Of Dreams and Premonitions
At the crack of dawn, half awake and half asleep, he laid there thinking was it all in a dream. She was laying beside him and he reached out to touch her, but it was all a figment of his imagination. He had dreamt of a woman he’d dated many years ago, a dream that was so life like it disturbed him. They had lost touch with one another for several years, but for whatever reason he felt she was reaching out to him.
He woke me up very early in the morning with a distinct sound of distress in his voice to tell me he had a premonition. He kept telling me there was something wrong with his ex girlfriend, his senses told him so.
He was asking me for advice on how to handle the situation. He is now married he said, she is married, and he felt uncomfortable picking up the phone and calling to check in. Besides, he was sure her number had changed because she had moved continents to be with her new husband.
I told him dreams are just dreams and there is probably nothing wrong. He scoffed and said “of course there is something wrong, dreams like this don’t just happen”.
He asked me if I could check in on his ex using my contacts just to make sure she’s OK. I told him I preferred not to be involved, but he remained adamant.
I had learned long ago to stay away from the antics usually associated to this friend. As an older man now, in my mind at least, he remains as immature as he was decades ago. The number of women that he will refer to as an “ex” can only best be described in exponential numbers.
He used to say “experience is what you have when you’ve forgotten her name”. And, he always tried to give me and others advice on matters of the heart. Those that knew better listened, and of course never headed his advice.
In his defense, he had developed trust issues when it came to women. His mother left his father for another man when he was a young boy. She packed up and left to pursue her heart leaving him behind and not asking for custody. When he was older he thought he had found “the one” only to have her leave him for one of his good “friends”. A second similar experience played a role in leading him to trust no one, mostly not even himself.
When he called me he seemed so unhinged by the dream he had of his ex girlfriend. As he gave me more details of the dream, he stopped for a second to ask me how I was, but before I could answer inevitably the conversation became all about him. That was always fine with me, his life was a lot more colorful than mine.
Before refocusing on the dream, he listed a series of complaints about work, about his wife and about his life. Whatever means of recourse I presented, he would have none of it. No one was on his side, he told me, everyone, if not the whole world was out to get him.
I’ve met many colorful people throughout my life, but I doubt I’ve met anyone as unique as him. I could feel that many of his complaints were genuine. I’ve come to learn that more often than not, when someone thinks the world is always cheating them they tend to be right. This is usually exasperated when a person loses that wonderful feeling of trust in someone or something that tends to partly define their view of the world.
One of the many reasons my friend’s life is so colorful is because after he married he continued to behave as if he were single. He dated a woman we knew mutually who not only knew he was married, but also knew that he had no intention of leaving his wife. She needed a man in her life, married or not,and he always had a sense for knowing when a woman was vulnerable. By having her as a mistress, he gained something, she gained something, and no particular emphasis was placed on the fact that there was a third party in this equation notably his wife.
He once listed for me, to my objection, the several women we knew mutually he had dated. He told me he loved all of them, and that love came easy for him, but he felt like he couldn’t trust many of them.
Some of them are liars, he said. He went on to recall that he was in the park once and met this girl. She was cute and she had a dog. He went up to her, and they started talking. She told him her dog's name. Then he said, 'Does he bite?' She said, 'No.' And he said, 'Oh yeah? Then how does he eat?' From that he deduced she was a liar. I was lost.
He kept, though, going back to the dream of his ex girlfriend over and over again. If I would not check in on her, he said, I would be forcing him to reach out to his ex with whom he hadn’t communicated in years. He continued to repeat that something was wrong with her and he knew it, he felt it, and “we” had to see if we could help in some way.
I asked him if he knew anything about her life since they’d talked last. He told me she had married a few years ago and they had lost touch after that. She now lived with her husband somewhere far away and that was the last he’d heard of her until the dream.
I reiterated to him that this was just a dream, that it would no longer be appropriate for him to make contact. He was her ex boyfriend, she is married, he is married, the end. Dream or no dream, any attempt at contact his ex will likely be misunderstood.
On top of all this he was having serious problems with his wife. I reminded him of that repeatedly. If his wife found out he was reaching out to an ex girlfriend, how would she react? But, he was dismissive insisting something was wrong with his ex and that she was reaching out to him. Again, I reminded him it was just a dream.
It was also only a few weeks earlier that he had called me to recount a story about his wife when he came home late from work. As he tried to open the door, it was locked from the inside. He rang the door bell and called out to his wife to open the door. She eventually came to the door and reminded him it was after midnight. He pointed out he was working late. In disbelief, she said, “the only thing open after midnight are hospitals and legs. And, you looked pretty healthy to me this morning”. That evening ended badly for him.
I kept telling him to forget the dream, to let sleeping dogs lie, that we all have dreams, and to just drop the whole thing.
He was having none of it. I repeated to him his wife’s words that there’s nothing open after midnight except hospitals and legs and not to push his luck. He who cannot remember the past is condemned to repeat it.
He asked me, he pleaded with me, again and again, to check in on his ex. I remember saying something to him like “if the opportunity arises” and he took that as a yes, that I will check in on her and let him know. But, I simply did not want to get involved.
He called me about a week later to say that he had sent his ex a friend request on Facebook. Yes, Facebook, and that she had not replied. This concerned him even more. I tried to explain that it was logical for her not to accept his friend request. She was married, he was her ex-boyfriend, and he was married. Her husband too is likely a friend on her Facebook page, and he would likely notice she is befriending her ex. Why would she do that, I tried to explain.
He kept saying I just didn’t get it and that I needed to do what I promised and check in on her. He hung up this time saying he would consider my intervention as a personal favor.
A few days later he texted me to ask what I had done. I said nothing yet, and had no real intention of following up.
But, by sheer coincidence I was communicating with a work colleague who actually knew his ex quite well. When the “opportunity arose” I asked my colleague if she had any news of his ex girlfriend. My colleague went silent, and with a very quite and sad voice, told me she had passed away sometime ago after a short illness.
I was speechless. This was truly heartbreaking. What do I say to him now, I thought. I then needed to know when she passed, to deduce whether it was before or after my friend had his dream. It was before.
As soon as I ended my conversation with my colleague, I called him. He answered after the first ring. His first words were “she died, didn’t she?” I said yes, with great sadness especially because she was so young.
He went on to tell me that he already knew she had passed and thanked me for following up as I promised. I asked him if someone else had broken the news to him before I did, and he said, to my astonishment, “yes, her”.
He then asked me to confirm exactly when she has passed. I said it was before his dream, but he seemed to know that too.
I could hear him chocking a little on his words thereafter. I asked him if he was OK, he did not respond. I asked him if he loved her and he said, “the best way to find out if you actually love someone is to love them”. I didn’t understand what he meant, but it meant something to him.
He went on to say that nothing in life matters except the love we give and the love that we receive. He asked me to remember that and to not be overly focused on my career. I thought to myself he’s right, that’s all that really matters, and I felt that I was on the verge of tears.
He later tried to find out where she was buried only to know she was cremated. He told me he would make it a point to contact her husband to express his condolences. I asked him if that would be a mistake. He said that if he didn’t do exactly this the mistake would be his. As an older man now, my friend remains, in my mind at least, much more mature than I can ever claim to be.