i’ve always found it strange how dreams come to us, and then just as quickly, if you don’t write them down upon awakening, they are snatched away by some invisible sleep-god… and you never get to wonder about them and what they might have meant.
last night i was lucky. kind of. i awoke in the middle of the night, in a sweat, crying and babbling incoherently even to my own ears.
the dream was still fresh, vivid, and i still felt as if i’d been drowning. i still felt the tension in my shoulders, jaws tight with clenching my teeth together, and had to remind myself that i was safe in my own waveless waterbed, in my favorite t-shirt [courtesy of dad’s undershirt collection heh heh], and was not drowning in a flood of the Missouri River with my parents drowning a few feet from me.
i remember, moments after waking up, thinking that i really should write the dream down for details.
“Nah,” i told myself then, “if it’s this vivid now it will definitely be this vivid later”. wrong.
i went back to sleep, relatively restful, then awoke again with a start right before the alarm clock started clanging.
the dream was still with me, vaguely.
we were in the missouri river, which i’ve written about with near-reverence before, but this time the river was not for mortal appreciation. dad and i were holding onto something, together, perhaps a piece of driftwood, and both found our grasps weakening. we were shouting at each other over the roar of the water in our ears and mouths to hold on, to stay strong, all the usual words of encouragement when crisis strikes.
suddenly my arms weakened and i felt myself slipping away from dad, slowly at first, and then very very quickly saw him disappearing as i was swept away downstream.
[reality check: we’re both in the same river, but i’m moving sooooo much faster just because i don’t have a flotation device? hmmmmmmmmmmmmm, muy interesante. no one said dreams have to be logical.]
just as i started to feel like giving up, felt myself slipping under and almost calmly resigned to the fate of disappearing under the water, i heard dad’s voice calling, “grab your mother!”
quick change of pace. suddenly i’m strong again, able to kick and swim, and see my mom holding onto some sort of net which is suspended above the water. [what the heck is that supposed to be??]
she sees me coming and calls out to me, and extends an arm which i just barely manage to grab onto and then i’m with her, clinging to this net with her, safe.
fast forward to all three of us; mom, dad, and me, safe on land. we are in this barren place which is very dry, strangely enough, and there is devastation everywhere. everywhere i turn i see people dead, injured, crying, their clothing and spirits torn, and i feel happy just to be alive still.
still, i ache with the terror we’ve just been through, and for some reason feel like it’s not over yet.
i see a little boy, a toddler, wandering alone in the dust. he is bare except for a soggy diaper. he has that look of someone who has survived the worst and isn’t sure if he is alive or dead. he has brown ringlets of hair and wide brown eyes, still innocent but already so wise.
i come to the little boy, quickly kneel down next to him. we stare at each other for a moment. i hold out my hand and he gives me his. i say, “what is your name?”
he says, with a lisp, “christopher.”
“hi christopher,” i say, “where are your parents?” for some reason i’m fighting back tears, but don’t know why.
he points to a mostly-burned house. i don’t have to go inside to know that his parents will not be coming out again.
“would you like to come with me?” i ask him.
he nods. i scoop him up, for some reason feeling half elated and half devastated, and find tears streaming down my face, and sobs rising within me.
we walk slowly to where my parents are still standing, seemingly having frozen in time during the time it’s taken me to meet christopher. they snap back to reality. i introduce them to christopher, and we walk away together.
for some reason it was that dream which made me awake in such distress. i wonder why.