Friday, June 1, 2012

Dream of Comfort

Someone should write a book about the function of dreams in recovering from trauma and loss.

Driving home from work two days ago, I heard an interview with Doc Watson, who recently died, from the late 1980s.  Doc Watson, who I saw perform with David Grisman (one of the world's great mandolinist) about eight years ago, was a master folk/country guitarist.  (see  In the interview, Watson spoke about the death of his son with whom he had performed.  (I didn't catch how his son died, only that it was sudden and devastating).  When asked how he was able to keep performing after his son's death, Watson related a dream. In the dream, Watson felt as if he were sinking into quicksand.  He then had a vision of his son, who stretched out his hand to help Watson.  Watson understood the dream to mean that his son had given him permission to continue performing and making music (though he also said that his wife never recovered from the tragedy). (The interview can be heard at

The night after I heard this interview, I dreamed again of my mother.  The quality of the dream was different than my previous dreams of her.  In this dream, I didn't interact much with her.  Rather, I saw her talking to other people in a natural kind of way. She wasn't in pain, she wasn't suffering.  She was relaxed and happy.  When I awoke I felt a kind of comfort I haven't felt before.  It wasn't a dream of longing and absence.  It was a dream of acceptance and a sense of her continual presence.  I walked to shul that morning feeling buoyed and content. I was asked to daven P'sukei D'zimrah (the introductory psalms of the morning service).  I did so willingly and happily.

As I've said before, the process of mourning is neither linear nor entirely predictable.  Perhaps, and maybe even predictably, as I enter the second half of my kaddish year, feelings of comfort and acceptance will ascend and feelings of pain and loss will recede. 

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