A Few Moments in an Unsettling Dream

I woke too early this morning and a hard time getting back to sleep. When I finally dozed off, I dreamt of my deceased life mate/soul mate. The events in the dream must have taken place at the end of his life when he was so often disoriented, because he was trying to cook something, and he continued pouring whatever it was into the pan after the pan was filled, getting the food all over the stove, him, the floor, even me. I tried to catch his attention so he’d stop, and when I couldn’t, I slapped him to bring him back to reality.

I don’t know where that dream came from. I seldom dream of him, and never once did I slap him in real life, especially not at the end when it took all he had just to get through another hour — or even minute — of life. I never even considered slapping him. I hate women who slap men. If it’s not okay for men to raise a hand to women, it’s just as not okay for women to raise a hand to men, no matter what the provocation.

During those last weeks of his life, I was so eaten up with sorrow for him and for me, so focused on him and his well being, or rather his as-well-as-possible being, that I found infinite patience. (It was the year before that, when I didn’t know what was happening to him, when he became a stranger I didn’t even particularly like, that too often I found myself impatient. But even then I never raised a hand to him, though I did sometimes bristle and clench my fists in frustration.)

Still, whatever the origin of the dream, it’s left me feeling teary and even ashamed as if I really had slapped him. Although I always miss him and never forget him, I sometimes forget that once I lived a different life — a life with him — and the dream reminded me of that life. I do know that if he had continued to live, life would have been pure torture for both of us, and the dream reminded me of that particular reality. But oh, it was so good to see him, if only for a few brief moments in an unsettling dream.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

10 Responses to “A Few Moments in an Unsettling Dream”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Very strange. Perhaps it’s some sort of message only you can decipher. That’s the answer of speculative fiction, anyway.

  2. leesis Says:

    I don’t know about you Pat but I have found that as the grief process comes near the end we often are challenged by our own minds, sometimes in dreams, to resolve issues that make us feel guilt/shame/embarrassment etc when we look back. For me at least even if you had slapped him no shame is due. We are not saints…we are human with all the strengths and weakness that entails.

  3. joyboomer Says:

    My take is that you were slapping the illness that took him from you, that was spilling out into your life and his and gradually took over everything until it destroyed your life with Jeff. But I have found that any dream I have of John, even the ones that don’t make any sense, are good dreams because I get to see and hear him again. I’m sure it was good to see Jeff again for you too.

  4. Holly Bonville Says:

    In the beginning, for about a year or so, I had dreams almost every night. In each, he left me in some way. Every night, a different dream with a different way of leaving. Each dream left me heartbroken every time.As time wore on, the dreams occurred less often. About 7 or 8 months ago, I dreamed that he died, and I haven’t had one since.My theory is that my subconscious was working while I was sleeping, trying to process the whole thing. After that last dream, it felt final. I wouldn’t mind dreaming about Jake, if they were pleasant dreams. I don’t feel his presence in my life either. There was only one brief moment, right after he died, where I felt him standing behind me out on the deck. Nothing since then. I still miss him every day and just writing this brings tears.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I think you’re right about your dreams, but oh, having him die again every night? That would have been more than I could bear.

      • Holly Bonville Says:

        He only died in that one dream. Every other dream, he was leaving me. Either for someone else, or he was angry with me, and each and every one was different. And yes, some mornings I woke up crying.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          In the dreams I had of him, I was usually looking for him. In one, I saw him checking the oil of his car, and I was confused and said, “I thought you were dead.” The worst one was one about five months after he died. I dreamed that he got well. While still dreaming, I could feel all the tension of grief draining from me. And for just a second when I woke, I felt good that he hadn’t died, and the truth hit me. It was as if he’d died all over again. About killed me.

  5. Carol Wuenschell Says:

    Thanks for the picture, Pat. He looks like really nice guy.
    I try not to make too much of dreams. I’m convinced mine have a large random element as far as the details are concerned. Yes, things like anxiety come through in my dreams, but they don’t do so through logical events or images. The negative aspects of your dream probably relate to all the negative aspects of losing him. The fact that he was there at all probably relates to the fact that he was important to you and that you miss him.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Jeff was really nice. He was kind to everyone.

      As for the dream, mine are almost always random firings of neurons. I’ve only had a couple of significant dreams in my life. As you say, this one was probably only a reflection of my missing him. Because I do. Always.

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