It’s funny how dreams can sometimes be a message from the unconscious. While staying in San Francisco earlier this year I dreamed I was standing in a large room in someone’s house. I happened to glance through the window at some children playing in the garden, but then noticed standing on the grass staring right at me, was a large mean-looking black bull. His eyes glistened, he was all muscle and his skin was taut. I froze until a gentle knock on the door brought me back to my senses. I opened the door just wide enough to see three or four children in the hall, a little way behind them stood the bull. I bustled them into the room and quickly closed the door. I was terrified. Two seconds later an almighty noise as the bull smashed the door down. Without thinking I grabbed him by the horns, flipped him over and with my foot against his face pulled at one of his horns until it became limp, then did the same on the other side until he was completely disarmed, lying in a heap on the floor. When I awoke, and after trying to work out what this vivid dream meant, I saw on my phone an email from United Airlines saying my flight to Los Angeles later that evening could be cancelled or severely delayed due to stormy weather. I’m not a great flyer and so immediately went into panic mode. I began frantically finding other ways to get back to Los Angeles, including hiring a car, finding a train and checking on coaches. Fear driven obsession took over as I desperately tried to find another way to reach LA, anything other than flying in a storm. Then my dream came back to me. I realised what it was trying to tell me. The bull represented my fear. In the dream I had taken control of this fear with courage. I had literally taken the bull by the horns. I smiled to myself, put the phone down and knew I would be taking that flight, cancelled or delayed.
The last time I saw my mum was the day before she died in September. I was with my brother and together we sang Amazing Grace to the skeletal figure lying motionless underneath the blankets. Her beautiful face was now unrecognizable, but we believed she could still hear. And so, just like all the other days, we told her how much we all loved her, we named each of her five children followed by her thirteen grandchildren. When my brother had gone through that same long list the day before she muttered something almost inaudible. He put his ear to her mouth and in the faintest of whispers he heard her say, “I feel so lucky.”
Standing outside her room on that last day, I spoke to one of the carers about the different situations she’d witnessed since working at this residential home. Stories that made me believe that often people choose when they are ready to leave. Stories of people waiting for their loved ones to arrive from across the world before going, or another person, a woman who was dying of cancer and every day her husband would sit beside her bed, telling her she would get better until one day he came and said, it’s okay darling, you can go now. She died that night. “Sometimes,” this carer continued, “just opening the window shows the person you’re ready to release them.”
Just before leaving our mother’s bedside, I looked into her face, the face I no longer knew, and said, “Mum, I’m off to Norfolk tomorrow, I’ve opened the window so you can fly.”
That was the last I saw of her, she died the following day, not while my brother and his wife were with her, she waited for them to leave before the angels wrapped their arms around her and carried her away.