My dream told me to write about this.

Image Credit: The Pillars of Creation, 1995 Hubble Photo via National Geographic 

My dreams are often startling in their ability to predict, reflect and inform me of my next steps, blind spots and vivid aspirations in waking life. 

Before I was laid off from Lyft and given the “I want space card” from a now ex, I had an eery dream where I was in a small, enclosed courtyard of sorts — similar to a tiny, NYC brownstone backyard. There stood my three, recién fallecida, female elders. Crones in their own right (my grandmother would curse me if her living self-heard me utter those words). There they stood, silent and powerfully expressionless .

It was dark and everything was painted in grey tones as if it were black and white but still with color. Resting in my hands was a black burlap sack of sorts. It was known to me in the dream to put the bag over my head and that when I did, I would die. Not a physical death but a massive spiritual one. 

I didn’t want to. I was alive and they were so silent. In waking life, they’d been dead for only a few months, but they stood there, ominously, waiting until I finally put the burlap sack on and committed to what would be a massive death of identity or as some call it, gathering bones.

We die and are reborn countless times in our lives. 

But this rebirth was more notable, both in my resistance to it and in the way it ushered in my feminine adulthood. 

It was only a few months after that dream that everything went to shit, again and that I’d find myself on a plane, back to NY, heart in hands, black burlap sack in its rightful place — over my head and willingly suffocating the remains of a life now gone, one of which was unsuited for the likes of me anyways.

Sometimes dreams push you into other realms. Death is like toothpaste being squeezed from the tube. You leave one container to enter another. The moment you pass through the opening is what we call death. But to toothpaste, it’s just making it’s way out of the tube, which is really transportation, so it can be delivered to it’s rightful place: your mouth. 

We are no different. 

What about that dream I had freshman year in college? 

I’d become good friends with my cousin’s best friend, Tom. I was 18 and he was 24'ish. A Georgia-boy marine who’d fought in Iraq, probably drank too much, laughed with the entirety of his smile, and cared a whole lot about everything. 

It was a Friday. My first night on campus and I was in Monique’s room as she was flat ironing my hair. You know… doing girl shit. 

I remember looking at the clock and thinking that I should call Tom. You see, Tom had developed a crush on me, so much so that he wanted to take me to my cousin’s wedding as his date and even invited me to his house in the Carolinas via a postcard. He was a romantic and if I were really honest with myself, I’d confess that I liked him too. 

But he was 24 and I was 18. He was my cousin’s friend and a marine and he drank and lived far away. Hair now straightened, I retired to bed to be met with a profound dream, one I would remember over a decade later. 

I was in a blank room with no walls. I’m not even sure if there was a floor. Diagonally and to the left of me stood a line of people I’d gone to high school with — all of which had died tragically, mostly from car accidents. 

There in front of the group was a friend named Dan Otremba (Dan had died in a car accident by my house freshman year of high school). It was obvious to me that they were welcoming someone and that I was different from them, separate even. I couldn’t see who they were welcoming though. Their back was to me. 

I woke up from the dream feeling uneasy. I glanced at the clock. It was late. I fell back asleep only to awake again later that night. I squinted at the alarm clock from across the room before I rolled over, destined to wake up one more time that night. 

Saturday morning came. While sitting at Subway in The Commons, barely one day into college, my flip phone rang. It was my cousin, Sarah. She wanted to let me know that something terrible had happened. 

Tom had been in a car accident last night.

It was a hit and run. 

He nor his friend survived. 

I was numb. 

I’m so sorry, she mumbled through tears. 

He was hit by the car while I was getting my hair straightened.

He died shortly before I awoke from my first dream. His friend died around the second time I restlessly glanced at the clock. 

Death was as much a reason for a communal gathering as it was something people forebode.

Death became a catalyst for coming together. A thing spoke of not in hushed tones — unless it was due to addiction — but as commonplace. 

Death and dreams have seemed to share the same space throughout my life. Where I was from, it seemed normal to have witnessed so many people die at a young age. I feel a strong connection to those who have moved on and I’ve sensed and known both Dan’s and Tom’s presence for years afterwards. Guardian angels of sorts.

It makes me wonder what lay in the way of death and dreaming. 

Are they not inextricable parts of the same mystical puzzle?

Are they not in fact two sides of the same coin?

My dreams tell of death, of shifting winds, of growing tides, of things unseen. 

Some are hard to translate and others still, hard to forget. 

We are all equipped with the capacity to dream as much as we are equipped with the ability to die. Death and dreams are not separate entities. 

Do we not run from both?

Do not both give us the chills, send us in to states of panic, even?

Do they not require one another to survive?

Dreams, for a long time, symbolized death for me. Dreams meant things would change, people would leave, and I would be left alone. 

As I come to terms with dreaming, equally so do I come to terms with death. The grim reaper may very well be a guardian angel misunderstood. 

What do you dream of at night and in your waking life? 

What do your dreams tell you?

 

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