February 13, 2011

About 3 years ago, my dog passed away. I’d had her since I was 12, and her death was very difficult for me and my family. It wasn’t something we planned.¬†She was getting old, but the finality of her death struck suddenly. I was in California, and my parents called to break the news. I cried. She’d been a birthday gift and a dear friend throughout my childhood. She had curly little ears and the softest head. She slept next to me at night.

Recently night-time dreams have been giving me some trouble.

They started fairly bizarre — a few about fish morphing into kitchen utensils. In one, I showed up to the office wearing only underwear; in another, I drank a gallon of paint.

Around Christmas, they became somewhat more alarming. In December, I jolted awake nearly every night. In one dream, a man with a mustache grabbed me and threw me on a bed. He attacked me. I couldn’t move and thankfully awoke before I knew all that he intended.

In another, I was stabbed in the stomach multiple times with a giant syringe.

There were many dreams about falling into darkness and awaking gripping my blankets, my shirt sweat-soaked. My serial teeth-falling-out dreams made a comeback. A former boyfriend and his friend berated me while spitting on either side of my face.

In another, I went into a public restroom at the fairgrounds with my five-year-old niece. She got mad because I wouldn’t let her do something. She disappeared when I turned my back, and I couldn’t find her. I ran all around the place, calling her name, looking for her, digging up dirt, but she was gone. I was so afraid. So, so afraid. I told God that he just couldn’t take away something so dear, that we had to find her.

I dreamt that I had an affair with a friend’s husband. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I sat there trying to sort it all out, picturing my friend’s face. I was so grateful to wake up that I could have cried.

In the worst dream, I was sleeping in a large, cold, empty warehouse. Stacks of newspapers lined the walls, and they covered all the windows. I slept near the windows on a pile of the newspapers. I could feel a presence inside me that was oppressive, and I needed to et it out, so I kept chanting, “You have to get out of me. You have to get out of me. Please get out of me. You have to get out of me.” People, some of them creepy, kept peering in the windows at me. It kept getting more intense, and a voice that sounded like my mother said, “Ann, you need to wake up now. It’s time to wake up now. You need to wake up now.” I woke up.

I prayed a lot about the dreams, especially when I returned to California after taking a break in Minnesota for some time with my family over Christmas. I prayed that God would protect my mind. I’ve learned some things in the past few years that I wish I didn’t know — things about how people in reality hurt other people, which is much worse than bad dreams. It is difficult to reconcile the pain of the world when you grew up going to Sunday school, reading books with your mom, being neighborly to the people next door. There was never a Sunday school flannel graph depicting racism, hatred, abuse, rape, neglect, manipulation, or slavery.

One evening, I felt particularly anxious about going to sleep. I prayed for a long time that night. In my dream that night, I was in my room in California, and my old dog came trotting up beside the bed. She jumped in with me, exactly the way she had when I was a little girl. Her velvet muzzle felt the same, and she stretched out next to me, that soft, soft head against my cheek. I whispered some things to her. She wagged her tail. I awoke feeling the kind of comfort I hadn’t experienced since living in my parents’ home 10 years before.

The next day, I told a dear friend about the dream. I got tears in my eyes while I was telling him, and he said that maybe God had sent my dog’s spirit to me at a time when her presence was the only one that could comfort me.

It was really kind of new-agey. And odd things happen in dreams.

Still, I believe that God can do that.