The Dream

Romeo – “I dreamt a dream tonight.”
Mercutio – “And so did I.”
Romeo – “Well, what was yours?”
Mercutio – “That dreamers often lie.”

Mercutio didn’t know what he was talking about. I dreamt a dream, too, when I’d fallen asleep on the sofa. In my dream, my house was crying. Water was pouring down the inside walls in streams of tears. Tears that started in the attic and disappeared into the basement. Tears that began ripping apart the inside of the house. Walls were peeling. Cabinets were sagging from the ceilings. Photos and mementos were melting and washing away with the tears. Amid the chaos, I was frantically calling everyone I knew, becoming more and more unraveled as each phone call ended the same way – no one knew who could help me stop the destruction. The exterior of the house remained intact, a façade in every sense of the word, its yellow paint smiling in the sun, a bright mask for the turmoil inside. But the sun wasn’t coming through the windows. The interior buckled under the weight of the tears. It sagged and folded inward. With the phone in my hand, I watched the demolition. The tears ravaged my home, eradicating my past, swallowing up my present, annihilating my future, drowning my dreams. And there was no one left to call. I was scared, hurt, angry and desperate. I woke up scared, hurt, angry and desperate. I’m still scared, hurt, angry and desperate.

That’s why my dogs dialed 911 one day when I wasn’t home. No, really. They used my new cordless phone. They were pleased with the response they got. Four police officers and three firefighters forced open the door to visit with them – and search for me – when the police dispatcher was not able to get through on the phone. I found the slightly chewed and fairly slimy phone on the floor near the dog beds. The line was still open. My brother thinks they wanted me to come home so they called the shop. I think they were practicing. They wanted to know how long it would take to get someone to make their lunch if I didn’t get off the sofa to do it.

They knew what I haven’t wanted to admit. That after months of feeling depressed, I have officially made the jump to actually being depressed. And they were worried because their food is behind a closed door.

They knew something was going wrong. They’d heard me whisper the words when I thought they weren’t listening. Words like sad, grieving, and empty. They hear me say that I feel like I am outside my body when people insist that a forced retirement at the age of 37 is a fresh start. They see me taking sleeping pills or drinking wine before bed. They hear me grind my teeth when I finally fall asleep. They watch me make dinners that I leave on the counter after one bite. They feel the frustration when I snap at them for no reason. They see me cringe whenever the word “disabled” is tossed around as though it were harmless. They understand that I have the best intentions when I get up, take a shower, then lose interest in the day and go back to bed. They listen to the messages that friends leave on my machine when I don’t bother to answer the phone. They know that I feel detached from everything, including the pains in my head and my chest but they follow me when I go to the medicine cabinet for relief. Then they follow me again when I wander through the house looking for comfort in the things that used to make me smile. They follow me back to the sofa when I find none. And they stay in the room with me when I sit in silence. They watch me do nothing, and, in a show of camaraderie, they do nothing.

Except when I cry. When I cry - even silently - 12 year old Kevvie lifts her head. She doesn’t hear it, she feels it, and it rouses her from a deep, old-dog sleep. With great effort, she hauls her big, old-dog body onto her failing hips, then limps across the floor to sit beside me and rest her head on my leg. She comforts me with her compassion. Three year old Ripley also feels it. She abandons her feet-wiggling dreams of wily squirrels and tasty moles to jump onto the sofa beside me. She rests her head on my other leg. Her effort is as strenuous as Kevvie’s. She struggles to keep every muscle of her body still while she gazes up at my face. She knows this is the only way to send the healing vibrations of her wagging stub directly to me. She comforts me with her clowning.

They don’t care whether I’m a cop or not. They both reach up with long pink tongues to take away my tears. They stay after I stop crying. They stay until I shoo them away.

I don’t deserve this love. Or do I?

Romeo – “Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace, thou talk’st of nothing.”
Mercutio – “True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle mind.”

Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at

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