The year my mom died, I would awaken, deep in the belly of the night, screaming. It was also the year my youngest son was having what they call in pediatric journals “Night Terrors.” He was inconsolable and would wake with red hot cheeks and swollen gums. I too would come to, a mess with flushed face, hair matted, mouth dry. When my partner would ask “What did I dream?” I was filled with an emptiness of unknowing. I wasn’t yet in that terrible club of despair and only knew that IT was coming but did not know what pitch my grief would escalate to. I did not know how tight its grip would be.
Years later, when we first moved into our new house, my son began having dreams again. I recall him shooting out of bed, calling our names and then us, rushing down the stairs to him in a panic. His face would be flushed, eyes red. He never could recollect the actual events of the dreams, just images and a brief feeling or two.
One time in particular he did remember and cried as he told us about a tiny blue bird in our garden-a fledgling just getting her wings. She had been released by mama to attempt flight. Our yard at the time was a labyrinth of weeds and vines, detritus from the former owners and fresh lumber poised in anticipation, erect like school children waiting to be picked for a task. Feral cats loved to burrow in and make dens, and have their kittens within the numerous crevices around and when the baby bird fell from the glorious pecan tree above, wet wings reaching out for life, beak to the sky, she never heard her mom cry out. The cat was so quick and hungry.
I fumbled for the hand of my little one as we snuggled, warm in his tiny toddler bed. “Fly little birdie” I heard him whisper as he slept. “Fly.”