Bob Russo is one of my best friends. At fifteen we both played on our high school football and lacrosse teams. Often we’d hitch-hike the 10 miles home together after practices or just walk this distance, downing the stuff that makes kids grow- soft drinks, chips or ice creams. It was that summer of my fifteenth year when we decided to work as kitchen help at a camp located near Marlborough Vermont -the year was 1964.

This camp was built around half of a small lake. The other side of this lake had a girl’s camp on it-can it get any better than that? No, it really can’t. This feature matched another link Bob and I had together-girls. You see baseball games weren’t the only times we both were trying to steal bases. Girls had ‘bases’ too and we often keep busy trying to ‘steal’ them as well. The set up here seemed perfect. The only hurdle to getting employed by this camp was our interview for the job, but these questions were easy for us to answer-and we only lied about one of them, just one lie.

‘Back past’ now about eight years to 1956ish and I’m having the time of my life. It’s true Mrs. Rudden (darn you Mrs. Rudden) had called the cops on my brother and me. So what I say? Sure, my brother and me were dressing up like Indians and running around the neighborhood wearing only towels which ‘barely’ covered our ‘privates’? Who cares (besides her)? Hey-Indians certainly didn’t care about that stuff! Anyway, in spite of ol’ snoopy nose, Life was great! Now, where was I?  Here: simply, I was blessed with the ‘best’ Mom. All my friends crowded our house for snacks, games, sandbox adventures, tree climbing and beetle smashing. Why? Our house offered what other homes didn’t: freedom, that’s why. All of us were always free to be the children we were in my house-this made all the difference. So what’s not to like in my Life? Well, it was just a dream, just one dream.

The dream started when I was about eight. I had this dream many times and each time I would wake the next morning clearly remembering it. Funny, I don’t remember ever waking up during it. So if you put another quarter into the blog slot I’ll tell you about the dream-OK, I’ll tell you anyway. First off, the dream is about mountain climbing and to this day I hate heights-just ask my wife about me and movie watching. (I prefer to yodel in the bath tub). I can watch people getting chain sawed, chased by man eating frogs, blended into tomorrows dinner, filleted by swords, caught by the guy waiting in the dark, eaten by fungi, smashed by buildings, cars, trains and Godzilla type feet-none of this bothers or attracts me. But put a guy hanging by his fingers on a building ledge and I start squirming worse than a worm after it’s been run over-it’s bathroom break time for me, time to yodel. I think its ‘The Dream’ coming back doing this: “Doctor, it is just this one dream!”

So in this dream there are two best friends, one is me, mountain climbing in a snow storm. We are both dressed in heavy gear- the whole 18 yards of stuff. We are climbing when it becomes evident we’ve got to bed down for the night. And don’t worry-I’m not going the ‘Brokeback mountain’ way here. We find a ledge; I see the ledge quite clearly in my dream as a narrow, 40 foot long area holding about a 30 degree slope throughout it. The great thing about this ledge is that it is under a cliff like outcropping and due to this feature it is a snow free area. There’s no way, however, we feel comfortable to fall asleep on this ledge without tying on to it somehow. We devise a way to undo one shoe just enough to allow us to curl our toes up and hammer a spike through the shoe into the rock while still wearing the shoe. It’s not comfortable, but we feel safe: each of us feeling safe enough to fall asleep on this snow free ledge while being held fast by our spike driven shoe. But this is not the case; we are not safe.

Still dreaming-the morning comes and I awake to find my climbing buddy gone. Evidently he’d slipped out of his spiked shoe and now was presumably dead, having blown off the slope during the night. His spiked shoe remains as it was when we fell asleep-still spiked into the rock- but now it is empty. The laces on this shoe remain more undone than I had thought they should have been. I see the shoe close up and, then, the dream ends. How many times did I have this dream? I’d say I had this dream 50 or more times. But none of those times did me any good later, many years later.

Fast forward now to a wonderful summer in Vermont as two fifteen year old guys play sports and the ‘field’ of women living across the lake. Then an unexpected thing occurred. Bob had rowed across the lake at night hoping to ‘steal’ one of those female ‘bases’ located in the girls camp when he accidentally slipped off his boat and fell into the lake. Oddly, I’d heard the splash while sitting at the shore line that full moon night. Immediately I ran to get the help I’d heard him call for. Unfortunately, the one lie we had told was that Bob really didn’t swim that well. It took 3 days for divers to find him. My self?- I spent most of that night running through the camp and woods calling Bob’s name. It was about 4 AM that morning when I went to our bunk house and hugged his pillow knowing to expect the worst. But what’s this got to do with the dream I had so often years earlier? This night was my dream; I had just lived my dream.

You see Bob was found under a submerged ledge, stuck beneath it under 40 feet of water. He had one shoe off. His missing shoe, laces undone, was found on top of the same submerged ledge resting less than 20 feet underwater. They guessed he’d tried to take his shoes off in the hopes of being able to swim, but, in this effort, he only managed to get one undone. It took me a couple months after this event to realize what the shoe found on top of the submerged ledge was. This shoe, the one Bob had lost while trying to swim, the one with the laces undone, was the same shoe I found in my dream- the shoe spiked into the ledge next to me in the morning as I awoke in my dream to find my friend gone with nothing but an unlaced shoe left. No, it wasn’t snowing and heavy hiking gear was not a factor in his death, albeit the weight of his clothes certainly was… But snow is frozen water; a sneaker may be another man’s boot. Bob’s shoe laces were undone on just one shoe, undone on the shoe found on the top part of the underwater ledge. And a ledge is just that, be it under the water or high in the sky. But, for all of us, best friends can die in dreams and in real Life. This time, for me, it seems to have happened in both.

Certainly, as a young boy I had a reoccurring dream which now, in retrospect, seems to match many of the ways a best friend of mine did die later on in my Life. If not so, then why did I have this reoccurring dream? This question is ‘key’ to me. I couldn’t ‘shake’ this dream for the longest time during my younger years. This dream kept ‘calling’. Now, I think dreams are shadows, much like silhouettes, of our past, present or future waking hours. The good news is we own our dreams-a tremendous resource for us to hold. We just need ‘dream vision’; we need a way to tap into these ‘silhouettes’ in order to ‘see’ their meanings. And who can write of dreams and not mention Edward Casey, the Titanic or Joseph’s dreams of famine? These are people and events which take dream power to the umpteenth level.

Perhaps, after all, this was just one dream I had. Certainly there was just one lie. But most importantly this is about one best friend. I find no need to think of Bob as dead now, as people say, “Get over it” so you can “Move on” with your Life. I think it more important to “live with it”, so that’s what I do. He’s one of my best friends, still. He’s friends for ‘keeps’. Unfortunately, this dream of mine is for ‘keeps’ as well. It’s just one dream, the dream I lived…

So tell me: what have you been dreaming of lately?

Franque

This post belongs with several others in a ‘Spiritual’ type sub grouping. Please enjoy these other posts as well if you have not already read them:

Spirits in the Night

RED DOG FOREVER

Engines ‘In Tune’-Halloween

Grandma Franque Saves the Day(with help)!