I asked for a dream and I got one, but it was the kind of dream that makes me want to scream when I'm told to try and "get some sleep." This is what happens when I try...
It was a strange mix of two women experiencing something at the same time. The two women being my "now" self and my "dream" self. In the dream, I knew that Easton was going to die long before that day ever came. The "now" me knew the twisted agony of loss and kept encouraging my dream self to cherish every precious second, to soak up every scent from every fiber, and to trace every line with my finger. At times he could even speak and would ask questions that suggested that he didn't know he wasn't going to have a future. Other times, he was that baby that I knew. He was the one that I was nursing as he was staring up at me with such innocence. You know how your baby looks up at you mid-meal and when they catch your eye and smile, milk runs out of their mouths and your whole being is consumed with love for this little person? It was that moment, and in that moment I was telling my dream self to forget the idea of wiping away that milk that would soak my clothing as it dripped from his mouth. I urged the dream me to envelope myself in that moment, pulling him closer to me, letting him nurse longer. Forever wouldn't be too long. In fact, forever would be perfect.
When he was able to ask questions about a future I knew he wouldn't have, my now self told my dream self to just answer as if we had all the time in the world. Tell him that someday he'll be begging for a car and that first taste of freedom. Tell him that the books will get heavier as he nears graduation. Tell him that you'll be there on the day he tells you he met the love of his life, and although you vowed you never would, you'd secretly pester him about grandchildren. Tell him these things and save the pain for later. Save it for when you alone are experiencing it and he is in a place of peace. Carry the burden of relentless pain over the "never wills" on your own and spare him that moment.
Then I woke up, my body shaking violently, wracked with sobs. The sleep stupor gave way to the harsh slap of reality (as it always does) and the realization that he was already gone settled in once again. There was no longer a dream self. There was just that now self. The one who'd already cried a thousand tears. The one who'd already isolated herself from the world she'd once known. My now self raged with anger as I cried myself fully awake. My face hot, and my tears hitting my burning cheeks, I rolled to my side to crush into my pillow and bury the sound of sobbing because the now me had already woken too many in the middle of the night with her pain. No reason to do that again. Instead, I cursed whatever silent power had allowed me to dream in such a painfully paralleled way. In my head I was screaming at how unbelievably unfair all of it was. Of course I'd asked for a dream, but did everything have to come with an edge, a knife just waiting to dig into a still very open wound?
But, as I lay there letting my body regain some semblance of control, I began to see the dream from a different perspective. This is how it could have been if you would have known. At one point, we could have learned of his disorder, but because he didn't fit the bill, the doctors didn't pursue it. Babies with this disorder DIDN'T get better. The first hit should have killed him. I remember when we finally did test him, and I sat alone in his room with him, reading what a positive result would mean. I clutched his hand and BEGGED for them to say they'd gotten it wrong and that he actually had cancer. PLEASE say he has cancer. PLEASE tell me that we are fighting a disease that said that though our chances are small that we at least have SOMETHING to fight. TELL me he needs an organ. I have all of them, and he can have any one of them. Just give me that chance, because I know that this particular disorder means one thing...no future. After that positive result there would be no begging, no pleading, no last glimmer of hope. There would only be pain and impossible decisions. And that's exactly what happened. How could a "yes" carry with it so much undeniable "no"? It meant no more possibility. It crushed my being in a single moment. It wiped away any hope of any "prayer" being strong enough to save us. This was it. This was reality and living it for the next 12 hours was indescribable.
So, maybe this dream was yet another "gift." Maybe it was showing me how it might have been had I been forced to know that each moment no longer represented the joy of a "first", but instead came with the sting of a "last." Maybe someday my gifts won't come with such excruciating pain. Maybe I'll be allowed to learn a lesson covered in goodness and light instead of being shrouded in unrelenting dread. Maybe my dream self and my now self will feel loved and protected enough to really sleep again. Maybe. But for now, the pillow still catches the tears and stifles the screams...for both of us.