Monday, February 6, 2012

Dreams In The Night

One night as I was sleeping, my heart awakened in a dream. I heard the voice of my beloved; he was knocking at my bedroom door. "Open to me, my darling, my lover, my lovely dove," he said, "for I have been out in the night and am covered with dew."

"But," I said, "I have disrobed. Shall I get dressed again? I have washed my feet, and should I get them soiled?"

My beloved tried to unlatch the door and my heart was moved for him. I jumped up to open it and my hands dripped with perfume, my fingers with lovely myrrh as I pulled back the bolt. I opened to my beloved, but he was gone. My heart stopped. I searched for him but couldn't find him anywhere. I called to him, but there was no reply. The guards found me and struck and wounded me. The watchman on the wall tore off my veil.

I adjure you, O women of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, tell him that I am sick with love.   Song of Solomon 5:2-8, The Living Bible

I woke up crying. Tears ran down my cheeks and into my ears, wetting my hair tendrils along the way. My heart was broken and while I knew the whole scenario had been but a dream, the emotions within me were stirred to the point of  devastation. While I'd been asleep, my heart had been searching for Jim for I thought I'd seen him. But then he disappeared, and I followed, looking into every crack and crevice. I searched frantically through the night, hurrying here and there for yet another glimpse of him. But he was gone. My own sobs brought me into reality.

The dream had been so real that even when I was fully awake, it was some time before I stopped crying and more time still before I was able to calm myself.  The Song of Solomon came to mind and while it's not been a book I've studied or even spent much time reading, I knew my dream somewhat mirrored the Shulamite woman's story and nothing would do but to get up and read it for myself.

That was the last dream I had concerning Jim. But there had been dozens before. Most had been horrifying: watching Jim die again and again; Jim, back from the dead, covered with dirt and filth, walking like a zombie; Jim, hampered by Parkinson's, fighting me for the car keys because he had decided he was able to drive.

One night I woke myself up with screams.

Only two of the nightly dreams had been good ones: Jim, dressed in a suit, rescuing me from an unknown attacker, suddenly showing up and fighting the bad guy off, then holding me tight, making sure I was alright, then disappearing from sight. Jim, sitting on the edge of a couch, smiling at me as I entered Heaven, looking up with that shy grin of his and saying, "I've been waiting for you."

Since ever I can remember I've had vivid dreams. Always in full color. And with few exceptions, always remembered upon waking. But now, after so many weeks of terrible dreams, my body changed its schedule. I don't remember when or how it happened. I don't even know if it was subconscious. I just quit sleeping.

I might doze a bit in the recliner during the day, but for the most part, nights were spent knitting or reading or watching old movies. After a while, I was beyond exhausted. But to sleep meant giving entrance to those horrid dreams and emotionally, I could no longer handle them. Dozing during the day brought no dreams. I thought that was odd, but it was a fact.

By the time six weeks had gone by, I was beyond sleep deprived, beyond being able to concentrate for long periods of time. I found bills I'd forgotten to pay, just like right after Jim passed away. I discovered errors in the checkbook. I found business mail that should have been answered but had been forgotten. 

During my Bible reading one morning, I came across Proverbs 3:24. "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet."

I put my finger on the verse and said to the Lord, "Do you see this verse, God? I need this kind of sleep. I know you always keep your promises to your children. Please take the frightening dreams away and let my sleep be sweet. And if I can't have good dreams, then let me have no dreams at all."

I went about my day. In truth, I'd forgotten about that prayer. Until bedtime. I was spent to the bone so I took my bath, brushed my teeth, and crawled under the covers. It was then I remembered what I had requested of the Lord. "Please, God," I said, "allow me sweet sleep. I pray you send your Holy Spirit through all the rooms of my house and clean out all depression of losing Jim, all fear of bad dreams, everything that resides here that isn't of You."

I laid down and slept. I didn't wake up until 2:00 the next afternoon. I'd had no dreams of any kind. Nor any since then. I am more than grateful to the Lord for many things, but especially for the absence of  the horrific nightmares. Looking back, I wonder why I didn't ask sooner-- because sweet sleep is affording healing to my grieving heart. I know that for a fact, for I have started laughing again.


I know the Song of Solomon is a picture of married love and more deeply, a picture of Christ's love for His church. But because of the dream I'd had being so like that of the Shulamite woman, I took the scripture at face value, and in doing so, I gained an understanding of how broken-hearted she was at not being able to find her beloved. 

These past holidays were harder than I had expected them to be. It was then that the dreams began. Not being a psychiatrist, I can't explain why they settled in as they did nor why they grew from bad to worse. My guess is that the second Thanksgiving and Christmas without Jim was harder than I'd expected it to be, for I thought I was doing better than I was. Being a widow is so hard I find myself wondering how those who do not have the Lord to hang onto make it through.