Last week, I had a terrible nightmare. I dreamt that I was driving a car with my younger brother in the back seat. We were on the highway and everyone — including me — was going really fast. For whatever reason, this highway also had traffic going perpendicular with the flow. So if you can imagine cars going up and down, they were also going left and right.
All of a sudden, a car from the right side crashes into us, instantly killing my brother, who was sitting on the right side of the back seat. I lived, while he died. I was completely devastated and incredibly sad.
Later that night, I had to break the news to my parents. We were getting ready to sit down for dinner, and I grabbed our three bowls of food and handed one for each. As I sat down, I hesitantly said, “I have to tell you something …” My mom stood straight up from her seat and started screaming, “No, don’t say it, don’t say it!” It was as if she already knew what had become of her only son. My dad was in silence, in complete shock.
I started sobbing uncontrollably and our wails grew and grew. I thought how sad it was that I’ll never get to see my brother ever again, to see his grin, to be with his casual, laid back self.
I woke up in a terrific tremor and was so utterly thankful when I realized it was all just a dream.
Later that same day, I recounted this dream to my partner and a couple of close friends of mine. One reassured me that it was just a dream and it’s not real, so I have nothing to worry about. Another asked if I heard of the theory that when someone dies in our dreams, that these people, whoever they are, all, in fact, represent us. Like a part of us is dying, such as an ending of an endeavor or chapter in life with a new beginning after this death.
That made sense to me.
There is a great shift occurring now and in the months to follow. Endings and beginnings, of all kinds. It’s exciting, but also a lot to process.
Another asked if I was watching anything the night before I had this nightmare. I said, “Well, yes, actually. I was watching a documentary called The Woman Who Wasn’t There about a woman who lied about being a 9/11 survivor.” There were images of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers, people wailing, as well as survivors admitting how guilty they felt of being alive while everyone else around them had perished.
“What you watch, you embody and bring into your psyche,” she reminded me. “So it’s not a surprise that you weaved those feelings you felt while watching that documentary into a dream that included those closest to you.”
That made sense to me.
The car which crashed into us was the plane and we, the tower. I was the survivor, with immense guilt that I lived while my brother died. Wails from my mom and I were the wails from people and sirens. Silence and shock from my dad were the silence and shock of the world when we learned of what had happened.
This dream is one of a few that I have had in my adult life of either me or someone very close to me dying. Once or twice, I dreamt my mom died and I couldn’t save her no matter how hard I tried. Another time I died and I knew I was going to right before I did. Now, I dreamt my brother has died.
And you know what? It never feels any easier. I wake up from it, shaken to the core, and as I go about my day, I may forget about it completely. But years later, I still recall these dreams vividly, as if they had actually happened.
These dreams remind me of the little things in life, which are actually the big things, the things that mean the most. Like calling my parents and telling them I love and appreciate them. Texting my brother and saying, “Hey lil bro. I love you. I’ll always be your big sister and you can always come to me for anything.” His teenage self may not understand it now but I hope one day he will.
Tell the people you care about that you love them. Maybe you haven’t talked to them in a while and there’s the lament, “But it’s been too long and wouldn’t it be awkward?” No. No, it won’t be. Because you love them and that’s the truth. It is never too late to say what you mean. Never too late, until one day, it is.