OK, I’m going to have to admit it – I was wrong; having read my last post you probably knew it straight away. If you haven’t read or can’t remember it you’d better read the paragraphs about my dream again or this post won’t make any sense! I have the fortune to retain the dream inside me as a permanent feature without recourse to notes – one reason I think God’s been talking to me this way for a while, so I can’t forget it! Anyway, I wasn’t having it this time, until one person came right out and said it – made me think again: “Your dreams give an insight to the inner you. I have never known a dream that cannot be interpreted. There is very obvious imagery in this one”
Yeah, yeah, I know that really, and if it was anyone else I would surely have had a go at it – but have you noticed how quick we often are to help others out but can’t see the same issues in ourselves? The truth was I just didn’t want to untangle that dream and the portents it carried because it simply hurt too much! However, take 2: OK… perhaps I had better have the humility to recognise that just because I couldn’t see the wood for the trees, it didn’t mean someone else’s objective vision wouldn’t be clear; I really should give that young ‘Joseph’ I mentioned a test run – no matter if I am old enough to be his mother. In fact, if this is a long-awaited season change, and I am carrying some painful baggage with me, it may prove to be really important at this juncture to take a look inside the “inner me”: I don’t want to carry extra weight into the next phase of my life.
Owch, but OK. So I asked him and, bless him, he came back with something that made sense. He handled what could have been difficult with grace and even pointed out all the comfort there was in my dream in the middle of the death and grief – the many old friends and Martin taking care of everything, giving me space to mourn. He didn’t presume on what had died, he simply said that ‘something’ had – something that was past its time and needed leaving in the ground – and it’s better to mourn now than later, out of time.
We all know that not mourning properly is detrimental in the long run – whether over a dead person, lost relationship or changed circumstances. Until you have grieved you can’t embrace any kind of healing or new beginning. As if to underline the point I picked up an old book yesterday afternoon, idly opening it at the story of a young man losing his mother and best friend within a few months of each other. I knew the tale but hadn’t read it quite the same way before: this devastated son described so well the isolating effects of grief and how it drains you, takes so long to walk through, hits you unexpectedly with tears.
I know I have been ‘coping’ for such a long time, processing yes, but also trying to get on with life, keep things as normal as we can while we live in the tension of the ‘now and not yet’ with our son. As Sam now at last seems to be in his own space in his own house perhaps this is the time for me to pay attention to myself – the worsening sleepless nights and the weight of sadness, the incremental exhaustion of trying to look after everybody else while carrying this heavy load, the physical and emotional pain I try to dull with pills and alcohol. If tears are coming out in the night hours they must just under the surface: I am not supposed to cope all the time and it is making me ill. Living with the threat of cancer is like a living mourning… of course I have buried grief that needs to be expressed!
But what the young dream-interpreter didn’t say I have to have the courage to confess – that actually, yes, just as in the dream, though there may be other things it symbolises, it really was my mum that died: you can even read the story that I wrote about Byllie on this page. Although I’ve worked through so much of the legacy of motherlessness on one level – no, it’s true I’ve never really let my emotions out. Wow, how can I say that 43 whole years later? It just seems looking back down the tunnel of time I was able to absorb, contain and hold the loss – keep going, carry on living – perhaps as children find it easier to do in some ways, I don’t know: ‘keep calm and carry on’. A whole new life started for me at age 12, being sent away to school and making friends who became closer than my family had ever been, but meanwhile perhaps, the lake was being carved out inside and has filled up over intervening years with many sadnesses and the loneliness of an orphaned child. My mother’s loss was, as the dream described, buried at a funeral I didn’t attend. The painful events of recent months with our son have simply added to the hidden lake, ‘the ocean of tears that you’ve held through the years’ as Delirious? put it in their song.
We all go through transitions as we move through the phases of our lives. As I quoted in a recent post, “Surely all of life is about learning to die?” And Henri Neuwen said it too, the gradual practise of stripping away as we lose things and people along the way until the final surrender when we exhale our spirit to heaven. Of course life is about much more than self-denial and acceptance – there are times to fight back, choose to rejoice, rise up again and live – but because of my experience, in which death has played a central role, I tend toward the negative. I’ve learned to live without, I suppose, to lower my expectations and manage without comfort, safety, joy, affection, affirmation: when resurrection does come, when birth comes out of life – that is the redemption moment and the icing on the cake, almost too good to be true! I have been truly saved by the knowledge of such love – my husband’s and my heavenly Father’s and yes, so many friends: it’s living in the good of it that’s the knack.
Meanwhile in my dream there was a wide, green, empty space for me to let my feelings out. I freewheeled down the hill – and God knows how I love my bike and the freedom that I feel when pedalling about in the sunshine – to a spacious garden under trees where I could fill the air with honesty. The honesty of weeping and wailing – ha!
So having now seen it, I’ll be looking for that kind of safe place in the coming days to empty out this lake, this burden of the heart, allow the sadness out… and then the healing can come in: well, don’t they say that tears bring healing and release? Because I think the dream is telling me this is the only way I’ll find new strength to carry on into the next part of this journey with gratitude and hope – to let the waters break and yield to the flood.