* Disclaimer: Before I worry anyone, let me assure you ... everyone here is absolutely fine.
BUT ... I did have a rather ugly nightmare last night, one from which I've only just woken up, and was, frankly, so shaken and disturbed by that though I rarely rise before nine on a weekend, I didn't want to, and really couldn't, go back to sleep, though it was, at the time, only a few minutes past four am.
I've always been someone who could remember her dreams in vivid detail, and sometimes I can even trick myself into dreaming about what I want to, by visualizing it as I'm falling asleep, though that worked better when I was a kid, when, I guess, there was less "stuff" rattling around up there in my head. So far this little game I sometimes play with my subconscious hasn't parlayed itself into any Stephenie Meyer sparkly boy and normal girl in the meadow moments, and it sure hasn't helped me sell 70+ million novels worldwide, more's the pity. But what it does mean is that when I have a nice dream, which I do have, at least as often as I have not-so-nice ones, I can actually remember it once I'm awake, at least if I make a conscious effort to do so. And in that way, things that haven't happened (yet, or ever) can become nearly real, become an almost, if not quite, bona fide memory.
This is something I used to, unintentionally, blur the lines of a bit as a kid, to the extent that I would occasionally, especially as a small child, say something that would kind of freak my mom out, like the time when I was about five when I woke up and asked her "Mom, where is my blue bird?" And when she questioned me about which bird, as she was certainly within rights to do, as our household was an avian free zone at that time, and we had no birds living there, blue or otherwise, I passionately insisted for a number of minutes that I had gotten a blue budgerigar, whose name was Blue Boy (I know, very original!), and his cage had been hanging just above my bed when I went to sleep, and exactly where was Blue Boy now? Blue Boy, of course, didn't exist, and never had, though my mother had had a blue budgie named Chipper as a child, about whom she had often told me, and some older children down the street with whom I occasionally played, also had one, whose name was Charlie. Mom was eventually able to convince me that Blue Boy wasn't real, about which I was bitterly disappointed, but not that long later, I was gifted with not a blue budgie, but a green one, who I named Perky.
Of course, all dreams can't be happy ones. It doesn't work that way. Love and loss. Joy and sorrow. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. These alter egos seem doomed to walk in lock step, and you just don't get one without the other. So every now and then, I'll have a really awful dream, and possibly because I've nurtured my ability to retain and recall my dreams upon awaking, it can be really hard for me to shake a nightmare, even once I'm fully awake and have realized that whatever gruesome images have stolen my sleep are not real, but were instead manufactured in my subconscious.
Last night's dream was particularly horrible, though, for once, I can't recall a lot of the details, but in it, all the cats were out in the back yard, someplace, frankly, that they'd never ever be in the first place, since they're strictly indoor cats whose only access to the outdoors is via the enclosed cat porch where they can bask in the sunshine and stalk lizards in safety, and Finn, while investigating a wood pile (that doesn't exist by the way) was set upon and mercilessly stung by swarms and swarms of bees, which also stung me repeatedly as I tried to grab him and carry him to safety. Something I was, to be blunt, unable to do, and he died in my arms as I clutched him and sobbed.
On that note, I woke up, heart pounding and sick with imagined grief, to find that Finn had not met his end after all, but was curled up, purring his usual night-time symphony of content, on the pillow not three inches from my head. Still, though, I was disturbed enough to rise from my warm bed and come out to the living room to flip mindlessly through infomercials for magic blenders and miracle hair care products in an effort to chase away the dregs of a nightmare that, however briefly, had felt all too real.
And as I sat here, I was thinking about how Finn will be two years old in a couple of months, and about how much I have grown to love, and in fact, cherish him, during the nineteen or so months he's been here. How he's gone from being a scared, scrawny, sick feral kitten that I felt compassion and pity for, and wanted to help, but not get too close to, lest I fall in love with him and want to keep him (yeah, imagine that), to a beautiful, sleek, adult cat I unreservedly adore, who meets me at the door each evening with as much enthusiasm as if I were returning from battle (which let's face it, after a long day in the advertising world I sometimes feel like I have), comes running when I call him and then stretches up on his back legs so that I can grasp him under the armpits and swing him up into my arms like a child, the better to kiss his little black nose.
Obviously I don't know exactly when Finn was born, or even where. All I know is that he was approximately four months old when he entered my life, which means he'll be turning two some time in January, a month, coincidentally, in which my beloved Dakotah was born, and also the month in which he died, leaving the world sixteen years almost to the day after he entered it. Something which has been on my mind not a little bit lately, and which might have something to do with this dream, especially considering that had Dakotah's exit from the world and Finn's arrival in it not been separated by two years, they may very well have been housemates. When you think about it that way, it has a certain symmetry. Love and loss again, in all its guises. I loved Dakotah for sixteen years, after all, love him still, in fact, just as I love Finn now, but will someday lose him.
But not today. (And not on account of any stupid bees!)