Weird Stuff

A Shared Dream

My son’s father, Bob, had a dream one night, in which our son – who was about four at the time – showed up incongruously in the middle of dream events that didn’t concern him at all.  In the dream, our son was older – perhaps ten or eleven.  He had come into the room and interrupted the other dream events, and he spent the rest of Bob’s dream just chatting with his dad about things that Bob could not remember when he awoke.  Because the original dream events had been emotional, and because our son’s presence in the dream was so unconnected to them, Bob was moved by this dream, and decided he would tell me about it when he saw me.

Before he could do that, though, our son woke up, and related to his father that he had had a great dream, where he was playing sports with some other kids.  Sometimes in this dream he was himself – a four-year-old boy – and sometimes he was an older self, a ten-year-old him that played with the other kids for a long time, but then went away.

“I don’t know where I went,” he told his dad.  “But then I came back.  And then I woke up!”

Bob wondered if the ten-year-old version of our son in his dream was the same boy that our son dreamed of, playing with the other kids and then leaving for a while – perhaps to visit his father’s dream and chat.

And now that our son is eleven years old, I wonder if he’ll have a dream some time of playing sports with a younger him, and taking a break to visit his dad.  I wonder if he’ll remember what they chatted about.


Weird Stuff …

The Inhaler

For a long time, I had no car and no phone.  I lived about two miles from my friend Bob, who had a phone but no car.  He had been at my house in the late afternoon, on one of the coldest days of the winter – temperatures easily fell below zero – and he left to walk home just before dark.

Bob has asthma and allergies; more than once, he has had to go to the emergency room because his airways closed almost completely.  Needless to say, his inhaler is a very important thing for him to have.  He had used it, in fact, while visiting me … and, after he had been gone for nearly an hour, I saw that inhaler sitting on my table.

Well, crap, I thought.  It was so cold outside.  It was such a long walk.  He hadn’t been sick at all – no colds, no bad allergy attacks.  I didn’t have a phone, but he did: he could call someone to bring him back to my apartment.  He lived, actually, just four blocks from the emergency room, and he could get there more easily than he – or I – could cover the distance between us on foot.  I felt extremely conflicted, but I decided that he was not in any danger, and that it would be better to stay in out of the cold.  What were the odds, after all, of him needing his inhaler so desperately this particular night?  He hadn’t had a bad asthma attack in months.

I felt conflicted, but ultimately I decided to go to bed.

In the middle of the night, I had a dream that Bob came into the house.  He walked across the living room to the table where his inhaler still sat; he picked it up and walked out again.  It was such a vivid dream that I even noticed the time – 2:00 am.

When I woke up the next morning, I saw that the inhaler was really gone.  I figured that, at 2:00 am, Bob really had come into the house and picked up his inhaler.  I felt bad, because he wouldn’t have done that unless he was having trouble breathing, but I thought how strange it was of him to walk all the way back two miles to my apartment instead of walking four blocks to the hospital.

When I saw Bob later that day, he asked me if he had left his inhaler at my place.  I looked at him strangely and said that he had.  He said that he had had a vicious asthma attack in the middle of the night; he had looked through every pocket and searched his house, but his inhaler was not there.  He checked all the pockets of his coat repeatedly, but it was not there.  Well, he decided, he would just try to breathe through the attack, and if he really could not, then he would just go over to the emergency room.  He sat, weak and breathless, struggling to get air into his lungs and trying to weather this storm.  It was 2:00 am.  If he was still struggling at 2:15, he thought, he would go to the hospital.  He sat, knowing that he must have left the inhaler at my house, and tried to visualize it – he saw himself walk into the house, pick up the inhaler off the table, and leave again.  This visualization, born out of a dream-like state of fatigue, panic, and lack of oxygen, was so vivid that when he opened his eyes he wondered if he had really somehow crossed town and fetched his medicine without realizing it.  But no – the clock said 2:05 am; he had only closed his eyes for a moment.

It had been so real, though.

He decided that he should look in the pocket of his coat again – the pocket he had put the inhaler in at the end of his visualization, the pocket he had checked a dozen times ten minutes earlier.

There was the inhaler.

It’s the weirdest thing, I suppose, that’s ever happened to me.

It’s certainly nothing we’ve ever been able to explain.

Weird Stuff – Little Kitties

For whatever reason, my family has a lot of phantom cats.

Most of them seem to be cats that have been in our lives in a more corporeal way, but once in a while the cat is completely unfamiliar.

My older son saw one such random cat – a white cat that he assumed had just snuck into the house through an open door.  He watched it walk across our tiny hallway … and into the wall at the end of it.

My younger son – during an evening when the power was out – had turned on his little light saber toy and was swinging it for his three cats to play with.  Admittedly, it was fairly dark in the room, but he was very sure that four cats were playing with him.  He was so sure, in fact, that he stopped playing for a moment and counted the cats – four.  But when he turned on the flashlight, there were only three again.

Having multiple cats means that one or more of them is always meowing about something, running around, or jumping on the bed onto unsuspecting sleepers.  It takes a moment to realize that all the cats are visually accounted for, yet there’s still a sensation of one walking along the bedclothes or a sound of one walking in the other room; there’s still too many heads poking out of a curled up mound of black fur, too many shadows running for the food dish.

Sudden cats have joined my son in the back seat of the car – perched on the shelf under the rear window – only to be gone a second later.  Invisible cats walk by, rubbing against the people in the room but never revealing themselves.  They sit sometimes in windows and then disappear, leaving the observer wondering if they had ever been there at all.  They yowl from empty basements while all the other cats look on in detached interest.  They walk across people lying in bed, pressing down the covers without appearing to the eye at all.

Why would phantom cats decide so consistently to hang around?

I suppose for the same reason corporeal cats hang around us – I’m not sure what that reason is.  But the strangest part of the phantom-cat experience is how used to it we’ve all become.  It isn’t even particularly startling anymore.  Basically, it seems as though we have dozens of cats – but only five of them are … tangible.

Weird Stuff

My friend Bob has a very good memory; when we want to remember the details of something that happened, we turn to Bob.  So when he says that the home-health aid had a red car, I have no reason to doubt him.

She would come quite often to the house to care for Bob’s ill mother; she would pull up in her red car and she would leave in her red car.  Occasionally they even spoke about the red car.

One day she showed up in a blue car.

Bob said, “Oh, you have a new car!”

She looked at him strangely, and back at her car.  “No,” she said.

He thought perhaps she had borrowed the blue car?  No, the car in front of the house was hers and had been for a long time.  Did she have two cars? No, she had always just had the one.  But the day before – all the days before – it had been red.

It’s such a small thing, really, when it’s written down, but it was certainly strange to Bob.  We’ve wondered if somehow he crossed into a different quantum reality, a parallel universe if you will; we’ve wondered what other things beside the colour of the home-health aid’s car might have changed.

What sort of life has the she-has-a-red-car Bob been living?  What things in that reality are different?  Are those things better? – or worse?

I wonder if the other Bob wonders what happened to the blue car.

Weird Stuff…

The Little Girl

My mother worked as a librarian at the nearby grade school.  She got to know many of the students, including a little girl – I’ll call her Mary – who had some health and developmental issues.  One morning my mother was walking down the hall – a fairly short hall, since it was a fairly tiny grade school – and she saw Mary standing in front of one of the classroom doors, looking into the class through the little window in the door.  She looked sort of forlorn.

My mother asked her what she was doing.  She indicated that she wanted to play with the kids.  My mother told her gently that she needed to get back to class and that she could play with them later.  Mary stayed where she was, but she did seem to hear my mother and to acknowledge that she should be going.  So my mother left Mary in the hallway in front of the classroom door, and she walked to the end of the hall and around the corner to the office.

Several grown-ups were standing in front of the office, crying and hugging one another.  My mother asked them what had happened, and they told her that Mary’s family had just called – Mary had died in the night.  My mother turned immediately and looked back down the hall, but the little girl was gone.  “Are you sure?” she asked the people in front of the office.  “Are you sure it was Mary?”

They were sure; Mary had died in the early morning hours.

But my mother was just as sure of what she had seen, that she had spoken to Mary only a moment ago, and that Mary had responded.  She decided later that Mary must have stopped by the school to say goodbye, on her way to wherever we go when we’re gone.

And she wonders if perhaps Mary is playing with the other kids now, whether they know it or not.


Weird Stuff – The Porch-Ghost

My mother always felt that there was a ghost in our house, some invisible personage who seemed to come and go at its whim.  She describes feeling its presence, sometimes a soothing hand on her arm or an embrace.  She was never frightened by it; in fact, she grew quite used to it, and was grateful for its comfort.

On a St. Patrick’s Day many years ago, my mother threw a party for the people she knew from the church – including some older nuns who were the last to leave.  When they decided to go, my mother walked them through our enclosed porch and onto the front steps, where she waved goodbye to them and went back into the house.  She shut the outer door, crossed the porch, and, upon entering the living room, gave the inner door (which liked to get stuck on the thick carpet) a pretty good push closed.

The door – not one of those new-fangled hollow-core doors, but an actual, solid-wood door – did not close.  Instead, it impacted with a loud crack against something on the other side of it, and bounced back into my mother’s hands.

The first thought my mother had, of course, was that one of the women had perhaps forgotten something and come back inside to fetch it – only to be hit in the head with our giant, wooden door.  “Oh my God,” she thought, panicking.  “I’ve killed a nun!”  She grabbed the door and pulled it open, her words of apology and worry spilling over one another.

“Are you okay, Sister?!  I didn’t know you were – “

But no one was there.

My mother tested the door to see if something had intruded itself into the door jamb – someone’s shoe or a child’s toy – but there was nothing blocking the doorway and nothing on the floor that might have fallen there from the door. The door itself opened and closed just fine.

My mother instantly thought of the ghost.  “I’m sorry!” she said very sincerely into the empty porch.  “I didn’t expect you to be there.”

But, although our house-ghost still seems very much to be in our porch – ringing the little bell in the outer door, opening the inner door, making footsteps – as far as any of us is aware,   it has never taken the chance again to cross such a dangerous threshold.