Posted by: Rob | July 23, 2009


I had a dream about Shelley last night. It was the first one I’ve had about her in some time now.

It was a strange dream. The setting was somewhat of a mountainous wilderness area. The area was graveled and there some vague smallish structures in the distance. When I became aware of the dream, I noticed that there were a couple of long lines of people. They were waiting and queuing for the chance to shower, it seems. There was a line for men and a line for women, and each line stood upon a wooden sidewalk or boardwalk.

At first, I seemed to be surrounded by strangers. I did not know anyone else present. There were a few strange occurrences where people would swap their clothes for sandwich board style modesty covers. I witnessed many hairy backs and buttocks. I’m not sure why this was occurring as I had the sense that it was cool, maybe even cold.

Then, I happened to glance over at the women’s line. That was when I saw a familiar face. Her red hair made her stand out from the crowd. Her hair and the fact that she was wearing a white jacket and skirt suit that I recognized. And high heels, all of which were a little out of place for the setting.

I tried to get her attention, but she didn’t see me. Then, all of a sudden, the women’s line starting moving rapidly forward. Gaps opened up and Shelley began to run to keep up. It was then that I burst from the men’s line and ran after her, calling and waving.

I caught up to her and grabbed her arm, swinging her around to face me. Her expression was a little blank and it seemed that she did not recognize me. I pulled her to me and wrapped my arms around her. I pressed my lips to hers, but she did not respond.

We seemed to be spinning and she became dead weight in my arms. I opened my eyes and the light seemed to fade from her eyes. I tried to lower her to the ground but as I was doing so, she just…faded away.

That’s when I awoke.

As I lay semi-awake, I wondered at the meaning of this dream. It is now less than thirty days until the date she died, almost three years ago now.

Images from that last month in the summer of 2006 came unbidden to my mind and I recalled those last two trips to Calgary, the meeting with Dr. Janssen and the final days when loved ones came a-running.

I guess, eventually, I was able to get back to sleep. But I wonder, will it always be like this? Every summer?


  1. I don’t know the answer to that question, but it did remind me of a quote from Calvin and Hobbes, of all the odd sources:

    “I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”


  2. Will never recognizes me on the odd times he shows up in dreams either.

    I wonder sometimes if it means that I am as much a long ago memory to him as he is to me because I know he has a new life … somewhere … and I am not an active part.

    I don’t know if it will always be this way. The way dates intrude on life, and I do see them as intrusive because they serve no real point. It’s not as if a person forgets really and needs the reminders.

    And I don’t know about the idea that dreams bridge a gap. I know that I have always known you and yet we seem to spend more of our existence apart than together.

    I wonder if your dream has anything to do with the odd ones I have been having about you?

  3. Maybe this is why I never dream about Nick, so I’ll be spared his not recognizing me. (I’m getting weepy at the thought of it: Seeing that face I miss so much, and seeing it blank with not knowing me.)

    But to answer your question, Yes. I think the encroaching dates will always have this effect on us. Today is my 7YO’s birthday, the last party we celebrated with Nick … 2 weeks later, he lay dying in the ICU. Even in the happiness of cake and ice cream today, I can’t shake the memories of that last birthday party and the end of our family life.

  4. For me, the time around the long weekend in May gets weird. It was that time 3 years ago when Willis went off the deep end, in the manic-depressive episode that killed him in the August. One’s body knows- the time of year and its significance. The days are weird enough already without the night-time dreams, images and emotional entanglements.

  5. I stumbled across this post because of the link on your Facebook page to the report you wrote for the Max MacCoy book that you picked up from the beloved bookmobile 🙂

    You have always seem to me at least as an on looking neighbor to be really very quiet. You have always been steadily working on your deck, landscaping, yard work and home reno’s and not too much time was wasted yapping away with the neighbors. Needless to say that a blog full of your interesting ideas, opinions and witty humor came as an interesting opportunity to get to know the man with whose children I grew up with and whose newest little daughter spends much time filling my mothers home with laughter and smiles.

    I wouldn’t usually comment on your blog and I thought I would just anonymously peek around your page and get a glimpse in to your head. But I came across this post and have not to stop bawling since.

    When Shelley was going through all her treatments and fighting out her last days I was 20 yeas old recently moved out of Josephburg and into the city. My life was just beginning as the last chapters of her physical life were unfolding. I had never lost anyone to death in my life and I’m not sure that I really grasped the magnitude of the situation or how it would affect those who lives were intertwined with Shelley’s.

    When she passed away obviously for me the people that it affected most in my circle of influence were my Mother and Jordan. My hearts ached for Jordan and your family and for my Mom as I watched her cry and recall all the years of friendship that our families share.

    Somehow, I personally didn’t feel like I had any right to cry for or openly mourn Shelley like the others did. After all I had been gallivanting around the city having fun during her struggle while everyone else was providing her with their love and support. I didn’t feel that I deserved to show how sad I really felt, and it was out of guilt for not being around that I couldn’t even bring myself to attend her funeral, a selfish choice that I regret even still.

    Now on July 26, 2009 nearly three years later I let my tears fall on the keys of my Macbook. I cry for me and for our families and for those that have to go on without Shelley’s positive attitude, her warm hugs, her beautiful smile and most of all her gentle and encouraging guidance. Yesterday’s memories flood my heart and today I mourn a loss that I needed to acknowledge long ago.

    Much love your neighbor,

    PS : Please excuse my grammar and punctuation , and my lack of eloquence . Those things have just never been my strong suit.

    • Shae,

      Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words and reflections. I appreciate it.

      And, I can assure you, I have spent a lot of time “yapping with the neighbours” over the years. How else do you become friends?

      Thanks again.

  6. The hardest thing for me to remember when I have that type of dream is that it really is a dream, and not a sign of abandonment. It is a way for our brain to further process a traumatic event.

    One time long ago I wrote about a very disturbing dream and asked for advice. I received a whole bunch of good advice, but the one piece that helped the most was an idea that we need to put put our self in the other person’s position in the dream, and that’s what the dream is really about. In your case, that would mean that perhaps you are afraid that Shelley would no longer recognize the person you are today, and that is disturbing to you.

    I see you wrote this entry a few days ago, and I’m hoping that over those days you have found a bit of peace. This type of dream can be difficult to shake off, I know.

    I’m posting a link to my disturbing dream, hoping some of the answers I received might help you as well, even though the dream details are different.


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