The giant wave lifted our bodies upon its crest, and in slow motion, the four of us slid between it and the next one.
“Mom, I’m going to let go.”
“No, don’t! I’ve got you! We can do this! Hold on to me!”
“Mom, I’m ok. You taught me how to swim. It’s going to be ok!”
In this shockingly vivid dream, I held on to the trusting bodies of my three children, keeping us all up, our heads out of the water. But it was becoming more difficult, and I didn’t know how much longer I could manage. The waves kept coming from an unknown origin, lifting everything in the bay like a series of tsunamis.
My oldest son looked right at me and repeated his declaration, “I’m letting go now.”
And he did.
I dreamt of his hand slipping through mine, shocks running up my arm as his fingers finally parted my grasp.
I bellowed his name as he quickly drifted away from me, dragged along the ridgeline of another massive wave. Another wave pulled his siblings and me in a different direction. His mass of a single person affected differently from that of our human flotilla, the other members who now cried out for their brother.
I lost sight of him with the next wave until I saw him ascend the crest of the following one.
I was aware that I was dreaming, and I could even sense myself waking.
My most lucid dreaming takes place just before my brain fully ignites for the day, but I wanted to see the end of this dream, to know that everything really was ok. Forcing myself back into sleep only made it more impossible to revisit the fleeting moments of my subconscious.
Like myself in the dream reaching for my son, my now conscious mind reached for the tendrils of images that were drifting away.
My eyes opened, and my heart raced.
My hand, the one that had just sensed the departure of my son, tingled, pressed between my head and pillow, the only part of my body now still asleep.
A single tear escaped the corner of my eye, leaving a wet trail on its way to my pillow.
Fully awakened, I lay there knowing that we were all tucked into our beds in our home. Comforted by my husband’s gentle snores beside me, I didn’t even feel the need to go check on everyone. The morning sun would wake them soon enough.
I recalled the beautifully absurd image of the waves conjured just moments earlier by my overactive mind. I tried to rekindle the dream’s story, piecing the details of what had led to my children and me floating in Pensacola Bay (I think we had been on a boat or a ferry?) and what imagined phenomenon had created the sudden upheaval of thirty-foot seas in our protected estuary (no idea! This was a week or more before Hurricane Sally’s surge).
A classic over-thinker, I was sure it must have meaning.
My oldest is nearing 14 years. He’s completing his final year in the school of my own youth, where I teach and have watched his days of play and learning first-hand for ten years.
He’s already begun.
Our mornings no longer require constant reminders of details and procedures. Yesterday, he prepared himself breakfast before I could even let the coffee kick in. There’s no more forgetting of lunches or medicine or homework. He’s simply ready to go.
This year, he completes long term projects with ease and without reminders.
Lately, for exercise, he goes for long bike rides, listening to podcasts or music, or talking to friends. Consequently, his boundaries are wider than ever, and I’ve never felt more comfortable.
He saves his money for special pre-researched purchases that don’t require my help due to his having his own debit card with money he’s earned outside of our family.
On weekends his energy surpasses my own, and he’s often the one saying goodnight and offering to turn out the lights when I’m crashing after a week of work.
He asked his friend for advice on something he would have come to my husband or me for just a few months ago.
“Mom, I’m going to let go,” I hear him again in my head.
“It’s happening,” I tell myself, seeing the millions of little ways he’s letting go of me.
As he drifts away, my instincts tell me to cling to my two younger children who need me in different ways–but they also tell me to swim like the dickens to keep my eye on him as he crests waves without me.
I recalled his easy drifting away in my dream, his smile back to me as he floated on the surface of one giant wave, his gaze shifting from me to the incoming swell that he would rise upon next. Where the waves might have overcome him, instead, he followed their undulations. It was as if he just went with the proverbial flow.
I taught him how to swim.
And he’s ok.
It’s going to be ok.