Once in while I find myself waking from a dream that is so jarring, so horrific and realistic that it takes a few minutes to realize that I am safe at home in my bed with my husband and cats, and not in the life-threatening peril I thought I was in just moments before.

Other times I wake to find that my dream the previous night have had some kind of prophetic quality to it, regarding an animal I might run into later in the day, or a movie I might see later in the week.

It’s terrifying when those two types of dreams collide.

Last night I dreamt of an alien invasion. They looked like us, but much taller, standing about ten feet, with bigger, bald heads. (Think Richard Kiel’s alien in the episode of The Twilight Zone, where “To Serve Man” was actually a cookbook, but leaner and fitter.) I never saw the destruction coming, but one moment I looked out of the window to see nothing between here and the river. Nothing but flat land and charred trees, razed by some unseen force. Devastation.

We were told to collect what we could in a single suitcase, and get out of the building because the shuttles were coming to take us to a safe place. I remember laying out my clothes, unable to decide between my favorite comfy sweater that I’ve had for years and the new stylish outfit I purchased for an incredible $15 at Old Navy last weekend. I ended up throwing some random clothes in my suitcase, but not closing it, opting rather for a couple of music books I grabbed haphazardly from the shelf, clinging them to my chest the way we did in middle school.

The shuttle was supposed to come in two minutes – not much time to prepare. The woman upstairs was hysterical because she didn’t have enough arms to carry all her things, including a kitten she had rescued only the week before. One older couple decided they would rather stay put, as they believed they would be a burden to the survivors. Through all this, I realized that Paul was nowhere to be found, and I started screaming for him. I tried to run back to look for him, but the shuttle came. The conductor barked at me to get on board. I had no choice, as the building collapsed before me. Tears welled up in my eyes as everything I had ever known was whisked away from me. We took off, and the world itself disappeared. All I had left was the two books I clutched to my chest.

I awoke with a start. It wasn’t until Paul snorted a bit as he turned over that I realized that it was all a dream, that I hadn’t lost him, that our house was safe, that the outside world was still there.

A half hour later, when I turned on the computer and logged into Facebook, every post was about praying for the people in Japan. I opened the NY Times and saw that the worst earthquake to strike Japan in recorded history had struck just off the northern part of the country, and walls of water had swept everything away. Hundreds of people are dead, and at least as many are missing. Devastation.

It’s frightening to think that this was all happening as I dreamed a similar situation.


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