The Black Car
Am I Ready for the Black Car?
About a month ago, I had a dream early in the morning, between 5:30 and 6:00. I know the time because I had moved from the spare bedroom to the king-sized bed I sometimes share with my husband. He snored very loudly and I had left for the night. When I heard him get up at 5:30, I went back to our room and curled up in the big bed.
The dream didn't last long but seemed packed with symbolism and "messages." I've since shared it with my lucid dreaming group. Several members of the group had ideas about the meaning. Of course, our dreams are meant for us and I have my own thoughts about what the message was and what the symbols represented. .
The dream was short and began with me walking down a country road. As I walked, I approached a larger, more heavily traveled road. Just at the intersection of the two roads, a car stopped. It was an old car, not quite as old as a Model T but almost that old. It was black and I don't remember anything else about it. As it pulled up, the passenger-side door opened. Behind the wheel of the car sat a man dressed in black pants and a white shirt. He looked a bit like Anthony Hopkins in the movie Joe Black.
Although I don't remember him speaking, I remember that he was trying to persuade me to get in the car and go with him. He was very persuasive and also seemed very impatient, but I kept telling him over and over that I was too afraid to go with him. I remember that I felt a bit guilty about not getting in the car with him, and kept telling him repeatedly that I was sorry I couldn't go, but I was afraid.
After this went on for what seemed like only seconds, the door closed and he left. I don't remember him closing it. It just closed.
The Grim Reaper?
Discovering the meaning of this dream seemed very important to me the morning I had it. It's interesting to me that the people who translated it seemed very attached to their take on the dream and had no patience with anyone who had a different idea, even me! I thought that in itself made it an interesting dream because it seemed to evoke so much emotion. I must make it clear here that during the dream, although I said several times that I was afraid to go with the man, I never felt anything akin to fear, never felt any emotion at all, actually, except an admiration/affection of some sort for the driver of the old car.
The facts surrounding the dream are very telling and I will list them now. The road is the road I grew up on in rural Arkansas. It is paved, not gravel, but is not a "major" road and has very little traffic. The larger road that it intersected with is a major road and does have considerable traffic. Both roads are still there and have not changed since the time I lived there 50 years ago.
I had a neighbor whose last name was Kaughman who used to drive to the "beer joint," as my parents called it, at least two times a day. I remember as a child that he always waved at me on his way there and on his way back. He became considerably happier as the day progressed. His car was exactly like the car in the dream, a very old black car. However, he looked nothing like the man in the car.
Several people have asked me what Anthony Hopkins represents to me. The answer is nothing. I believe his presence had more to do with the movie Joe Black, a movie about death and the grim reaper, played by Brad Pitt. I would have preferred Brad Pitt in the car.
Could Have Taken a Different Road
Naturally, after sharing the dream, I have had numerous interpretations of it from the group and from a couple of friends. The most obvious one, of course, is that it's a death dream, that Hopkins is the reaper and has come for me and I'm not ready to go. One person did make a funny point about my neighbor's name, Kaughman, who drove the car during my childhood sounding like coffin. The whole idea is that death came calling in an old black car. The grim reaper opened the door and invited me to go along. However, I was too afraid and kept saying that over and over, and the reaper and death went on their way.
And there were more and varied interpretations besides the death one. And here's mine. One thing I do remember is my own thoughts during the dream. I remember "sizing up" the strength of the driver, thinking that he wasn't strong enough to take me if I didn't want to go. I remember thinking that I couldn't let myself get pulled into that car, no matter what. I picked up on the impatience of the man, that he wanted me to either get in or he was leaving. It was almost like this is your chance; get in if you're coming. When I didn't oblige, he went away.
Back in September, I had the first serious health challenge I've ever had, an episode of atrial fibrillation. By the time I got to the ER, my heart was beating 170 times a minute. The nurses didn't recognize what was wrong and thought I was having a heart attack, as I did. When the doctor got there, he explained atrial fibrillation, and I was fine. I haven't had another episode since.
I think that was probably the first time I had ever considered dying in a serious way. At almost 70, of course, I've thought about it, but that episode gave me the mechanism to get there! I think the dream was my subconscious saying you're getting closer to the end of the road (of life). And I think I was asking my own subconscious how badly I wanted to continue to live. I realized during the dream when I was sizing up the driver and was so sure I could hold my own and he couldn't take me: I am far from done. I could feel all sorts of strength and determination surging through me. Who knows exactly what the dream meant, but I tend to think it was just a reminder to make the most of life, which I plan to continue to do.
Other Stories by marsei
- AIDS Volunteerism Part V, My Last Buddy, Treme
This is the story of my experiences with the last buddy I was assigned to before I stopped being a volunteer with people with AIDS altogether. I worked as a buddy to these men during the 1980s.
- AIDS Volunteerism: Part IV
This is the fourth of a series of five articles I am writing about my work with people with AIDS during the late 1980s. Jeremiah was my fourth assignment. He became a dear friend, who was kind and funny and protective in an odd kind of way.
- AIDS Volunteerism: Part II
Ritche was the second man I was assigned to during the time I worked as a volunteer providing support to people with AIDS. Blaine, the first man I worked with was a gentle soul and had made peace with the world and with his dying. Ritchie was another