Whether it's the drugs or my suppressed anxieties, my dreams have been more vivid - both beautiful and frightening - than ever in my life. Often, I don't like the answer when I try to analyze them, but sometimes, it's these dreams that give me hope.
I receive a regular showing of what I've come to call the "soldier dream." I've been having these dreams long before Beyonce's Grammy performance of "If I Were A Boy" that featured a riot police-like entourage. However, the choreography in that brought my dream to life in an eerie fashion. In these dreams there are thousands of these steel, ebony armor-clad men coming at me in syncopated rhythm. Some are marching on foot and some are on their stomachs doing the Army crawl. As they head toward me they swiftly turn their heads from left to right in perfect synchronization with their movements. Left. Right. Left. Right. Stone-faced and powerful they head toward me. When they reach me, I wake up. But I'm not afraid of them. They're the good guys. They're my protectors. All of these molded muscled men are on the attack for me. We don't need to call on Freud to interpret that one.
Another frequent offender is the running dreams. Running, running, running away from I don't know what. I never see the attacker. But suddenly my legs will give out or I'll hit a dead end or something will stop me from being able to go forward. I always have a gun on me and I raise it, but I can never, ever shoot it. My gun doesn't work or I just can't get myself to pull the trigger. And then I wake up. Usually in screams and sweats.
Often I will wake up screaming, even from deep naps. Or I'll wake up groaning and trying desperately to call out. There have been times that I've been napping on the living room couch and Craig will come running in from the far other end of the house where he'd heard me screaming to find me in a pseudo-conscious state. He'll have to talk me back to reality and comfort me until I realize that it was all a dream. As mentally taxing as the dreams and the realities are for me I think it's harder for my husband. All throughout the night every time he tosses in his sleep I feel him checking my temperature with the back of his hand on my forehead and feeling my skin for the cold dampness mixed with pooled sweat that he's come to dread but is now accustomed to.
For me the paradox is that once I do ease into consciousness it's my real life that's often harder to face. Waking up and remembering all of this all over again every day - what I've been through, what's yet to come, the aches, the baldness, the scars, the unknown - is what nightmares are made of. People wake up to escape those types of things. For me, I wake up every day and have to try to make peace with what is my reality and garner the strength to get out of bed and face it. Some days are more difficult than others. Some days I just lay and stare. Sometimes I cry. But I just let whatever I'm feeling that day happen and the important part is that I do get up and no matter how difficult it is, I am always able to get back to the realization of how lucky I am to have each day to wake up to and conquer. Sometimes it just take a little longer to get to that place.
There are also the beautiful, beautiful dreams. But sometimes these worry me more, like I shouldn't "follow the light." In one I was bouncing on clouds with a huge group of friends. As I bounced on each cloud, out would burst my favorite things - unreal colors - then all my favorite things would pour down over me like rain. We ran through these clouds and laughed and danced like it was an LSD trip.
Then there are the dreams that I can't figure out. Like last night, I dreamed I was carrying a young girl, maybe two years old, my daughter. She had delicate blonde ringlets surrounding her head like an angel. I was carrying her on my hip and holding Sammy on her red leash on my other arm. Sammy was older. She wasn't pulling. We were at a fair of some sort and the little girl on my hip wanted a balloon. I told her she could have any color that she wanted and she picked pink. I went up to the booth and asked if I could just buy a ballon. We didn't want to go in to the fair. I just wanted a balloon for my daughter. They wouldn't give it to us. There was a fat, grouchy lady behind the ticket booth who said we had to get a ticket for the fair to be able to buy a balloon. I begged and begged and finally said: "Listen lady, I am dying and I have no money. I can't afford a ticket. My child just wants a balloon, please." I was bald. This is the first dream that I've ever had where I've been bald. Usually I have long, flowing hair that I'm constantly playing with.
The woman finally balked and told us to go see "Ted." Sammy, my daughter and I climbed over a huge mound of flattened corrugated cardboard boxes to find Ted. An ashen faced man sucking back a long cigarette came around the mound of cardboard.
"We're here for a pink balloon," I said, trying so hard to stay positive and excited for this wide-eyed little girl on my hip.
"We've only got orange," he grumbled and handed her the white ribbon with a gawdy, 70s-home- decor-orange balloon floating feet above her.
She was ecstatic and didn't even comment that it wasn't pink.
Then I woke up and quietly cried myself back to sleep.