Nov 15, 2023

One night I had a dream unlike any I’d ever had before. In it, I felt a strange, acute mental anguish that was entirely different from any conscious feeling I’d ever experienced. In the dream, I went to my grandmother, who was deceased, and asked, “Someone else in the family has died, haven’t they? Is it Uncle Rob?” She shook her head. “Is it Uncle Bill?” She nodded.

When I woke up in the morning and remembered the dream, I was nonplussed and a little alarmed. I was confident at the time that dreams were always and only reflections of one’s personal unconscious, and, given that I was enjoying my life, I was troubled to think that undiscovered traumatic memories might be lurking beneath my awareness.

Two days later I got a call from my mother. My uncle Bill, who wore a brace because of the polio he’d contracted as a young man, had had a catastrophic fall in the bathtub and had spent the night in the intensive care unit of a hospital, fighting for his life. His accident happened the night of my dream—and though he survived, the experience was a revelation to me. My father had always regarded ESP as preposterous, and I’d never questioned his certitude. But now I had what surely was incontrovertible proof that he was wrong. Somehow, that night I’d tuned in to some of my uncle’s anguish. How could anyone possibly argue that my dream and my uncle’s fall were coincidental? The odds were vanishingly small.

Though I knew my experience would never convince my father, it changed my conception of reality.