Thursday, May 17, 2007


We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.—

The Tempest
It’s been a year now since the death of my mother and I’ve noticed something peculiar, or maybe not so peculiar. When my mother was alive, I occasionally dreamt that she was dead. When I awoke, I was greatly relieved to find it was only a dream. I usually found some pretext to call her after such dreams just to see how she was doing. Naturally, I didn’t tell her that I had dreamt that she was dead.

Now, in the past year, I have dreams at least twice a week in which my mother is alive. And of course when I awake there is a great sadness for the obvious reason that reality sets in and I realize, all over again, that my mother is dead.

Now, I’m not saying that the fact that I dream about my mother being alive is some kind of proof that she is alive. But then again, why do we dream such things? Shakespeare’s oft-quoted line, “We are such stuff As dreams are made on…” can be given, and often has been given, a negative interpretation. But I have never viewed the quote in that light. If we are such stuff as dreams are made on and we dream that the dead are alive, how can that be something negative? Yes, a dream can also be a nightmare. But then Prospero is pretty explicit that it is a dream. And he concedes that our ending could be despair, but then bids us look up with that incredible, “unless I be reliev’d by prayer…”

Our dreams and our prayers -- Shakespeare, through Prospero, links them. When viewed in that light, it is very comforting, at least to me, to think that we are such stuff as dreams are made on.

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