I had a dream you died.
It was the kind of dream you can’t escape from. You know you’re dreaming, but you can’t wake up no matter how hard you try. The kind of dream you have when your brain can’t stop working even when you’re fast asleep.
I woke up at 3:30 sobbing. My pillows weren’t wet, but my whole body felt sore, devastated at the loss I’d just suffered in my sleep. I felt exhausted by my grief, and even though I knew it wasn’t real, I couldn’t go back to sleep.
When I was little, I had nightmares often. I’d get up and tiptoe into my parents’ room and my mom would let me get into their bed, whispering to me to think happy thoughts and I’d have good dreams. It never really worked. I’ve always been a bad sleeper. In college, I liked the steady presence of a boy in bed beside me and I had a few to rotate between. It sort of helped. Even now, though I sprawl and spin circles in my huge, empty bed, I always want to reach over and feel someone else beside me, someone whose sleepy arms might soothe me like the child I am.
But this, this was worse. I laid in bed feeling like someone had dropped a sack of bricks on my guts, trying to soothe myself by scrolling through meaningless 2 AM Instagrams on my phone. “Remember you are real, but the dream wasn’t,” I told myself. “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”
In the dream, you were packing a bag to leave. I told you not to go. I was standing across the room in a dress I haven’t worn in years, a dress I shoved in a dumpster. I told you not to go, that I had a very bad feeling about your leaving. Something horrible was going to happen to you if you left. I shouted it. I begged. I did everything I never did in real life. “Please don’t go. Please.”
But you said you had to, and you left. I could not shake the feeling, the foreboding.
And then you died. Someone hit you on your bike and you died. They brought your body to me, because I had stayed where you left me. You were still alive when they laid you on the table and I crawled right up next to you and fitted myself against your body, crying and screaming and shaking, until you died. I can’t imagine how that would feel in real life, to lay next to someone you love as their life trickles away. In this dream, I still loved you so much that I couldn’t breathe.
And I woke up feeling so pained, so terrified, so hurt that I just couldn’t shake it. The dream followed me around all day and kept me spooked and sad. It was too true to life. It was too vivid. What kind of sign was this, anyway?
I finally soothed myself back to sleep, thinking of kittens and palm trees and heiresses of the past, and the next morning I woke up early, and calm. And alone.