I don't remember dreams much. Especially as a child. I'm sure I had dreams but I only remember two of them. The first one was about being chased by a tornado. The second one was about flying through the halls of my middle school. Both contained elements of fear and joy, and played over and over throughout my childhood and young adulthood.
Now that I'm a mom, most of my nightmares revolve around just one thing - the loss of my child.
There are nights I wake up, unable to breathe for fear that the unthinkable has happened. I sit up in bed, heart racing, gasping for breath until I recognize my surroundings.
When he was so very young, it was crib death. Dreaming of going to get him up from a nap and finding him blue and cold. Or an illness so fiery and virile that it takes him in a flash before I can do anything to help him.
As he got older, he was hit by cars, bitten by snakes, fell off high places, attacked by animals or dropped during some daring rescue or another... all as I watched helplessly from wherever I was.
The more mobile he got, the more varied the dangers that came at him in my sleep. He was snatched from my front yard, hit by a car while riding his bike, wandered off and got hopelessly lost, perishing from exposure in one way or another.
The lastest threat may be one of the scariest.
My boy is so sweet. He has a kind and gentle soul - the kind that draws the attention of less than kind kids. We've actually had bullying issues in the past. That was at the root of his 6 months of not eating a few years ago. It was what prompted my whole family to take up martial arts to learn the art of self defense. And the new confidence along with some counseling got us over that hump. The next two years saw new friends and an ease in school that was missing that third grade year.
But this year, he's back to being among the youngest now that he's in middle school. And bullying has raised its ugly head again, this time from an unlikely and unanticipated source. A kid he considered a friend right up until the second week of school began avoiding him, hanging out with other kids and calling him names like "stupid" and "weirdo." His self-confidence plummeted. His grades dropped. He's actually failing everything but one class. It's so worrisome.
Add to this, all the news about kids killing themselves over bullying in one form or another. My new nightmares consist of brains splattered on the wall from a self-inflicted gunshot (nevermind that we don't have any guns) or my darling boy hanging in his closet, or being beaten to death behind a portable at school or in the pick up parking lot because I was late to get him one day.
We talked once, about the young man who was outed as being gay after his "friends" videotaped him with another man. How desperate he must have felt, how invaded and unhappy to kill himself the way he did. In little kid fashion, my son missed the point. He heaved a big sigh and said "Mom... I'm not gay OR lesbian. I would never do that!" After a brief struggle not to laugh, I explained to him that you don't have to be gay or lesbian to consider killing yourself - just really, really unhappy.
Steps have been taken at school to make sure he's not being bullied. He's promised to work on bringing his grades up and the immediate threat seems to have passed in my dreams as they've gone from being threatening to just being strange again.
I know this cycle of fear will never go away. In a few short years, he'll be driving, dating, becoming an adult - and a whole new round of nightmares will present itself.
It is my fervent wish that none of them ever come true.
I wrote this as part of my 30 Days of Truth writing exercise. If you want to learn more and/or see what the topics for each of the 30 days are, click here.