I met a dead man in a dream a few nights ago. I don’t know who he is, but I have a feeling I’ll meet him when I die.
I’ve had death on my mind a lot recently. I’d like to say that I don’t know why, but that’s not entirely true. I’ve had death on my mind because I’m afraid of dying — and there’s a growing part of me that fears death could be closer than I think.
I’ve never wanted to die, but I’ve always believed I had many decades yet to live. Lately, though, I’ve felt a horrible, gnawing fear of imminent death. This terrifies me, because I don’t want to die. I haven’t lived yet.
I don’t know who the dead man was, but I know he went to a lot of trouble to find me. He somehow asked me to come to a small place — a room which seemed like the waiting room of an old railway station — which was the only place where the dead and the living could talk.
I don’t know how to explain the place. It was a building that was at the very edge of the world of the living. On the other side was the world of the dead. Both the living and the dead could enter that waiting room to speak with one another, but neither group could cross over to the other side.
It was just this one tiny place where the dead and the living could exist at the same time. Maybe there were other such places. Maybe not. I just knew that this man had somehow called me to this room.
I didn’t know where I was going before I got there. I was following my instincts. I knew something was drawing me to the place that I’d never heard of and certainly had never seen. I walked there. As soon as I saw the modest building — which reminded me of a small-town railway depot from a hundred years ago — I knew someone was meeting me inside.
I stepped through the door. Inside, I found pairs of people sitting around the room — always pairs, never groups, never singles — talking quietly in serious tones.
And then I saw one lone man standing on the other side. He looked directly at me — and I knew he was the one who had asked me to come.
He never told me his name. At least, I don’t recall that he did. I can’t remember a lot of what he had to say. It was all a blur, but it all felt meaningful. I can’t tell you much about what he looked like, but he looked like any other normal man. About 45 years old. Casually dressed, like the sort of person who’d rather be in jeans than a suit or tie.
He told me we didn’t have long. I asked him whether that meant the time we had in this room was limited.
“I’m not allowed to stay here very long,” he said, “and your time to stay out there…” — he pointed to the world of the living, from which I’d come — “…is more limited than you might think. It ended for me far sooner than I ever thought it would. You can’t count on anything when you’re alive.”
He didn’t waste time. He told me he had asked me there because he wanted my help, but he told me I needed help, too, even if I didn’t realize it yet.
“There’s someone out there who I want you to take care of,” he said.
Without any preliminaries — such as her name or her connection to him — the man started explaining why this woman needed my help. He was vague about a lot, but he claimed she would die without intervention. He wouldn’t explain why it should be me to help her.
Then he told me that I was in danger and needed help more than I could possibly know.
“Unless you make changes in your life, you’re going to join me over here way sooner than you ought to,” he said. “And if you do that, you can’t help her.”
He wouldn’t explain that, but he told me that’s why I’ve been thinking so much about death. He told me it was a premonition, but it didn’t have to go that way — if I made changes in my life.
I asked him where I would find this woman and what help I was supposed to give her.
“Your heart knows,” he said. “I can’t tell you. I’m not allowed to say that much, but if you don’t already know, you’ll know when the time is right.”
He reminded me of a time in my past when I almost chose to marry a woman but couldn’t make the commitment. He told me I was going to face another moment of decision like that.
“Make the right decision this time,” he said. “Save yourself — and help me save someone who I love more than I loved my own life over there. You two can save each other.”
He told me to trust myself and do what I knew was right.
“Son, I’m not allowed to enter your world and save her myself,” he said. “If I could do that, I’d give up my very existence to save her from herself. I don’t have much hope in you, but you’re the best I have. I’m begging you not to mess this up. It means too much to me.”
And then we were leaving without warning. I was walking out the door on the way back to the world of the living. From the other side of the room — where he was about to go out the opposite door to the world of the dead — he called out to me once more.
“When you get over to my side, I’ll explain everything I wish I could tell you now,” he said. “Make sure she knows I love her!”
When I stepped outside, I was back in normal space. When I looked behind me, the building was gone. If it was there, I couldn’t find it. Either way, I had already been given all I could get from this ghostly encounter.
I don’t know why I dreamed that. In my heart, I think it was more than a dream, but I can’t prove that. I don’t know what this kind and loving man wants me to do. I don’t know who he wants me to help.
For the last couple of days, I haven’t felt like myself. My thinking has been fuzzy and lethargic. I’ve been forgetful. I don’t feel good in some undefined way. I feel so exhausted — in a deep down way in my soul — that I almost feel as though I’m going to just go to sleep and never wake up.
And such thoughts scare me — because I don’t want to die.
I’m not ready. I don’t like my life as it is now. It’s not a life that feels worth living, at least when I think about it tonight. But maybe it can be different. I don’t know how.
I feel beaten down. Emotionally exhausted. Spiritually tired. Physically weak. I don’t have much of the hope that has sustained me so well in the past. I don’t want to live this way.
I believe I’ll meet this dead man again once I’ve died. Then I’ll know who he is. I’ll know all the things he couldn’t tell me. Even though he doesn’t seem to have much hope that I can save this woman who he loves, I hope I can surprise him.
And if I save her, maybe I can save myself, too. It’s a crazy notion — and maybe it’s just a crazy dream from a crazy man’s unconscious — but having some hope in that is better than just waiting for death.