The nightmare is always the same, basically.
I'm out somewhere in public. It is cold and windy. I have my manuscript, a book I've written in some sort of unreliable satchel. It is rainy too most of the time and darkish. Not full on night dark, but evening-ish.
I somehow lose the manuscript. I either drop it or it somehow ends up flying out of a car window. Something like that. In the nightmare last night, I was standing and waiting for a subway in New York or some large city. I could hear the rain pounding above me on a tin roof. I was wearing a scarf around my head, tied under my chin like my mother used to make me wear to school on windy days. The scarf was coming loose and I reached up to tidy it and suddenly there went the manuscript....right into some sort of duck pond.
Right. In the subway. Hey. It's my dream. I'll murk it up if I need to.
At any rate, I realized too late that the manuscript was in the water and I was distraught. God. All the work. I wring my hands.
And then the nightmare becomes truly ghoulish.
Because in my nightmare, I realized that it wasn't a manuscript that fell into the water. It was my baby. Liv. An infant. I run...absolutely terrified out of my fucking mind...back to the water. I was screaming and trying to get to her. I could see a sort of whitish blob under the water, a faint outline of what? A doll? A face? Couldn't make it out, but I knew that it is Liv. I had somehow let her fall into the water.
It is the same every time I have this nightmare. I try to get to her but there is always a handicap. I am tied to a pole and can't get loose. My shoes seem to be filled with lead. I don't have any hands...just these gross bloody stumps.
And then, I saw her plainly. She was laying face up at the bottom of the pond and she was screaming, crying for me. I kept trying to get to her and somehow couldn't.
I felt someone holding me back, telling me that it is too late. She is dead. I realize that the voice is right. Liv is floating face down in the water.
And then I have the oddest thought but I have it in each and every nightmare.
I think to myself: MY GOD! YOU LET HER DIE AGAIN. WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS?
It is as if in my dream I realize that I have had this dream many, many times and the outcome is always the same. I always am incompetent or not paying attention and Liv dies because of my ineptitude. I always think it is a manuscript or a book of important papers or something like that and it ALWAYS turns out to be Liv. And yes, each and every time, she dies.
In my dream, I felt my Da's hands patting me. Telling me that if I will just wake up, he will give me a hug and it will be okay. I turned around to tell him that he can't really help me, he is dead. He seemed pretty cool with this, nodding sadly and disappearing into the duck pond, next to Liv. The two people whom I probably love most in the world, side by side. Dead.
I woke up flailing, muscles aching in my legs from clenching them. My hands balled into fists and me crying. Silently crying. I don't think I cried out. The times that I have had this nightmare with Bing in the bed with me, she has never once woken up so I think I must be silently enduring it.
Bing was not in bed with me at 2 a.m. when I had the latest edition of nightmare on Chicago street. I have been waking up with leg cramps for the last few days and my rheumatoid arthritis has been attacking my knee in the middle of the night. Even if Bing slightly bumps me, it hurts like hell...so she has been sleeping in the guest room until it quiets down.
Eventually, I awakened enough to realize that I was having my old nightmare. I have 3 basic nightmares, with variations.
1) The lost manuscript that turns into Liv dying nightmare.
2) The nightmare where I realize that I have not even graduated from high school and I am going to be outed as a high school drop out at work. I am also being stalked in the workplace by some unseen person who wants to kill me.
3) The common nightmare that most people have: I am naked in a public place. I often dream about celebrities in these dreams. My last dream involved singing a duet with Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox on American Idol and I was naked and they were trying not to laugh at me and not really succeeding since they ended up trying to take my photo on their i phone.
The losing Liv nightmare is hands down the worst. I always wake up shaking and terrified. Always end up feeling like maybe the dreams are right. Maybe I suck at parenting. Maybe she would have been better off with anyone but me.
Last night was no exception. I lay in bed until the need to pee coaxed me up. I didn't want to be alone in my bed but didn't really want the arms of my lover. Instead, I tiptoed quietly into Liv's bedroom and sat down in the rocker beside her bed, just watching her sleep. She woke up as she sometimes does. I moved to the side of her bed, ran my fingers through her hair, leaned down to kiss her cheek.
"It's okay, sugarfoot. Back to sleep," I said.
Liv sleepily asked me if I want to get in with her for awhile, to warm my toes.
"Don't mind if I do," I said and got in with her. She is getting over a ten day cold but her fever has finally gone away for good. She was warm but not hot. I settled in and cuddled her close to me, silently asking for her forgiveness for dreaming that I neglected her.
Liv cuddled up close, my turtle dove.
"Would you like a story?" she asked kindly. She is a tender, watchful child. She knows that sometimes I just need to hold her, smell her, be with her.
No, I told her. No story. Maybe you could hum a song with me?
We hummed to a Beatles song: Strawberry Fields and then segue over into I Want To Hold Your Hand. Halfway through she fell back to sleep and I laid there for several moments, timing my breath to hers, holding her close and warm. And safe.
When she began to snore lightly (nose still stuffed up), I slid out of her bed and went back to my own. The sheets felt as if they belonged to me again, the bed felt warm and cozy and not like a screening room for a nightmare on Chicago street.
I fell back asleep after I made the decision not to analyze the dream too deeply. It wasn't hard to decipher.
There is this woman who never thought she would be anyone's mother who now is someone's mother and she feels like she is out of her comfort zone. So, she dreams about losing something that matters to her..a manuscript and eventually the dream allows her to see what her real fear is: not being a good mother, a good enough mother. The sort of mother who allows her child to drown in a duck pond in the subway system of New York City. And it scares her more than a clown ringing her doorbell at 3 a.m. (Thank you, George Carlin.)
I went to work this morning with my ear buds in and my music turned on loud to Six Inch Nails screaming that
You let me violate you
You let me desecrate you
You let me penetrate you
You let me complicate you...
After a nightmare night, I just can't endure anything soft. I want something gritty and chewy. A song that makes me cringe just a little bit.
My first call at work was from my bff, Harriet. It has stopped freaking me out that she always knows exactly when I need to hear her voice.
"Hey, you," she said, congenially. "I felt my twin pull last night. Are you okay?"
Twin pull. This is a Harriet term. She told me long ago that she felt like we were twin souls. She swears that she can feel it when I am having a bad day.
"Like twin telepathy," she tells me.
It has happened too many times for me to snort when she says that. And vice versa. I will often feel a need to call her and have no idea why but if I do, well, something has usually happened that is troubling her or she is just in need of someone to listen to bitch about why she can't stand to watch her husband trim his nose hair.
I told her that I had the dead baby Liv nightmare. She knows the specifics.
"Oh, Penelope," she said.
She calls me Penelope sometimes. I call her Francine. We have no idea why we do this but just do.
We talked about the past week. I told her how Liv had told me that she didn't want to trick or treat this year, felt that being in sixth grade was too old.
"Well.....there you go," she said, wisely. "Aw, honey. You have to let her grow up," she said this in a not unkind voice but the voice that I have grown to love. She tells it straight and doesn't sugar coat.
"You know what I think you should do?" she said.
"Eat a pack of oreos?" I suggested.
"I think you should tell yourself that you are going to have a hot dream about....let's see...who makes you wet?" she asks.
I stop and think. I am drawing a blank. This IS bad.
I finally say Laura Linney. Carey Mulligan. Johnny Depp. You know, the ones who are attainable.
"Okay. Tonight tell yourself that the next time you are drifting into that nightmare that Carey Mulligan or Johnny Depp or Jon Bon Jovi...whoops...sorry that's MY fantasy...will come stand beside you and make sure that Liv doesn't drown. And then drop Liv off at my house and I will babysit and you two can go off and fuck yourselves silly to that Nine Inch Nails song that I bet you played on the way to work today..."
It is such a luxury to have a best friend who is also your twin and thus can read your mind.
"I love you," I told her.
"I love you back," she said. "Now, I really need to go change a stinky diaper..."
So, now it is time for bed. And I am all ready to go say my mantra.
But here's my question for you.
What do you have recurring nightmares about?
Care to share? Might be kind of illuminating for all of us, yes?