Hello, Old Friend

I can recall some really important dreams from my earliest life, when I was barely able to walk.

One of them involved a long, long climb up a mountainside, aided by a winged unicorn which came out of a disembodied television screen, to reach a city on an impossibly high plateau, up there amid the stars. At one point, close to the end of the dream, I managed to catch a glimpse of it, at the top of the plateau; and I realised that even though I had climbed as far as I could, I still had an infinite distance to go to reach that place, and that however long I lived, I would never be able to see that plateau again or reach that city.

The other was when I found myself desperate, for some reason, for a really good cup of tea, and Mum said she would get me one. I told Mum when I woke that I was waiting for a cup of tea, and she told me - of course - that it had only been a dream.

There was one time that I tried to fly the way I could in a dream. Sadly, my two-year-old body refused to levitate, no matter how much I wished it to rise up from the ground.

And then there was the first real dream I recall having, when I saw the Grim Reaper leaning over my bed, letting me see his skeletal face, his hollow eyes, and silently caressing my baby head with long, fleshless, bony fingers. I could not describe to Mum what I had experienced, because I had never seen a skeleton or bones before, other than the big bones Dad used to have to feed to the dog. I simply did not have the words.

But much later, on seeing his face, I kept having an odd sense of deja vu; and it was only when I saw the Hammer horror movie The Devil Rides Out for the first time that I realised that I'd seen the Reaper long ago. Before I could identify what bones even were, let alone that what I was looking at was a skeleton.

It's for this reason, and due entirely to this dream, that I'm not even remotely afraid of the Reaper. It's why, every time I see someone draw out the Death card from a Tarot deck, I can be heard to murmur the words "Hello, old friend."

Some people believe in angels, and ask me if I believe in guardian angels myself. I tell them no, because whatever it was that came to visit me in my cot, it was no angel ...

And when it's my time, I do hope he will come for me, the way he did when I was a kid; this time, to take me home. He's no stranger to anybody. But to me, he's family.

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