Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dead Classmate Stimulates Weird Dreams

I had a reoccurring dream about Marilyn Foley, a girl I knew in high school. Marilyn was killed in a car crash shortly before she was to marry a well-known disc jockey in the Phoenix area. I had moved out of state and was unaware of her death until I attended my first high school reunion many years ago. They tell me she was buried in her wedding dress.

In my dream Marilyn is joining me and another friend for lunch. She looks and acts very much alive, but both my friend and I know she is dead. We invite her to a party, which she declines, but we decide to maintain the friendship for as long as she decides to hang out with us. I tell my friend that Marilyn needs our compassion and friendship, in spite of her disadvantage of no longer being among the living.

In real life, Marilyn had a lot going for her. She was pretty and very athletic. We were both on the Westwood High School volleyball team. Even though we were both the same height (5 foot 1 inch) Marilyn could jump up and spike the ball. She would do a Michael Jordan-style vertical leap, smack or block the ball, then fall to the ground. In the blink of an eye she was back on her feet, ready for more action.

One would think that her skill, beauty and drive would have made her a very popular girl. Certainly the boys liked her. She was gorgeous and full of life. I admired her athletic prowess and determination. Ironically, that is one of the things my female schoolmates used as ammunition to fling furtive insults. They called her a tomboy, or jock, behind her back, in spite of the fact that she looked more like Marilyn Monroe than Billie Jean King.

She was always impeccably dressed and groomed. Maybe they scorned her because she chose volleyball and the Girls Athletic Club over cheer leading. Most likely their issue was that old green-eyed monster, envy.

Anyway, even though I can’t say Marilyn and I hung out socially off the volleyball court, I did like her and thought she was a nice gal. I also remember thinking how cruel the so-called popular girls were toward her. If I hadn’t married and moved out of state immediately after graduation, I often mused that Marilyn and I could be friends.

It seemed a bit odd that I would dream about my deceased classmate some 40 years after graduation. At first I didn’t think too much about it except to include her in the prayer for the deceased that I offer every morning and evening.

But last night I dreamed about her again.

The dream was similar to the first one, but when I awoke I had the strong feeling that I needed to encourage others to show more compassion toward humankind – whether they be living souls or unforgiving memories of the dead.

“Sally, it was just a dream. Get over it,” you may be thinking.

But I beg to differ. I believe dreams can provide powerful insights into our souls. But you don’t have to take my word for it. The same idea is expressed beautifully in this quote I found by Jean Shinoda Bolen.

“Insights from myth, dreams, and intuitions, from glimpses of an invisible reality, and from perennial human wisdom provide us with hints and guesses about the meaning of life and what we are here for. Prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action are the means through which we grow and find meaning.”

Also, my internal nag may have been reminding me I hadn’t written a blog posting for a while. When I dreamed of Marilyn a second time I thought, perhaps she was coming to mind so I would write about a topic that would be helpful to my readers.

What is unique about Marilyn is she is not the typical person who comes to mind when we think of being compassionate toward others. She had a lot going for her. At least she seemed to from outward appearances.

However, no one really knows what inward struggles others face, even when everything seems hunky dory on the outside. Here was a girl who seemed to have so much, beauty, health, the approving eye of all the straight boys in the school (and probably the latent lesbians as well) yet, she was ostracized by many of her female classmates. After high school graduation she found love, and her life was cut short due to an automobile accident. In retrospect, it seems everything ended for Marilyn before she had the opportunity to come into her own.

I’m not 100 percent sure why I’ve had two dreams about Marilyn Foley in the past week. However, if something in this short blog encourages someone to show compassion to someone in spite of what seems like favorable circumstances, than perhaps I’ve done my job.

If not, I’ll bounce back and examine the question of my nocturnal message from my fellow Westwood High School teammate until I’m satisfied that I have it right.

Ironically, as I was searching for a quote to end this piece, I came across the ditty from Seth Godin. It came at a perfect time as I had been questioning my own ability and lack of material success as a writer. Thanks to Mr. Godin – via Marilyn – I have the determination to start anew.

“The real shortage we face is dreams, and the wherewithal and the will to make them come true.”