One morning, two years ago, my husband called me from work. He asked about our son, Galahad. Noting the worry in his voice, I assured him that Galahad was playing in the yard and that he was fine. He then did something very strange…he asked me to bring him inside. He didn’t really want to explain, but I pressed him. He told me about a terrifying nightmare he had that night about Galahad…he told me he watched our son die. He said, “I never dream. Never.” I reassured him that I would, of course, do as he wished, and offered him all the comfort that I could. I read him reassuring quotes from Scripture about dreams and told him this was “most certainly not a prophecy, but a trick of the devil…a means to disturb both mind and soul.”

Though I still didn’t completely understand his feelings, I kept the children (all of them) in that day, and found other ways to entertain them, without telling them why they were being kept inside. By the next morning the worries and fear over the previous night’s events disappeared, and life continued as it ever does, with no further discussion of the frightful images that tortured my dear husband for a brief time.

Two nights ago, I had a similar nightmare. It was Emily. I witnessed, in this dream, the death of my child. It was so real, so horrifying, the emotions so intense and heartrending…I awoke literally screaming. The feeling of intense grief, enveloped me like a cloud and I spent the entire day doing everything I could to dispel the image.

I apologized to my dear husband. It was, after all, just a dream. But the feelings were as real as anything I’ve ever felt. I had no idea what he had suffered that day, two years ago, and feel that I was perhaps more condescending, than understanding.

Dreams…I’ve never really seen them as anything other than what they are. As a “vivid dreamer,” I’ve enjoyed the nightly show and have laughed out loud over some of the silliness that the evening’s rest reveal.

Nightmares, on the other hand are great disturbers of the peace. Our Lord means for us to have rest, and they come like thieves in the night to steal from us the peace we are meant to have. Is it not strange that we never seem to expect that our good dreams are portents of future happiness? We recognize them for what they are…silly pictures and images, but never prophecies. Yet, how many of us have felt secret dread after a nightmare, fearing perhaps that the images of terror will reveal some unavoidable destiny?

Dreams and nightmares. Both are equally distracting, though the latter is certainly the more disturbing of the two.

The nightmare of two nights ago has faded, it is receding to that place that all bad dreams go. But it left a bit of sweetness behind in its wake. Though I will never share that night’s horror with the children, I spent the rest of the day trying very hard to let each member of this family know how precious they are, how cherished. I encouraged the children to remember that we all have such a little bit of time to share our love on this earth, and doing it well here counts for all eternity.

From the book of Sirach:

1 The hopes of a man that is void of understanding are vain and deceitful: and dreams lift up fools.
2 The man that giveth heed to lying visions, is like to him that catcheth at a shadow, and followeth after the wind.
3 The vision of dreams is the resemblance of one thing to another: as when a man’s likeness is before the face of a man.
4 What can be made clean by the unclean? and what truth can come from that which is false?
5 Deceitful divinations and lying omens and the dreams of evildoers, are vanity:
6 And the heart fancieth as that of a woman in travail: except it be a vision sent forth from the most High, set not thy heart upon them.
7 For dreams have deceived many, and they have failed that put their trust in them.
8 The word of the law shall be fulfilled without a lie, and wisdom shall be made plain in the mouth of the faithful.