walked up the carpeted stairs into a dreary office: cubicles, computers, fax machines. A man stood at the top of the stairs, wearing a short-sleeved dress shirt, slacks, and a tie, standard office wear. In real life, this guy is my neighbor. He is fat, mustachioed, and unfriendly. He never waves back when he walks his dog past our house. But in my dream, he was my co-worker and he opened his arms to me and I cried and cried and cried into his dress shirt, as he patted me on my back, gently consoling me. That is when I woke up still crying.
I don’t think about my dead mother very often. I don’t think I am a very emotional person in general, which is probably some sort of defense mechanism or survival tool or whatever. But every once in a while it bubbles up and surprises me. When I was younger, I used to think I was tougher than I really am, that there was nothing I couldn’t overcome. I lacked humility in this and so many other ways. I wasn’t close to my mother and I used to like to think that her death had no effect on me. One of my friends lost her grandfather this week. Another lost her father. This is likely what triggered this dream. There is no secret meaning that requires interpretation, just, maybe, a not altogether unpleasant reminder that I am human, that I have emotions (however strangely they are sometimes expressed), that life is tenuous.