Before Atlas died I’d suffer from recurring nightmares during times of stress: Atlas would be off leash and running away from me across busy roads.  Sometimes he would be hit by a car in front of me; other times there was just the constant threat, but the stress of the inevitable event woke me up before it actually happened. Thankfully, Atlas didn’t get hit by a car in real life. One of my worst fears never happened, so I thought I’d be done with it.  Unfortunately this was not the case- at least the dream isn’t as common anymore.

I’ve dreamed of Atlas many times since he’s been gone. Many have been good ones. On two occasions it was such a sensory experience I swore I really got to touch him. I woke up feeling calmer.  Last night’s was not one of those, however. In some ways it is the new version of my bad dreams.  Atlas is there, but far away.  It’s as if he can’t hear me either, because he won’t respond when I yell “come” and something prevents me from reaching him. I wake up filled with sadness and longing.  I guess it’s my mind trying to accept my new reality. But I hate it.

In another one I had about a month ago I discovered a new door in our house.  I couldn’t believe I had never seen it before, so I opened it to see what was there.  There was a small dark room with only two things in it: a Christmas tree and Atlas lying on the floor.  He got up and greeted me when I came in, and I remember thinking, this is where you’ve been this whole time?  I felt bad I had left him in such a dark place and had not found him earlier.  I was also a bit upset with him that he had stayed there and not looked for me.  It was a curious thing that there was a Christmas tree.  My family growing up would be able to tell you how much Christmas used to mean to me.  It hasn’t evoked any special feeling for a long time though.  We didn’t even bother decorating this year.  Why was there a tree and Atlas?  Were these two things I had loved that were lost to me forever?  Precious treasures of my past?

I haven’t been back to that room in my dreams.  I don’t want Atlas to stay there.  If I have to relegate him to some compartment in my mind, let it be somewhere with more light and beauty. Somewhere with no roads or cars.  Even if I can only watch him from a distance, let him be safe and free.


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