“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” ~Hermann Hesse
Last night I had a bad dream. I hesitate to call it a nightmare because, although it did wake me up and stay with me all day, it wasn’t the most horrific dream I’ve ever had. In my dream, I was in a very crowded mall with my sons. My youngest needed to go to the bathroom. So, we walked down the mall together to the bathroom where I asked his brother to take him in while I waited outside. This is the usual routine. While I was within viewing distance of the restroom where my boys were, I kept on shopping around. After what seemed like a while, I noticed Joe standing outside the restroom door alone playing games on his iPhone. I asked him where his brother was. He told me he’d left him inside. I sent Joe back in to get Luke and that was when we realized he was missing. I felt immediate and intense panic. I am not a worrier, but I was worried. I knew something was wrong. The rest of the dream was a blur of running around, calling Luke’s name, asking people if they had seen him, and wondering how I could have been so stupid to leave him in his brother’s care when the mall was overly crowded.
I’m not ashamed to admit that the dream shook me. When Luke came into my room a few minutes after I had awoken, I called him over and gave him a huge hug. I was near tears. The feelings from my dream were still palpable. I was angry at myself for letting him go. I held onto him this morning until he began to writhe from my grasp.
I thought a lot today about that dream. Because I’m not a worrier and I haven’t thought twice about letting the boys go alone into the men’s room since they were roughly 7 and 5, I know that the dream was not about stranger danger. It was my way of working through the fact that my baby is gone. He’s almost 9. I know it’s foolish to be sad about this thing that I cannot change (nor would I want to because I am truly excited to see where life takes my ambitious, creative, and determined son), but it’s painfully clear that I am sad. Maybe I haven’t wanted to admit it, but apparently while my conscious mind is telling me that denial really is just a river in Egypt my subconscious is trying to help me resolve my issues…against my will, whether I like it or not.
I know that my mind wants me to wake up and appreciate my present with my boys before it becomes my past with my boys. It’s reminding me to make the most of this moment because this moment is the only one I’m guaranteed. Sometimes, though, I wish the dream police would pull out the billy club and beat my subconscious back into a state of quiet submission so I could enjoy a few more moments in LaLa Land, where my boys are not moving away from me faster than the speed of light. Watching your children grow up is tough, but what makes it tougher is knowing that as they’re getting older you are too.