My children as of this writing are 20, 16, and 14 years old. All have reached puberty and have moved through the resulting bodily changes. What a ride that has been.
When my oldest turned 16, I started having more dreams of him as a baby or a little boy. I would often wake up on those mornings whimpering or sobbing, my heart heavy with a feeling I have since termed “the almost unbearable ache.”
I have become more familiar with that ache over the last few years, working my dreams with Natural Dreamwork, and diving deeper into “the feeling space” in both my dreams and in waking life; a space in which I am willingly allowing myself to feel deeply, even when the resulting emotions are difficult to bear.
As a result, sometimes I wake up from dreams these days missing a person or a place that’s gone, either to death or to time. And there it is, the almost unbearable ache.
The best way I can describe the feeling with words at this time is that it’s a bodily reaction, centered in my chest, to a knowledge that extends beyond my present knowledge of a pain that I recognize as deep, permanent loss. Along with this feeling is a kind of desperate grasping or judgement of myself, and typically a kind of question which can sometimes sound like, “why didn’t I appreciate that more?” Or, “why did I leave?” Or, even a resigned statement like, “I had no idea it would go that fast.”
I am someone who has always been sensitive to time, and especially in the years since I have had children, I’ve tried my best to be as cognizant and as present to them and our life together as one possibly can be. Still, I wake up sometimes with the almost unbearable ache, wishing for more time, wishing I had known better.
I believe this way of being with and in time is human nature. And, I also believe it’s mutable.
Now my middle child is 16, and I am starting to have dreams where I meet him as a baby or as a little boy.
Last night in a dream, I was in a house I needed to clean in advance of a move. I noticed old toys my kids used to play with and decided at the last minute I wanted to pack a few just to remember.
There was some indecision around this and discussion with my ex-husband in the dream about whether or not we should. (This took place in the basement.) After, I walked upstairs to the first floor where the toys were and found my teenage son holding one of his old play phones, grinning, his face all lit up in a way I recognized from his childhood. He spoke to me then in his little boy voice.
“Hello,” he said, all silly. I felt a smile stretch across my face in the dream. When I woke up soon after, I didn’t sob, though my heart was full and certainly aching with a bit of longing and loss. Rather than judge myself in that moment, I noticed an urge to share the story of the dream meet-up with my son in waking life; to tell him how happy it made me to interact with little Him in my dream.
Oh, how his little boy voice melted my heart. Oh, how it stopped me in my tracks, eliminating all my ruminations and worry in the dream.
In the days since that dream, rather than ache, I’ve felt myself immersed in an on-going deep love for my children; not in a way that has me longing for their childhood, and wishing for it back. But in a way that has me recognize them as the loves of my life, both then and now. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this love with them.
Of course, this is not always the case, especially with loved ones lost not to time, but to death or discord. We aren’t always in a position to engage in waking life with our loved ones following a moving dream. However, I believe dreamwork is not so compartmentalized as to limit its healing capacity. I believe the healing experienced in such dreams as the one above can spill over to all loss, all regret, all self-judgment, and all grief.
I am not pronouncing myself immune to loss or regret as a result of dreams. However, I am noticing that in the years since I have been working my dreams with Natural Dreamwork, as well as through my independent research on the perception of time and the afterlife, I meet these types of dreams with a little less sadness and a little more for the opportunities they afford me.
In these dreams, I get to share an intimate encounter with the boy who no longer shares my present time or space, but still inhabits it. I can see, in waking life, how he lives on in his Now self. I can feel how he lives on, literally, in me as evidenced by my feeling for him in dreams.
We can cultivate such moments, invite them into our lives in dreams. And through them we can experience reunion.