(This is a repeat of a blog that originally appeared in April, 2012)
Several months ago, somewhere between the time my head hit the pillow and my alarm clock shook me out of bed, my husband Bob began twitching and shaking in his sleep. I gently rubbed his arm, with the goal of easing him out of his bad dream without causing him to shout in terror.
"Sweety, are you alright?" I asked soothingly.
He turned to me with a look of confusion on his face before uttering these incomprehensible words, "I have to go to the bathroom but I don't know where it is."
Now, at this point I should explain that we have called our current location "home" for the past eight years. Navigation to and from said bathroom can be accomplished quite easily, even without the aid of a GPS unit. (In point two feet, turn left at the end of the bed, then arrive at destination on right) So when Bob questioned his inability to remember the site of the room where he has read countless novels while sitting on the porcelain throne, I became concerned. Perhaps the early symptoms of dementia had taken hold, threatening to rob my hubby of all of his precious memories.
"Bob, our bathroom is right over there, just where it's always been," I said reassuringly.
He stared at me once again, trying to comprehend the instructions I had just provided. Then, he began to giggle. "Oh," he said, laughing even harder. "I'm dreaming!"
And with that he rolled over, re-positioned the pillows, closed his eyes and promptly returned to his land of nocturnal nonsense.
I should have blamed the dream world immediately, for this certainly cannot be counted as Bob's first night time break with reality. My earliest inkling that deep REM sleep would cause irrational behavior came early on in our marriage, when a bedroom ceiling fan provided some measure of relief during the hot summer months inside our new home. One day, during those dangerous hours between dark and light, Bob woke up in a panic, pointed up and the ceiling fan and yelled for the world to hear...
"THERE'S A HELICOPTER IN THE HOUSE! THERE'S A HELICOPTER IN THE HOUSE!"
After convincing my poor husband that our bedroom did not serve as the opening sequence for M.A.S.H., he fell back asleep. As for me, I lay awake and wondered, did I marry a nutcase? Perhaps. But his nocturnal nonsense seemed harmless at best, and made for good stories to entertain friends and family. Certainly he'd never actually cause harm to himself....or me.....
Or so I thought.
A few months later, we had enjoyed a long, tiring, yet fun-filled day touring the city of Boston. By the time 11 pm rolled around, we more than happily snuggled into our cozy, king-size hotel room bed, hoping to reclaim the energy needed for another day of sightseeing. Suddenly, Bob awakened from a deep sleep, his fist pumped, ready to strike. I rolled over and looked at my mate, a stranger ready to pummel me to pieces. Before I had the chance to run for my life he stopped and said, "Oh wait, I know who you are!"
Saved by the sanity.
The next time I did not fare quite so well.
Seems my prize-fighter of a husband conjured a dream where he entered the ring, about to go up against heavy weight champion Joe Frazier. Only, Joe's body was, in reality, the back of my head. Thankfully I had not been sleeping with my face toward him, for lord only knows what would have become of my nose. He awakened quite startled at the sound of my screaming, wondering why I would cry in the middle of the night, and insisting his target had been Joe, not me.
Now if you ask Bob, he'll insist his nocturnal nonsense pales in comparison to mine, and unfortunately, my 16-year old daughter Melissa can back up his claim.
If I am having a nightmare, it usually involves terror of some sort of another, and an increasingly frustrating inability to actually let out a dream-based scream. Invariably, as I try to call for help, I end up emitting a low, eerie sounding moan, which gradually gets louder and louder as my voice appears to channel dark spirits until finally, an ear-splitting, terrifying scream erupts from the deepest bowels of my body, scaring my husband, daughter, neighbors, the entire population of China, etc., out of their minds.
Melissa will yell, "MOM WAKE UP!"
Bob will grab me and hug me and repeat over and over, "It's only a dream, it's only a dream, it's only a dream."
Unlike Bob, after a troubling nightmare my mind stays alert, rehashing the horror over and over. Whereas he simply rolls over and reenters his slumber, unaware of his antics until I remind him in the morning.
As for Melissa, seems she has not inherited her parents' propensity for nocturnal nonsense and doesn't appreciate when our dreams interrupt her deep sleep.
To her we're just a couple of nocturnal nincompoops. Sounds like the plot of a bad dream where Bob is in a boxing match and I am his opponent and nobody can help me because try as I might, I can't scream... oh no, here we go again...AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!