I dreamed a bear came to my window. It was dark; his teeth were the first thing I saw, only making out bear’s huge outline after. He first appeared at my bedroom window (south), then my front porch window (west). Last he came to look in my kitchen window (east) and was gone, leaving, I felt but did not see, from the north.
I know the science behind dreaming, but, “There is no cognitive state that has been as extensively studied and yet as misunderstood as much as dreaming.” I dream and know my brain is processing events into memory. I dream and know it’s trying to work through thoughts and feelings I’m struggling with. I dream and know my inner storyteller is at work. And then there are those dreams that seem like more. Maybe I just want them to be, but It’s my brain; I get to decide.
This dream felt like more.
I’ve read several “meanings” for bear, and they all differ slightly, but the gist is strength, leadership, and taking conscious control of your future. It’s powerful symbolism that could well fit with my life right now. But that’s really secondary to the fact that Bear is also Chris.
He always associated with bears. He was a big guy, often misunderstood. He once wrote a story about a grizzly bear who befriended all the little animals being picked on by the bigger ones. In it, the grizzly was sad because, though he loved the little animals, he wanted to be friends with everyone else, too. He didn’t want anyone to be scared of him, not even the bullies.
Christofer’s little boy love of bears morphed into aspirations of being a biologist studying bears in the wild. It was his whole life. After the accident, it was his impetus to regain the use of his leg. He worked so hard. He endured so much pain. The leg just wouldn’t mend. But he didn’t give up. We took him for a college visit his junior year in high school–Paul Smith’s College up in NY State, his goal still intact. Once there, he had to face the fact that his dream was well and truly done. Getting to his “classrooms” required several mile hikes over rough terrain. He had enough trouble getting from class to class in high school to know it wasn’t happening. He had to let it go.
But his love of bears never quit. When he started working Girl Scout Camp (archery), he chose the name Grizzly for his camp name. He had a bear paw tattooed on his biceps. When I asked him to choose a charm for my bracelet to represent him, it was, of course, a bear.
So naturally, the bear in my dream was Christofer. I’ve said before that sometimes I dream of him and it’s just a dream, other times it feels more like a visit. That he came to windows south, east and west felt significant, but I had no idea what that significance could be. It dogged me all day. Finally, I wrote to my friend, a biologist with a witch’s soul, and asked her if she had any insight.
As some reading this might recall, the dollbabies use Medicine Cards every year as a tool to ground us in the week. I won’t go into all that, but it’s pertinent to the response my friend sent. This is what she responded:
SOUTH: “The South is the Path of Trust and Innocence and is sometimes referred to as the Way of the Child – the part of us that can establish relationships through faith, trust, and innocence….The South is the direction to help you see things in clear detail and to begin to perceive your own nature….In the South you are going to rid yourself of the encumbrances that obscure your true self and prevent you from seeing your own self in its true light.”
WEST: “…the emphasis of the West is on change and transition. It is also where we have to face the truth about Death, and to recognize that every change is the death of what has gone before. Death is a transition to that which is a new beginning….[in the West] we can prepare for renewal.”
EAST: “When the adventurer comes to the East, a realization begins to dawn – the realization that living is meant to be enjoyed, not suffered or endured. Life is intended to be pleasurable….East is the direction of fresh, vibrant energy – the kind that can seemingly work miracles. It is the place for undergoing self-renewal…”
(From The Medicine Way by Kenneth Meadows)
I responded back to her:
That the bear appeared first South (trust, innocence, the way of the child etc) feels, to me, like Chris was announcing himself, telling me, “MOM! It’s me!” Big and strong and fierce, but still his sweet self. That was ever Chris. Fearsome to behold, all mush inside. But he was outside (in all sightings), telling me that the barrier between where he is and where I am is flimsy, but impassable.
Bear next appeared West. Change, transition. This speaks to both recent events in my life as well as bear’s opinion of it. Like he was saying, “Mom! It’s me!” he’s also saying, “Mom, I’m dead. You have to accept that.” It’s time to accept his death, and that holding on to the past is only holding us BOTH back.
Bear then moves East. Living is meant to be enjoyed. Renewal. Joy. And that it is also my kitchen–the heart of my home–speaks volumes.
But Bear left North open, and I feel that’s the direction he chose to go. I’m curious to know what North means, within this same cannon.
Her response back to me:
“In the North we ‘stop the world,’ we silence the chatter and confusion of the airwaves all around us and come into harmony with the creation from which we have been isolated…[the North] is also a place of Purification and Renewal in preparation for new beginnings – for ‘rebirth.'”
There is so much more within those meanings, and my dream. We dream, and those we remember, we interpret–or let go. I choose not to let this go. Not when it speaks to me so brilliantly. Silencing the chatter and confusion was everything Chris strove for those last years of his too-short life. To be one with everything, like the grizzly bear from his story. Bear went north to his new beginning free from those things that cost him this life, here, with his family. It’s time to move on. We both know that. But I’ve been clinging so hard to things, to a way of life, to a home, to him. It’s all encompassing, the imprint he’s left, that imprint I make bigger and bigger every day. It has come to a point that there isn’t an inch of this house, this yard, I don’t associate with him. Four of our children lived here, made this home–and yet I’m having a hard time recalling memories of them. They’ve become secondary characters in this story of our life in the log house, on the river, in the mountains. How many kinds of wrong is that?
Bear came to me, from all directions but north, because that is where he was going. “I have to go, Mama, and you can’t follow here.” Bear gave me permission to let go of all I have been clinging to, to make my own way out of the crushing grief that has been burying me without me noticing. I don’t care if it sounds silly, I believe it with all my heart.