DREAMS THAT COMFORT AND HEAL
by Valerie McCarney
Comfort and kindness is something we all want and especially if we are not well. As we pull up the covers at night to go to sleep, we enter into a place that has the ability to comfort us, our dreams.
My mother had not remembered my birthday in a couple of years. She had a stroke that left her debilitated and fearful. At 5 a.m on my birthday I was awakened from a dream. It was my mother calling to be the first one to wish me a happy birthday. I was in the middle of a dream, where I was with her and other family members at a beach house they owned years ago. It was a place of carefree happiness. When I told her , she was quiet. Then said they were all in my dream last night, too. We were all together at the beach house! I had been looking for a way to help her with her fear and this was it! I brought some pictures and shells to her room. We would talk about the fun times. She loved to swim . So we would talk about the waves, riding them into shore, the sound of thunder as the waves came in, the taste of the salty sea water, the sea gulls crying, building sand castles, the feel of the moist wet sand on your hands and feet, the warmth of the sun as you lie on a sandy beach blanket, the smell of Coppertone, the taste of a cold beer on a hot day, the sandwiches that always had a crispy piece of sand in them. I tried to make the images touch all her senses. For every memory I would bring up she would bring up five more. We found our way together through mutual dreams. Our imagination let us move beyond this situation to a place where we could view all of life through a creative lens. It was a great comfort to her in the last months of her life.
My father was a writer and a musician. His creativity and imagination was evident till the end.His mind was full of stories that would come out in his sleep talk and dreams. I was there with pen and paper to capture as much as I could. Towards the end, he began to dream of an aboriginal man. He would also see him in waking life. He would tell me about him and then hold up his hand and point between the fingers and name all the deceased people in our family. Through my own research I found that certain aboriginal shamans would prepare someone for death by “ flying up to the hand of the milky way where the ancestors lived between the fingers.” Each experience I had showed me over and over the value of the dream world.
One of his last days in Hospice, he awoke with a dream. He looked at me and said, “Oh, you are here. We were just together on your front porch. It was freezing cold and everything was icy and blue. It was beautiful. Could you paint it for me?” I said yes and told him I needed to get my paints but I drew a sketch and had him ok it, is this what it looked like, he answered, yes. When I came back in the morning he was in a coma and died the next day, on February 4th , a freezing cold icy blue day. I could not paint it for a while but I know he saw it when I did. I have enclosed a copy of the painting.
I have shared this and many stories with people who may need to care for a loved one. I wanted to show them the importance of paying attention to dreams.
One friend , a Fireman, who was as big as a football linebacker, was kind. He listened to my stories but this was not his belief system. Several months ago at a get together, he sees me and rushes over. He says, “ I have to tell you something. I had a dream that saved my life”. Needless to say I was very interested. He said, “ I came home one night after several drinks and fell into a deep sleep. In my dream, my deceased grandfather was pulling at me and saying wake up , wake up, get up get up!!” I roused just enough to feel the warmth of blood in my bed. ”
A vein had burst in his leg. If he had slept any longer he would have just gone to sleep permanently. He was able to call a friend and 911, he lived alone. He was in ICU for a few days and after some procedures came home and is fine. He said, “ My grandfather knew this was not my time.” Next time I saw him I gave him a dream journal as a gift and I think he will use it!!
Dreams are not only gifts and a way to learn our deeper selves but as my friend “Bull” found out, they can even save your life !
Art: “Ice cold blue day” (c) Valerie McCarney