I had the weirdest dream recently.
I was in a public place (a department store?) and I collapsed and went into what I can only describe as convulsions. I was lucid, but my body wouldn't obey me and my limbs were twitching uncontrollably. I was screaming for help, for someone to call 911, but crowds of people just stepped around me and went about their day.
Finally someone called 911 and the paramedics arrived. They strapped me onto a stretcher and put me in restraints like you see on tv because my arms and legs continued to thrash uncontrollably. I was crying, hysterical.
And then the scene changed, and my best friend Cathy was stroking my hair, telling me to relax, calm down, and everything would be OK.
And then the scene would change again, and the dream would essentially repeat itself, again and again, just in a different locale. Every time, though, Cathy was there, whispering in my ear, reassuring me.
Eventually, Scott woke me in the middle of the night, stroking my arm and asking if everything was all right. Apparently, I was moaning and talking unintelligibly in my sleep, clearly distressed.
The interpretation is probably pretty obvious. I'm clearly stressed out about my illness, about the way my body is out of my control and has taken my life out of my control. But the part that isn't so obvious unless you know the back story is that my friend Cathy died in June 2005 at the age of 37.
Since then, from time to time, Cathy pops up in my dreams. Usually, we both know that she's dead, but we talk around it except for saying how much we miss each other. Sometimes I get a chance to tell her something new that's happened in my life. I sort of think of her as my guardian angel, watching out for me up there.
I'm not normally New Age-y enough to believe in angels or even in any sort of consciousness after death. But Cathy is special, and the only way I could bear it after she died was to believe that somehow, somewhere, she still existed and could still be a part of my life.
The last time I saw Cathy was about a month before she died. It was the first (and only) time she got to meet Ellie. The photo of her holding Ellie is precious to me and I keep it as the wallpaper on my computer. Ellie, who has no memory of Cathy (she was only 5 months old when they met!), recognizes "Auntie Cathy" in photos dating back to our college days and knows that her Classic Pooh plushies and a beautiful Pooh cross-stitch were a gift to her from Auntie Cathy.
Cathy gave me a wonderful gift after that too-brief visit. When we got home from Chicago, I found a chatty voicemail message from Cathy saying how much she enjoyed seeing us and meeting Ellie, how beautiful Ellie was. And then she went on to say how much our almost 20-year friendship meant to her and that she loved me and my family. It was just one of those things that makes your heart smile. I saved the message for a couple weeks before accidentally deleting it a week or so before her death. I didn't know it was the last voicemail I'd get from Cathy, or I'd have saved it forever -- the way I still can't bear to delete her from my cell phone directory or my email addressbook.
I miss my Cathy, as Scott and I have called her since early in our relationship. I wish she were alive, but if she has to be dead, I'm so grateful that she continues to visit me in my dreams. And I know she's doing her best to look out for me and my family and to help us get through this challenging time.
7 months ago