I woke up with a start last night. The room was dark, save for the flicker of light from the fireplace in the next room. I was shivering, but not from the cold. It took me a moment to realize where I was, but as the shadows of the room began to reveal the familiar edges of furniture and windows, I began to breathe easier. The nightmare was over.
When I was a child, I used to dream quite often and many of my dreams were dramatic, to say the least. With an overactive imagination, my subconscious had plenty of fodder with which to amuse itself. Once I was chased by a large drum turned murderous potato. I also explored ancient ruins. And for the months following September 11th, I had dreams of planes slamming into shopping malls and grocery stores, scores of people dying.
But nothing compared to last night’s nightmare. No, last night’s was alarmingly realistic and tragically painful and in the moments after my eyes opened, while my mind was still foggy, grief and fear flooded me. The relief that washed over me as my surroundings came into focus, dampened those emotions and I laid in bed, listening to my rapid breathing, waiting for my heart to calm. After several long minutes it finally did. I vowed in that moment to never speak that dream, and so I never will.
This morning when I woke, the world looked a little different.
My children were more precious. My husband, more cherished. And as for me, I was thankful for a new day- especially one that bore no resemblance to that nightmare.