The Moving On Dream

After a long hiatus, I have returned to my dream blog. It’s not that I wasn’t dreaming all these months, but I have been working on two other books, an Ebook on Writing Memoir (in a few months it will be on my site) and a poetry manuscript. My last blog entry was on my mother’s death. I want to return to that period because I had so many dreams at the time, there was almost an onslaught I couldn’t keep up with. Having lost my father when my siblings and I were all still quite young, our mother became a powerful matriarch. Now that I was losing her, albeit that she was 94 and 5 years into severe dementia. I know I had many mixed feelings. She had for so long been sharp and clear and independent. It was heartbreaking to see her totally dependent. Since I was the sibling most in charge of her, I coped best as I could with hiring aides, visiting nurses, changing medications but my dreams repeatedly told me my own feelings were out of control. I felt helpless and inept when it came to seeing my mother lose her mind. Since I am single too, I couldn’t help but come into contact with my fears for the future.

Here is one of those dreams that, in retrospect, I would call “prognostic,” that is, it tells of the future, tells me the future without my mother would be all right. Jung might have called it “a compensatory dream,” because it compensates for my conscious attitude which was doubtful and frightened at the time I had it shortly after her death. Here is the dream i wrote down:

We’re going to travel in this heavy car, a modern SUV. It’s early morning. We pack in confusion. Should I bring a blanket, a scarf? All my siblings and me, and my mother, who is going to drive us to a house we rented for a vacation. She’s confident, or trying to be. All the bags are in the trunk. My brothers are young, we’re all younger, close to the ages we were when our father died.We’re going to be gone for a long time. I worry I’ve forgotten something. The car moves slowly like a boat. Sometimes I’m steering, sometimes, Mom. We kids squabble amongst ourselves. I see a high school boyfriend, he may be in the car too. We’re going to a new place with all our stuff. We’re somewhat excited, somewhat anxious. It all depends on Mom. She’s driving . . . I’m driving . . . This is the world after Daddy.

It’s not a difficult dream to analyze, pretty transparent. It’s early in mourning. We;re squabbling, which is what we did as not everyone could agree on when she should be relinquished to professional care. What did surprise me was the throwback in our ages, and the sense that we all lived together like we did when my Dad passed unexpectedly when I was 15, my older brother 17, and the two other kids 11, and 6. The truth is we’ve all been living all over the country, in different states, for close to 30 years. I can’t recall the last time the four siblings were together. It seems that always one of us is missing. And my mother lived alone all this time, a long distance from all of us except my sister. In any event, I was the only unmarried one and it made sense for me to be the chief caretaker. I moved to Florida to see about my mother and she was worse off than she’d let on. Then came five difficult years. She lived to 94 and in the end she only died from old age. Her mind was gone but her body stayed healthy for several years. Her suffering was really our suffering, especially mine as I watched day after day as her mind deteriorated until she was oblivious. I found it painful to watch, though after awhile she wasn’t conscious of what was happening.

In the dream we are both driving at different times. Ultimately she drove the situation and I had to steer it. It was one of those dreams where you have to get somewhere and you’re not even sure where you’re going. There was a sense of it being a good place, a vacation, a place of rest. I suppose we are all headed there eventually. In dreams cars often represent the body, the way we get along in the world. The way the car moved like a boat is interesting because in many threshold dreams, one is moving across water, as in crossing the river of life into death. We see that theme so much in literature. I think of Dante’s Inferno, or Greek mythology where the boatsman, Charon, escorts the shades (souls) to the underworld of Hades (which is not the Christian hell, but just the world of those who had died. ) The car itself is a big SUV. I’ve never had one, nor did my mother or any of the kids. But I associate “safety” with the size of the car. Comfort too. It’s a good choice of a car to travel in. We’re all a little insecure. Soon it will be the world after Mom. I want to get there, to that resting place, her resting place, settle down to a life without mom . . . What will that be like?

The prevailing mood is both excitement and nervousness. Something is changing; something new is coming to be. I was surprised in the dream to see my high school boyfriend but upon waking it made sense to me. He has appeared in many of my dreams always as an escort, a shoulder to lean on. I was lucky to have had such a loving, supportive boyfriend back then and he stayed in my unconscious and shows up symbolically in situations where I am unsure of myself. As Jung taught, everything in the dream is an aspect of the dreamer, so I have this inner, young masculine,18-year-old energy, inside, enough to take over and lead the situation as 18 is often the age we leave home.

There is a sense in the dream that we will be away a long time. And it was a long road to my mother’s death. And of course, it is a life-changing event. I won’t ever live in the mother’s presence again. The feeling paralleled somewhat how we all felt when my father died. His death was sudden and unexpected and all of us pulled together behind my very strong mother who raised all four of us by herself, put us all through college and didn’t do anything for herself until we were all out of the house. Mom did the driving. And so the association to my father’s death naturally spoke to her own death. Yet the dream was reassuring, at a time when I did not feel reassured.

The feeling of being at sea is a good metaphor for those last years with my mother. Still, the dream indicated it would be all right. We would get there . . . get through it. We’re in a big strong car, it will take us there safely. We can trust that we’ll get to the right place, at the right time. And we did.

To hear a discussion on dreams, writing and intuition, please watch my video interview posted on the right hand corner of this page.

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