An Earlier Than Usual Bruce Dream

(NOTE: This blog is about Bruce, and while many of you know who Bruce is, new readers may not so I thought I’d give him a quick introduction. Bruce was my first husband. He died in 1983 when I was 19, he was 24, and our daughter was 11 days old. He died on March 22 when a train struck his tractor. Here are the links to blogs I’ve written about him: Why I Have a Love/Hate Relationship with March 15; How A Little Story About the Dead Is Good; Death; Death Part II; I Didn’t Hear The Train Either; and How We Met (And There Are Photos).)

I had a Bruce dream last night. He’s a little early this year. Usually it’s the string of birthdates and death-related anniversaries in March that prompt these dreams. Sometimes just a passing thought during the day invites him into my sleep, but I haven’t thought about Bruce in awhile. That’s why last night’s dream was a surprise, and not a pleasant one at that. It’s left me with an emotional hangover that I’m having a hard time shaking today. I thought perhaps if I wrote about it, I’d feel better.

Most of my Bruce dreams have similar storylines. I’m living my life as it is at the time when in my dream I discover Bruce is still alive and so I go in search of him. Sometimes I find him. Sometimes I don’t. Psychologists say it’s because I never saw Bruce dead that I keep having these dreams, and they may well be right, but sometimes it’s as though he’s actually reaching out to me, letting me know he’s OK or that he just wants to check in to make sure I’m alright.

Last night’s dream, though, had a darker feel than usual. What I remember most is that I discovered Bruce was in the train wreck and was living in a nursing home, blind and learning to speak again. My sister-in-law told me she checked in on him once in awhile. I had no idea he was alive, of course, so all I wanted to do was get to him. I could feel it in my sleep, how excited I was thinking I’d hold him again, talk to him again, see his beautiful face again. I asked my sister-in-law if he remembered me and she said yes, that he’d asked about me and was wondering where I was. But when I got to the nursing home, all I could do was see him from a distance. He was wearing a red flannel shirt and his hair was a mess. I don’t know why, but I was being held back. He couldn’t see me and I started worrying that he thought I’d abandoned him. I felt a deepening earnestness and intense anxiety. I was mad with anguish. I was so very sad that I started crying for real.

When I woke up, I was exhausted. Seven hours of sleep down the drain.

I hate when my Bruce dreams are this intense. I don’t understand them or their purpose. I feel better writing about it, though. Maybe this will be enough to fend off another dream tonight. It’s rare I have two in a row.

Thanks for reading. I promise happier blogs in the near future. In the meantime, I could use some “sweet dream vibes”.

6 thoughts on “An Earlier Than Usual Bruce Dream

  1. Hi, I heard about you because my daughter sent me a link to your experiences. In any event I wanted to share a quote with you that I always find heartening when I visit my folks in the cemetery. One of my mother’s friends has also passed on, and the inscription on her stone reads: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”. Good luck to you, you write beautifully, and you sound like a lovely person.

  2. Hi, Lynn. I am compelled to comment on this article because it is so like my personal experience. I have “Joe” dreams. Joe died by suicide over 20 years ago, yet I still have recurring dreams with a similar theme to yours – I’m always searching for him, sometimes find him, sometimes don’t. The emotions in the dreams are so intense, so real, that the afterglow, if you will, lasts for a day or two. Strangely, despite the unspeakable manner of his death, the dreams are never what I would call nightmares, and sometimes are very sweet and tender, although I have actually cried in my sleep from pure emotion.
    The writing does help a little, doesn’t it? I’m an unpublished writer myself and have found that writing about him and my feelings, whether directly or indirectly, does make me feel better.
    Your experience just struck a chord with me, and I am off to read the links in your first paragraph. Thanks for posting this, and I’m so glad I found it.

  3. Hi Lynn,
    I’ve read your blog for a while now, having seen you as “Idatarbell” on the WW site, which caught my eye because my mom’s name was Ida. Now, I read it occasionally because we are the same age and have a couple similarities. Your piece on delayed grief hit me at my core. My father died when I was 13 (Jan. 1977), my “other mother” in 1995, and then my brother a few days later just after his 39th birthday (I was 31). My mother passed in 2000, and so I feel quite sad in terms of having my “family of origin”, although I have two older brothers still alive, one of which I cannot stand and the other who is still trying to find his way.
    I love your writing style, your candidness, and your sweet honesty. I, too, have those odd dreams of my loved ones who have passed, and awake with varied senses of clarity of their after-life state.
    So thank you for sharing, and perhaps we could exchange kindred stories some day.

  4. Since I’ve only recently began reading I didn’t know who Bruce was, but for some reason I knew that you were a young widow.
    I think our loved ones come to our dreams to comfort us (tho I think sometimes we’re upset rather than comforted). About the time my dad died (on my birthday 10 years ago), one of my 8 year old scouts died suddenly. He would be 18 now. A couple of years ago he appeared in my dreams, he was 16. I recognized him and we talked about him being gone and he said he was sorry that he had to leave so soon. It was the weirdest dream, but I chose to take comfort from it.
    Small town gossip can be appalling (I’ve always lived in small towns) and those people should be ashamed (still) of themselves. I am sorry for you loss so many years ago. Thank you for sharing with us.

  5. Lynn, I may have heard about these dreams before but not remembered because of not having had dreams like that before. I have dreams that my mother (she died three years ago) comes back. She finds that her “space” in life is gone because her husband has a girlfriend and in other ways we have all moved on. And (she was a very stoic person and this is exactly what she would have done) so she gets her own apartment and starts a new life. I didn’t realize these “coming back” dreams were kind of standard dream stuff.
    I do wish you peace with yours, and less stressful sleep.

  6. I, too, know the emotional toll these type of dreams can have. My grandfather passed away not a year ago and at first I had many dreams of him. It was a very sad passing for our family and we all struggled with it. Not even a week had passed by after he’d died and I had a dream of him laughing and smiling and at peace. I hold onto those dreams. When I become sad or upset to think that he is gone, I remember that he is at peace now and that he’s full of joy again. And I know I’ll join him again when this life is over. Hold on to your wonderful memories of Bruce and the dreams that he’s “alive” in another place. You’ll see him again. This I promise.

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