Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dreams Are a Gift from God

I'm a big dreamer. Not in the goal setting kind -- but in the night kind.

I mean, I have set goals before -- once or twice -- I don't want you to think I'm a total loser.

My friends and family are always in awe of my not only remembering the dreams but being able to recall the details ---- my students especially loving it when they appeared or when I shared the most bizarre ones with them.

When I taught school, I had the most vivid dreams about teaching. Some of them were downright frightening as I would dream of showing up in my pajamas, naked, or perhaps late or unable to find my classroom... or my students would pop in and out of them doing things that I don't associate with them --- sitting in my kitchen, riding in a car with me, or one time performing as one of the Supremes.

One time I dreamed that Nick Nolte had a box cutter and was helping me pack up my classroom. (see blog from last year)

No kidding.

I also dreamed of standing in front of a classroom full of unruly students, not only misbehaving or out of control, but one time, I dreamed they were smoking cigarettes. I was in a tizzy as I ran around the room not only grabbing the cigarettes from their hands as they laughed in my face, but for some reason, opening the windows.

Well, it sort of make sense -- but it seemed the least of the problems, don't ya think?

I also had those where I couldn't present the lesson that I had prepared because it was the wrong one or I was teaching math or science.

*runs and hides*

Math. Eek. That just gives me the shivers.

I once had a dream where my classroom was in a store front, folks casually passing by and noting my superior teaching style at the time, only for one student to suddenly exclaim as he looked out the store doors, "Look, it's the end of the world" to which my team teacher at the time, Wingate, quipped, "Quick, let's make sandwiches."

You cant' make this kind of stuff up. Just sayin'.

Most teachers will tell you of the sleepless nights before the first day of school and dreaming about every possible awful thing that could go wrong.

I still dream about the classroom -- and I'm retired! Rarely are the classroom dreams one of success. LOL

My dad had an incredible memory, and he once told me that he felt like the brain was a video camera that recorded everything he experienced and then stored the memories in a type of filing cabinet.... where as he aged became more packed and packed with files -- all crammed in that cabinet in no particular order.

He said that as the file cabinet grew, the files became thicker and thicker and harder and harder from which to retrieve information or memory. Thus, why when he was in his later years, he had a little more difficulty accessing people's names, places, or books he'd read. His retrieval problems based on the number of files that had to be gone through to find the correct one.

I have always loved that analogy and have shared it often with others who complain about how they can't remember anything any more.

I believe that since my brain is such a cabinet that when I dream, the brain picks random files and juxtaposes them in all kinds of ways and creates my dreams.

It's just a theory -- but don't you think it's a good one?

Thus why, a childhood friend I haven't thought about in years will appear in my dream or perhaps I'll be in a house that sort of looks like the one I grew up in except that it will have an extra room or a set of stairs that didn't exist.

The best dreams are the ones in which I am still young -- I love those. I love the weight class I was in....


What I do love about dreams is that in them, I occasionally get the blessing of seeing and hearing my parents, who both died in 1995. What a pleasure it is, though bittersweet, to be able to see them like that -- that has to be a gift from God.

When I taught at Harrison High School , a fellow English teacher friend of mine lost her mother to cancer. Both of my parents had died the year before.

As I was around the same age as her mother, who was in her mid-forties, her untimely death seemed especially cruel as my colleague was newly married and expecting her first child ---- and her grandmother and great-grandmother still alive... longevity in the women in that family seemed guaranteed.

At the visitation for my friend's mother, she pulled me aside and kind of pleaded with me about this:

"Harriett, you are a vivid dreamer -- promise me that I will see my mother in my dreams."

I told her that not only did I see my parents (who had died the year before) in my dreams but that I got to hear their voices. I said, "It is a blessing from God. I hope it is one you receive."

She nodded and seemed comforted for the moment.

As fellow English teachers, we reminisced about Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, who wished his dead love Catherine to "haunt" him in his dreams. As nutso as the character of Heathcliff was, we could understand his longing for that haunting.

My parents do not haunt me in my dreams, but I do love it when they show up.

The last two nights I have dreamed of them.

Last night, I dreamed of my childhood church and my baptism. My parents beamed at me from the congregation, Mother in a big hat that obscured her face, Daddy in his signature suit proudly beside her, and when I saw them, I felt this pride that they belonged to me.

As I walked down the aisle toward them, the light from the stained glass windows blinded me, and I fretted as I searched for them. The aisle seemed long, and I felt old -- and wondered as I walked toward them if they would recognize me. I heard my mother say, "Here we are. We're proud of you" her voice so soft and soothing in that assurance.

I felt her arms around me, hugging me to her -- even though I never quite saw her face. I knew it was she, but I also knew she was really dead but thankfully how she didn't know and how it didn't matter because here she was!

As she hugged me, the dream changed directions. I tried to will it back but failed.

The night before that I dreamed of a college class that I needed to pass to graduate. As I sat for the final exam, I realized that I knew none of the material, did not have the proper exam booklet, and I couldn't find a pen anywhere. As the huge clock in the front of the classroom clicked the hour away allotted for the exam, I searched frantically and futilely for that pen in my purse, my coat pocket, and around the floor.

Everyone around me finished the exam and left and looked back at me as they exited the room including a former student who smugly smiled seeming to enjoy my discomfort.

LOL -- I guess, that's a type of payback. (I won't repeat my former student's name {BLAKE} in case he's reading my blog.)

I not only didn't pass the class, but I didn't take the exam. As the dream continued, I crossed the familiar courtyard of my college and felt sick and dejected. When I got to the my dorm room, my parents were there -- along with my roommate who was packing her collection of Pez containers -- LOL --- and they greeted me with open arms and told me that "everything was gonna be okay. They loved me so."

I had this wonderful feeling of such peace in their presence.

Don't you think that is a gift from God?

I don't always remember my dreams. Some of them are not worth remembering -- some of them are. But, the dreams about my parents are the ones I cherish, the ones I like to think about... the ones I get up in the night to jot notes on -- because I do feel blessed to see them -- even in my dreams.


  1. I love knowing that dreams always, always mean something. It's cool.

  2. What a blessing to see your parents in your dreams! Oh, how I wish I would experience that at least once! I'm guessing that you will have a dream where you meet my parents before I ever see them in a dream.

  3. It was several years before Luke was in one of my dreams. I would dream about him, but he would not be in the dream. And I don't think I have seen his face in a dream. But it would be so sweet....

  4. I read this entry before going to bed last night, and I experienced the most vivid dream I've ever had. Thank you for sharing this. You are such a beautiful woman.

  5. I recognize several of those faces. The halls of the mountain seem paradoxically vacant without them - yours included.

  6. I knew my sardonic grins got to you back in the day Gillham. High school students can smell fear. :)

    I'm a big fan of the dreams. After taking Wingate for psychology in 9th grade I've kept a dream long of my more interesting dreams. It's fun to go back and look at all of them. I often forget them completely until I'm a paragraph in, and then the dream floods back into my mind, and I can recall everything just like a memory of a real life event. It's bizarre.

    It must be wonderful to have such dreams of parents. My dreams often consist of zombies, ex-lovers, and moral dilemmas. Fun times.

  7. Hello, Harriett! I finally relocated my Google Reader and I have a lot of catching up to do! How awesome that the first blog I read had a pic of my Anna. :)
    Most of my dreams, that I'm lucky enough to remember, are simply odd and I can usually relate them back to something that has recently happened or something in the near future. However, perhaps the best dream I ever had was when Anna was an itty-bitty infant and my maternal aunts and grandmother, who had passed away a decade earlier, came to my dream and met my baby girl. It is still so vivid 18 years later. Thanks for bringing that back to me today. I'm looking forward to catching up on your entries.
    Dana Willis