I woke up to a frightening dream this morning. My family and I were at the bottom of an icy slope, next to a frozen lake with green water, (same color as the water I am looking at right now). Ava was at the top, standing on skis in her pink snow suit and preparing to come down and I was waiting for her, noticeably nervous because the slope converged into a narrow path, maybe three feet wide that stretched next to the lake. If you didn’t know how to ski, chances were that you’d head right into the water. I kept looking at her, looking at the lake. In my dream, I had seen Ava ski before and knew she had trouble turning and stopping. I wanted to tell her to just sit down when she got to the bottom. Don’t try and stop, just fall down and daddy will get you.
But she was too far to hear what I was saying and a minute later she tipped over the top of the slope and began skiing a rapid, one track path directly down the hill. I sucked in my breath and tried to position myself where I could grab her if there were problems. That wasn’t going to happen though because she was traveling too fast – straight down. I could see happy excitement on her face, and knew mine was wrought with terror. She managed to hit the path at the end, accidentally of course, but at least she hit it and was slowing down to an eventual stop. I exhaled and looked at the water. That was a close one. Then I looked at her again. Then she tried to walk but couldn’t pick up her feet, lost her balance and gently fell into the water, sinking to the bottom.
Without thinking I jumped in and swam straight down. It was well lit and the water was clear, blurry of course but there was enough for me to see my baby at the bottom. I could see her and she wasn’t moving. In shock, I thought. I began to worry about the temperature of the lake and the effect it would have on my muscles and brain. My arms were getting harder to spread in front of me. It was like trying to part sand and defy gravity at the same time. Suddenly my rescue effort slowed to a stop. I heard two slowing heartbeats…then nothing.
I woke up in a panic and looked at the clock. 7am. Both kids were snoring. So was Rhonda. I was breathing heavy and my eyes were darting across the ceiling, looking for the pictures in the book I wasn’t done reading. Clearly I was still half asleep because I slammed my eyes shut to try and get back to the bottom of the lake so I could grab Ava and swim to the surface. But of course that was impossible. You can’t awake from a dream due to pressuring anxiety and then expect to return to the same situation that your mind rejected just moments earlier. But I also couldn’t lie in bed without resolving my angst. I closed my eyes and recounted the entire situation: her on the hill, me at the bottom, she’s descending, slowing, she’s in the water, so am I, swimming down, I see her green and pink coat, I’ve got her, upward, muscle movement slowing, we’re at the surface, she’s out, I’m out. We’re going to make it. It wasn’t a dream anymore, it was just what I wanted to think about and what I needed to not have an unsolicited pit in my stomach this morning. Fuck you subconscious.