She hadn’t liked it. The dream was terrifying and all too real.She and her partner were practicing their piece, singing and dancing, one of several to perform live on a community stage. The theater was sold out, they heard. The closer they got to opening night, the more nervous she became, eating anything and everything in sight to calm herself down. By opening night she was at her worst, feeling bloated with food and unable to remember either the dance routine or the lyrics they were to sing.“Don’t worry”, said the partner, he would take the lead. She had but to follow. Their cue came and to enthusiastic clapping of hands they moved to center stage. Then, without warning of any kind, the partner walked off, leaving her to fend for herself. There she stood on center stage, alone, listening to the applause but unable to move, embarrassed beyond imagining, the announcer’s encouragement only turning the applause to pity.
At that point she woke up, her pajamas soaked through with sweat.
Her real-life partner, sleeping next to her, had been unaware of the nightmare but listened now with full attention as she recounted the dream. Usually, she said, she never remembered her dreams but this one was vivid, of total recall, the deep fear gripping her entire body, the uncontrollable eating, the sense of paralysis and abandonment, sharp and painful. Although neither would claim expertise at interpreting dreams, both are aware that dreams often carry clues to things our subconscious selves are trying to tell us about ourselves.
Food addiction, if that’s a proper term for it, was an issue for her before high school, food being withheld to force her to lose weight which, of course, had the opposite effect. He sees no trace of that now in his partner’s eating habits but he’s aware that she’s most always conscious of what she eats and is very careful not to overdo it. That she consistently weighs in at between 106 to 108 pounds, says a lot to him for he is always conscious of keeping his weight under control as well.
Abandonment seemed a much bigger issue to him and therefore, he sought, right off the bat, to reassure her that he would never abandon her intentionally, that they were in this relationship for the rest of their lives. That, of course, is the issue. At 92 years of age, He is, theoretically, closer to death than she, and after losing her husband to a fatal heart attack only three years ago, she cannot stand the thought of being abandoned once again. He intends to do all he can to stay alive, upright and mobile and is already inviting friends to his 100th birthday party in 2027 upstairs at the LaConner Seafood Restaurant.
They are both aware, however, that they do not have the control they like to think they have with respect to their deaths. She could die before him. So, in a sense, death is always going to be untimely. What they do have control over is how they face death and the understanding they bring to it. That is the direction he and his partner are beginning to move in now, a deeper exploration of death’s mystery in their own Christian tradition.
He didn’t want the last picture of herself to be that in the dream, an old woman standing on stage alone enduring the audience’s pity, so he improvised on the spot. While she stands there on the stage’s front edge, mute and immobile, a spotlight turns on, focused entirely on her. It is the light of God’s love shining upon her, the light entering her through every pore. She feels the warmth and energy of it. Suddenly, she is filled with confidence and joy, remembers her lines and begins to move her arms and feet as the band below picks up her beat. Within seconds she is singing and dancing, the crowd enthusiastically joining in, wanting to be part of the transformation. And just like that, a star is born!