Last night was a long night, and unlike months past, it had nothing to do with the little one refusing sleep. Around 4AM, I woke up nearly in tears because of the nightmare I’d just had. It was so vivid and realistic that I’m positive this one is going to haunt me for a few days, if not longer. This was not like nightmares of my childhood that often involved monsters or leprechauns (long story, basically I saw the movie Leprechaun at a very early age and not gonna lie, I still have a little bit of an irrational fear of the creatures because of that creepy, low-budget movie) after which I could wake up and tell myself it wasn’t real. This one was terrifying because it was filled with things that can and have happened.
This is the second dream in a week in which I was terminally ill. It started a few days ago with a dream that I was at a wedding and suddenly couldn’t see or walk straight for no apparent reason, and though it was never directly stated, it was implied that I was not well. In last night’s dream, similarly, I had vision issues but I was also having serious difficulty talking and no one could tell me why. Phillip drove me from doctor to doctor and not a single one had an answer for my sudden loss of motor skills. He helped me onto and off of multiple elevators in various hospitals, tests were run, symptoms were noted, but nothing got better. Towards the end of the dream, I strained to say to the doctor seeing me, “Please help me. I don’t want to die.”
While en route to the last appointment, there was a bombing locally and we didn’t have Ellie (our daughter) with us so I instantly started to panic because we were not safe and I wasn’t sure she was either. I didn’t know where she was, who was watching her, and if they had been affected by the bombing. People were dying all around, violence ensued and I was still dying with no way to protect her from any of it.
Fast forward to real life:
I kept thinking about this terrible dream all morning including while I watched her play. She is so innocent and blissfully unaware of the horrific realities of the world around her, and it crushes me that I won’t be able to protect her from it forever. The kid was not even 24 hours old yet, and the Dallas shooting was plastered all over every news station imaginable as I ate my breakfast from the hospital bed. The NY Times called it, “…the deadliest [attack] for law enforcement officers in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001.”
When I look back on 2016, I don’t have a lot of fond memories aside from the birth of my daughter. The year was peppered with mass shootings, violence, natural disasters, and division nationwide on virtually every major issue. North Korea tested nuclear weapons, ISIS still exists, and racial tension still exists. I am terrified of the world in which my daughter will grow up and all that she will experience along the way.
Just in the last week, there was a major fire in the Smoky Mountains leaving the death toll (so far) at 14 with 130 injured and 17,000 acres of some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen were destroyed in a fire they believe was man-made. Her dad & I hiked through those mountains on our honeymoon and she will never be able to see them the way we did, even if the trees were replanted today. There couldn’t be a more appropriate symbol for 2016 than that.
I don’t want her to live a life full of fear, sorrow, and suffering. I want the world to be a better place for her, one that allows me to sleep at night knowing that she’s safe. My only hope is to raise a child who is genuinely good, who not only cares about the world around her, but does something to change it for the better.
My life was simpler when my nightmares stayed tucked away in my imagination.