Thank you for writing. I’m sure this did scare you! Some dreams are like epic dramas. They feel so very, very real.
There are dozens of books about dreams that suggest concrete meaning for various images that occur in people’s dreams. They make for interesting reading but they aren’t helpful. Why? For the simple reason that different images have different meaning depending on a person’s culture, life experience, and current situation. In white middle American culture, for example, the color white generally means innocence or purity. But in China it can symbolize misfortune or mourning. A blank computer screen for one person might symbolize a fresh start or endless possibilities. For another person, it could mean blank despair.
As an American, you are currently being inundated by news stories of mass shootings, including the shooting of children. My guess is that it is making you more anxious than you realize. You may be able to bury your anxiety during the day when the busyness of taking care of your own children is distracting. But when you are asleep, the censor that operates during the day shuts down. All that anxiety gets funneled into the “what ifs” that you put in the back of your mind during the day.
What your dream is telling you is that you are frightened, which to me means that you are paying attention. Shootings are happening in malls, in churches, at concerts. Sandy Hook, where twenty 6-year-olds were gunned down in school, reverberates in every mother’s subconscious. Where are our children safe? Where are we safe? How do we protect our kids and ourselves without living in constant fear?
I think your image of sitting on the bench with snacks was your attempt to answer the question. You were trying to keep things ordinary when tragedy was happening. I think the fact that your children were “up the road” was your way to tell yourself that maybe you could keep them safe even if you and their father were shot.
In short: Your dream makes perfect sense to me. It wasn’t just a horror story. It was a visual presentation (as all dreams are) of your fears and hopes.
I wish you well.