The Dream: I am with Mother. Uncle Steve is ill, and we are worried about him. “Who will take care of him?” I ask. Mother chides me for ignoring his condition. I defend myself. “No,” I say, “We have kept in touch, calling him. And Sergie has been keeping every one informed.” I say something to the effect that at Uncle Steve's age (82 in the dream) you couldn't expect him to last much longer. Then I realize that Mother is also in her 80s and that I've made a tactless remark. At the same time I realize that Uncle Steve is dead, has been dead for some time. I start to tell Mother than I know he's dead; I'm trying to persuade her to remember. I embrace Mother, telling her I love her. She says she loves me. As she says she loves me I feel her pulling back emotionally. I realize she is trying to protect herself from these strong feelings. I feel very tender toward her. I recognize that her need to protect herself is the measure of how much she loves me and how vulnerable she is. I am moved to tears by this.
Interpretation: This dream has made an important discovery. With my new understanding of what had appeared to be my mother's coldness I can enlarge the compass of my empathy and understanding. At the same time the dream might be pointing out what's behind my own emotional distance. The tears are a good sign—feelings have broken through.