I had a dream about my junior high school. It started with me hurrying back from lunch. I was rushing to not be late. When I arrived, I couldn’t remember where to go. Confused, I stood in front of the old three-story brick building.
I couldn’t remember my class schedule, so I forced myself to think of the day of the week. I decided it was Monday, so I could narrow it down to my Monday, Wednesday, Friday classes. But in junior high and high school I had the same classes five days a week. It wasn’t until college, I had classes only on certain days of the week; but it was a dream, so it didn’t matter.
Possibly, if I entered the building I would recognize someone, and be reminded where to go. Upon entering the first floor, I saw teenagers rushing to their classes to beat the bell, but I didn’t recognize anyone. So, I walked up the stairs to the second floor. By this time, no one was in the halls except for an occasional late teenager running to their classroom. I still didn’t recognize anyone.
Then I thought there might be a class schedule in my locker. I concentrated but couldn’t remember where my locker was located. How could I forget my locker was located on the third floor, which was the most inconvenient place possible? If I found it, I wouldn’t remember the combination. Even awake, I can’t remember my junior high locker combination.
I decided to give up and go to the office for help. The office in Jefferson Junior High was on the second floor, but I couldn’t find it in my dream. I roamed up and down the hall, but it wasn’t there. I panicked as I peered in one door and then another. It just didn’t make sense. I should know where the office was located. After all I had been sent there a few times by unamused teachers. Those were the days when the principal had a wooden paddle in his desk, so the memories were vivid.
It’s been fifty years since I was in that school, but it didn’t seem odd. It seemed I was a student, but I just couldn’t remember my class schedule. I felt confusion and panic, and I didn’t recognize anyone. Wow! What a felt relief when I awoke.
Then I realized how similar my feelings in my dream must be to my mother’s real life with dementia. She goes to bed promptly at 9:00 p.m. but gets up around 10:30 to go to the bathroom. Usually, she asks if it’s time to get up. She is confused about time and places. She thinks she is living in her home in the Midwest instead of my home in Florida.
She doesn’t call people by their name. I think because she can’t remember. Sometimes she knows my name if asked, but other times not. Like in my dream she doesn’t recognized anyone. I’m not sure she experiences panic, but she reacts at times with anger. She snaps an angry comment when she doesn’t understand what is happening, which I think is from panic.
Unlike me she won’t wake from her dream. She must endure the confusion for the remainder of her days. Maybe it was God who gave me the dream to help me understand, or maybe it was the pizza I had for dinner. Either way, I’m glad I experienced it. It helps me be more compassionate as I care for my mother.
“And it shall be in the last days,” God said, “that I will pour forth my Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and you young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” ACTS 2:17 NASB
© Ronald Milburn 2018