If you’re a softy like me when it comes to family and children, I’d advise you to skip this post.
When I dream my brain goes to some crazy places. Most of the time I can trace back the epic stories to some catalyst during the day. When I did Walking Dead binges my dreams would start off with some predictable zombie scenario but then spin out into these crazy places. But almost always I can pin point the inspiration.
The few times I can’t are usually the nightmares. Unlike the epic adventures, these almost seem to stem from some otherworldly influence. Some dark force creeps into the room and implants the seeds of those bottomless dreams. Corridors of horror that only lead to more corridors, endless doors into the blackest of the black.
Last night was one of those.
Somewhere in the middle of the night my dream shifted. (In the dream) I’d found out a few days prior that Cat’s daughter, we’ll call her Melissa, had died. It was an accident of some sort, though details were never talked about. I flew half way around the world to be with my daughter and the family.
Melissa is three years old, an angelic miscreant with the energy of a greyhound. A wonderful troublemaker. I’ve known her since the week she was born. While Cat and family lived here I was at their house several times a week and frequently babysat for them. Everyone used to joke that I was the baby whisperer because Melissa wouldn’t fall asleep with her dad holding her and only infrequently with Cat, but in my arms she’d relax immediately.
As she got older she called me Uncle and always remembered me, loved it when I came over. Still does. As far as us adults are concerned, we’re all “family” and treat all the kids and adults equally. She occupies a unique place for me, somewhere between daughter and niece. As close to my own child as possible without being direct blood.
(In the dream) I arrived and was immersed in this oppressive sense of loss. My daughter was excited to see me but this pall hung over everything. The life had been sucked out of everyone. I felt it myself, the gut wrenching loss.
The little one, gone. Forever. That little mischievous grin never to flash again while pocketing chocolates and evading capture.
It’s hard to describe the physical sense of loss that I felt, even though I was dreaming.
Cat was the most affected, a shadow of herself, barely able to move without breaking into sobs.
I went up to her and told her that I had only one question then I’d leave her to grieve in peace. Back home I had a box ready to send the girls, a regular thing I do for them while they are so far away. I asked Cat if she wanted to me to take out the toys and clothes I’d included for Melissa before sending the box when I got back.
She thought about it for a moment, teary eyed, then told me to send it as is. In my dream thinking that was the right decision, she could open the box and look through everything, imagining the joy that Melissa would have gotten out of it. The little one loved sweets and had a knack for stealing them, I always made sure to include plenty in the boxes. A pleasant though, pleasant memories.
I woke in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, my gut in knots.
I could feel that overwhelming emotional whirlpool swirling all around my consciousness. I was terrified to go back to sleep because I knew I’d get sucked right back into it. The rest of the night was spent tossing and turning.
The dream was so vivid, so visceral, so real that this morning I actually had to check Cat’s Facebook page just to make sure that nothing had happened the night before. They were fine, they all were, but the memories and feelings were slow to dissipate, like a headache that won’t quite go away.
As far as I can tell there were no reasons for the dream, no weird catalysts, nothing out of the ordinary had happened the day before. I hadn’t even thought about Cat and family that day, I’d been busy with work. Something crept into my bedroom and twisted the dreams all up into something dark and painful.
All day today I’ve been having PTSD-like flashbacks to go with the day long headache from the lack of sleep.
She’s fine. The whole family is fine. Yet, somehow the nightmare lingers, memories of pain and loss. Terrible.
Thankfully, the ones that bad are infrequent. I’ve only had a couple I remember in my lifetime that rivaled it. So hopefully, hopefully tonight won’t be so bad. Maybe I should burn some sage just to be safe.