The Wave

A dream where good things went south far too fast.

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I just had the most terrifying dream last night.

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I was at Ft. Myers beach, and for some reason I was with my grandma and aunt at a restaurant that apparently had really good soda. We were sitting at a table just outside the restaurant on the beach. My seat was facing the ocean, and my grandma’s and aunt’s seats were facing me from across the table.

I was listening to my grandma and aunt having some nonsensical conversation when I saw a fighter jet swoop low over the water and come to a stop. Then it started backing up and turning like it was trying to park, until it was turned so that its nose was facing the water. It dove into the water, but apparently that wasn’t what it wanted because it pulled out, backed up, then flew straight up into the air.

I was confused, but it was a dream, so of course I didn’t bother myself too much with it. I just shrugged it off and continued my conversation.

Then, without any warning, the jet rocked down into the water and blew up in a cloud of smoke, water, and debris. I watched in shock as a tsunami-sized wave erupted from the spot the jet had gone down and headed towards the beach.

I stood and pulled my grandma and aunt out of their seats, and told them we needed to go. The three of us started running, but we barely made it into town before the wave overcame us.

Everything became the wave. All I knew was that I had to survive and, more importantly, my family had to survive. As the wave was dragging us through the town, we passed by a tall fence and I grabbed on. My grandma and aunt grabbed onto my legs as they passed by, and after quite a bit of struggling, I managed to push them towards the fence so they could grab on as well.

We clung to the fence for dear life. I did my best to grab anyone who passed by and pull them to the fence, but I couldn’t get everyone. Most of the people, I couldn’t grab, and as they were dragged away, I knew they wouldn’t survive.

Some of the people who I couldn’t save were friends, and some were children. Those hurt the most.

After a few minutes, the wave passed by and the ground dried out. We sat there for a moment, trying to catch our breaths, before we all stood up and started stumbling about in different directions. I headed towards my house with my grandma and aunt, afraid that my parents might not have survived.

When we got there, our house still stood relatively whole amongst the rubble. I pushed open the door, which was partially destroyed by the water, and stepped into my house.

I was immediately bombarded by a huge hug. My parents and I cried in each other’s arms, then they did the same with my aunt and grandma. They explained how they had been sticking pictures to the wall in the corner when it happened. They told me they were afraid either I wouldn’t make it or they wouldn’t make it, so they spent what might have been their final moments taping the words “help, hope!” to the wall.

For some reason, that made complete sense to me, and I was so happy that they cared enough to do that in what might have been their final moments. Luckily, they had survived, so it didn’t matter.

My grandma and aunt went down to the basement (which somehow hadn’t flooded) to rest in the bedrooms down there. When they were gone, I asked my parents if my brother knew what had happened. They said they had no clue. He was still at college, and they hadn’t called him yet to tell him.

I had apparently lost my phone in the wave, so I found my dad’s phone and called my brother from that. When he answered, he nonchalantly said, “Hey, what’s up?”

I sighed in relief and put the phone on speaker so we could all talk to him. I asked him if he knew what had happened in Ft. Myers, and he said he’d heard something happened, but didn’t know what.

So I told him the story of what happened from the start of the dream. When I finished, he seemed panicky but calmed down when I told him we were all okay. I left when he started talking to my parents about something or other that I didn’t care about.

I went to the window and looked outside. I looked at all the people stumbling through the rubble that now made up the town. I thought of all the people that I hadn’t managed to save. I felt a tear slip free of my eye.

Then I woke up.


Picture source: DoSomething.org

A Miracle in My Life

Do you believe in miracles?

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Miracles are real.

I know many people don’t believe in them, and I understand why. It’s nerve-wracking to try to believe in something so unknown, something that can’t be controlled. It’s overwhelming to believe that a situation can turn from one end of a spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye.

It’s scary to believe in the impossible.

But I’ve seen proof that miracles are real. At many points throughout my life, I watched as my family and friends fought to be strong when it seemed there was no strength left, and I watched as they wept when they thought I wasn’t watching. They believed I would fall apart if I saw them falling apart, and, being the youngest in the family, they had to be strong for me.

I’ve always let them do this because I know it will help them be strong if they have someone to be strong for. However, in every instance, the moment I was alone, I knelt down and prayed.

I prayed that the situation would turn out okay in the end, that things would happen the way God planned them to. I prayed that my friends and family would find strength in Him, and that He’d help them find peace no matter what became of the situation. Sometimes, I asked Him to save whoever it was who needed the miracle, but usually I just asked Him to give me strength to deal with the outcome. I trusted Him, and I trusted that he would do things His way, and I trusted that His way would always be the best way.

So why am I saying all of this?

Because, my friends, I recently watched an impossible miracle unfold in a person very near to me, and I just don’t understand how people can deny it being a miracle.

You see, in early March, I was talking to my mom late at night, when she said she needed to call my brother at Purdue and tell us something very important. My brother answered, and we cheerily asked what she needed to tell us.

Neither of us expected her to bring up my dad’s recent skin care check up, nor did we expect her to tell us that the doctor found a dime-sized grayish-brown spot on the roof of his mouth.

Melanoma, she told us.

And not just one of the small cases he usually got from visiting Florida and spending too much time in the sun. No, the doctor had already said that it was one of the worst cases he’d seen, and they’d have to do a biopsy on it. Maybe more… But they’d talk more about it when the time came.

The biopsy was to occur on March 31st. The doctor had wanted to do it sooner, but my dad was determined to go on his mission trip and wanted to make sure he could help us move to our new house as soon as he got back. And, of course, he wanted me to be able to enjoy my senior year Spring break before having the surgery, just in case it didn’t go well.

My mom asked us to pray for him, but stayed away from the details. My brother and I were careful not to sound upset or ask too many questions, because she already looked and sounded like she was on the verge of tears. It was one of those silent agreements. My mom could think she was being strong for us, but in truth, we would be strong for her.

I went up to my room after that, plopped down on my bed, and prayed. I don’t know how long I prayed. I just started talking to God, asking Him to give me strength, to give my mom strength, to give me guidance and acceptance. For a bit, I talked about what I thought life might be like without my dad, and I started crying and begged God not to take him from me. Then I calmed down and told Him that I trusted Him and if He took my dad from me, I would be strong because everything happens for a reason. I’d grow stronger and things would turn out okay.

Eventually, I felt more at peace with the whole situation. I thanked God for listening and always being there for me, praised Him for the way He’s moved in my life and the great things He’s done, and went to bed.

I actually forgot about it within a couple of weeks. I lost track of time and got completely caught up in practicing. It wasn’t until I got home from guard this past Thursday that it came up again.

I was sitting in my room, reading and minding my own business, when my mom came in with a big grin. I immediately tensed up, not knowing what to expect. My mom sat down on the bed next to me and rolled her eyes at my reaction before asking if my dad had told me the good news.

I was confused. What good news? What could the good news be about? She looked like she was just barely keeping herself from jumping up and down, so I was just a bit worried about what it could be (why I always worry when someone looks that happy, I have no clue. I’m just very defensive).

She took a deep breath and told me my dad had gone to the doctor’s office today (I figure it was probably the hospital, but she knew from past experience that I would freak out if she told me my dad had gone to the hospital, so she went with the other term), and I immediately remembered our past conversation. March 31st. It was March 31st. And if she looked so happy…

My mom explained to me that the doctors had already hooked my dad up to the IV and were ready to give him the anasthesia when they double checked for the spot in his mouth.

They were shocked to find it completely gone.

They pulled out the pictures they’d taken of the spot, double checked his mouth multpile times, did a full examination to see if it had moved, but it hadn’t. They had picture proof that it had been there, that the doctor who had examined him originally hadn’t been seeing things. But the spot was no longer there.

The doctor who had origianlly made the diagnosis was completely overwhelmed. He said he’d been worrying about my dad ever since making the diagnosis, told him it was the worst case of melanoma he’d seen in a long time. He said he’d been nearly certain that the biopsy wouldn’t be enough and was worried they’d have to go into the bone, which would be much worse.

He stated quite clearly that things like that don’t happen. Melanoma that bad doesn’t just disappear. It was impossible.

He looked at my dad dead in the eyes and said, “This is a miracle.”

My mom told me all of this, and all I could do was shake my head in awe. My dad accepted it readily with little surprise. My mom didn’t even question it, as she was overcome with relief. I don’t know if my brother accepted it, or if he’s still in denial because it’s just so impossible, but I get the feeling he’s having trouble wrapping his head around it.

As for me, I’m amazed and awestruck, but not surprised in the least. Like I said before, I trust God with all my heart. I don’t know how or why. Usually I have trouble trusting, but not with Him. Maybe it’s the childish innocence that makes up a great portion of my soul. Maybe it’s because I already have more than enough proof that I can trust Him.

Whatever the reason, I knew things would turn out okay in the end. I can’t say I expected exactly what happened, but I must have subconciously expected something along those lines because I felt very little actual surprise. Rather, all I felt was joy and awe and the same wonder I always feel in these situations.

Miracles are real. This right here is the greatest proof I have ever seen. The impossible just became possible. Disaster has been averted. I’ve been given more time to spend with my dad.

Miracles are real. The proof is right in front of you.

All you have to do is believe.


 

Picture source: crosswalk.com

The Darkest Night: The Essay

Read my post, The Darkest Night, first. This is the essay that goes along with it.

It’s Because of You

Time stops moving as his words work their way into my conscience. My heart stops beating, my lungs won’t function. My mind jerks to a standstill, replaying the sentence again and again like a bad song stuck in my head. It’s probably because of disobedient children who don’t do what their parents tell them. In seconds, the sentence has morphed into one more basic, more clear, more horrifying. It’s because of you. It’s because of you. It’s because of YOU. I feel like I’ve been slapped. And the worst part is, I can’t deny it. As I stare down at my dad’s body, collapsed in a heap on the ground, frozen in time and pain and grief, I know he’s right. I know with absolute certainty that all of this is my fault. Another bit of darkness to hide behind my smile.

I started it when I got home from school and fought with my dad. All he’d wanted was for me to empty the dishwasher. If I had just obeyed him and done as he asked, none of what followed would have happened. But no, I had to let my stress get the best of me. I had to yell at my dad about having too much homework. I had to start the fight that ended with me slamming my door and him being stressed and tired as well.

I wasn’t in my room more than an hour before I heard my brother calling for me. I rolled my eyes and thought, what does he want? I was so incredibly ignorant. Luckily, I went downstairs to see what he wanted. What I found was definitely worth interrupting my homework. My father was standing next to the kitchen island, leaning heavily against my brother, moving slowly and robotically, looking like a gust of wind could push him over.

He was talking in this slurred, incoherent speech. I couldn’t understand anything he said. We tried moving him to the couch, thinking it might help, but we didn’t make it that far. My dad is surprisingly heavy when he isn’t able to support any of his weight, and I’m unsurprisingly weak. My brother did his best to support the majority of his weight, but it was no use. Without any real help from me, he collapsed on the floor next to the dining table.

I called my mom and did my best to explain the situation. She was at work, but she immediately started packing her stuff to leave. My mom called our neighbor so that we’d have some adult with us, and she was there in seconds. At that point, my dad had lost consciousness, but she woke him up and started talking to him, telling him what had happened.

My neighbor told him it was probably because of stress. He responded by looking straight at me and saying one coherent statement, the only coherent statement he spoke all night.

Time starts moving again. I swallow and push my emotions to the back of my mind. No one needs to see the brokenness and guilt I’m feeling. No one needs to know the truth. Life goes on, as if he’d said nothing, as if I’m the only one to have heard. My dad’s eyes slip shut as he again loses consciousness. That’s okay. It’s better this way.

An ambulance comes shortly after my mom arrives. My dad is taken. My neighbor goes home, my brother and mom leave to go with my dad. I’m left alone with my dog in my room, sobbing silently. I’m glad they asked me to stay and take care of the family pet. I need a moment to let out my emotions. Later, I’ll conceal them. No one will see my tears. I’ll harbor these feelings, keep them to myself. This is my burden, my darkness, and I need to carry it alone. I deserve this.

It won’t be long until this is just a hazy dream to the others. My father will remember nothing of that night, and very little of the past week. My mother and brother will be thankful that the doctors found nothing wrong and move on as if nothing happened. I won’t do anything to remind them. Why would I? They may not feel the guilt and pain that darken my heart and mind, but they’ll worry about me. My dad may forgive me, but I won’t be able to accept it. They’ll try to convince me that it was just a moment of darkness and it’s all over now, but that’s wrong. It wasn’t a moment of darkness, not for me. My family and I are separated by a wall. On the east side, their side, the sun will rise and the dawn will come. But my side is to the west, and I will never see the dawn. I will only ever see the dusk.

Life is cruel. No, scratch that. It’s vicious, callous, brutal, heartless, sadistic. Heaven knows the pain it’s caused me. Every turn reveals a new problem, a new disaster, a new choice. Sometimes, things turn out for the better. Problems are resolved. Disasters turn to hope. Choices are made correctly. But sometimes, something turns out so horribly that you can’t move on. Sure, other people might be fine, but that doesn’t mean you’re okay. The darkness isn’t always followed by the dawn, and sometimes the dark cloud that surrounds you has no silver lining to escape through. But that’s life. Everyone faces problems, and everyone has their own problems to face. There’s no use in giving someone another thing to worry about. It’s better to just face the darkness on your own. Put on a mask and hide it all behind a smile.