Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One man's nightmare is another man's reality

I've been having more bad dreams recently. It happens mostly when I'm awakened an hour or so before my usual rising time, during the fitful sleep that comes after premature wake-up/before real wake-up. That half-awake state must breed strange, troubled thoughts. And why do I keep waking up prior to the genuine wake-up? Well, I might have touched on one canine reason here. It also does not help that stupid, rule-breaking *@!?*&# Verizon borders our backyard and sometimes decides to off-load trucks around 5am. Plus there's our neighbor down the street who owns a car repair shop and has a nasty habit of "un-muffling" antique trucks and then switching around the business's classic-car license plates so he can take turns driving all of said trucks to and from the repair shop and home again. (He gets up at the crack of dawn—did I mention that?!)

Oh my, I'd better change the subject or you might think that all these factors cause me stress. How silly! Of course I love all my neighbors. Just like you do. Right?

Anyway. Bad dreams. The one that's sticking in my head most was from several nights ago. In that fitful, almost daylight hour of trying to fall back to sleep, my semi-conscious mind took me to work in a high-rise building downtown. There had been terror threats recently, and we were all gathered in a large room for a meeting, and the woman in charge was explaining there was nothing to worry about. And then, in my dream, the building lurched and the woman nearly lost her balance. We all did. It was a big lurch, as if something had exploded below us.

At that point the dream became rather unrealistic—because amidst the screams and shouts, the whole room tilted, as if the building had been struck with such force that the top of it had been knocked off. I could feel the entire room falling sideways; it was like we were in the top of one of my son's Lego structures that had been hit from the side until the upper portion flew off and landed on the ground. Except in my dream, we were falling in what felt like slow motion; we all had far too much time to process what was happening. Also, strangely (because it was a dream), no one had been knocked of his feet even though the entire room was tilted on its side and we were hurtling toward the ground below. That was handy, because since we were falling in slow-mo, and since miraculously none of us had fallen down, I had sufficient time to remember that I should make arrangements for someone else to meet my son's bus. I was preparing to dial my cell phone in the dream when I woke up.

I was very relieved to wake up. Albeit completely unrepresentative of the conscious laws of physics, the dream was disturbing. Mostly, it disturbed me because in my dream, I had not known whom to call. Now, in reality, I do know whom to call. We have a couple of options, neighbors and various relatives. Still, the whole thing got me thinking: What if I have a heart attack during the day? What if I'm involved in a bad car accident while my son's in school? What if I'm at a temp job downtown and a crazy person does a terrible thing to a building there? My building?

I know we don't like to think about this stuff. But it happens. A lady at my church lost her husband, younger than I am, because he suffered a brain aneurysm at home while caring for their children. The little kids sat next to his unconscious body for over an hour before anyone checked on them...and even then, people only checked because the wife had a weird feeling while at work. One of my son's schoolmates became father-less last year because the fellow fell from a building he was working on. Horrible as it is to consider, I am certain that there were at least a few kids waiting for a parent after the 9/11 tragedy. There had to be at least a handful of situations where the child was left without a back-up plan for a couple of hours or so. Don't you think? When that many people vanish in our busy and over-committed world, the ripples go out a long ways and affect many people.

It's scary. It gives me nightmares (literally). I can tell my child whom to find in an emergency, how to call 911—I can write down crucial information and stow it in back-packs, in wallets. But if he leaves the pack at school? No help. If I'm in a fiery crash and my purse and phone burn up? My careful preparations are ashes.

The whole thing gives me the heebie-jeebies and makes me short of breath. I guess I'll just have to make whatever plans I can, and pray that God protects my loved ones. (Would it be wrong to pray that the stupid pre-dawn disruptions cease, so I don't wake up, then try to sleep once more and have nightmares instead?)

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