Mikey was sick last week. Sick enough to miss his final baseball game of the season.
He was pretty disappointed by this flagrant display of human frailty. He wrote a note of apology to his teammates and attached it to a leaf (why not?) and then crawled into bed with me for an afternoon of snuggling.
I’m feeling like I can’t make the game, either. The game being life and not making it meaning how can it possibly be Monday already? I am just so tired and devoid of energy lately. Maybe it’s the weather–66 degrees and sprinkling–that has me out of sorts. At this time during the year we are comfortably in the 80s. Weird.
What’s even more weird, and probably why I am so tired, is that I am having nightmares. No matter how many hours you sleep, you just don’t wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the day after a nightmare.
On Thursday night I couldn’t fall asleep until the early morning of Friday, and in that gray light before dawn I dreamed I was in a war torn city, alone. Bombs were flying everywhere, forcing me to huddle with a group of strangers underneath the portico of a make-shift hospital. A sniper came upon us and started tossing hand grenades that looked like golf balls. These golf ball bombs kept just missing us, but as the sniper’s aim gained accuracy, I turned to one of the people behind me and said, “Don’t worry. This is a dream I am having so it won’t actually hit us.”
Of course that’s when it hit me in the back.
I didn’t feel it, or at least it didn’t hurt. It felt more like a muscle twitching, the way you contract and retract your muscles up and down your spine after someone touches your side the wrong way.
I was afraid to touch my back, but I did. I noticed with clinical dispassion the rough texture and the blood on my hand. I’ve heard you don’t feel pain right before dying from grave injuries, and I said as much to the last person to stay with me in the portico. Everyone else had scattered.
“I think I am dying, but I have two small boys and a husband who need me. I think I can stand if you will help me inside the hospital.”
I can’t remember the face of the person who helped me, but I remember he blanched when he saw me.
I was able to walk easily enough into the hospital, but when the nurses saw me I knew I was dying. There were two nurses. One was young and hopeful, the other battered cold by seeing too many people die. She was the one who gave the order to put me on the gurney and move me after I died.
I told her I didn’t like her orders, and that I might live if they worked on me a bit.
“I have a lot to live for,” I said. “Give me a chance.”
“I’m sorry, but your wounds are fatal. You can’t see them, but they are. I can send in your son so you can say goodbye.”
And all of a sudden Nicholas was on my stomach, smiling and laughing and patting my face. I grabbed him so, so tightly. I couldn’t let go. I just kept rubbing his legs and arms and memorizing every feature. I love you. I love you. I love you. You will remember me, right? You know how much I love you, don’t you Nicholas? Tell mama you love her and won’t forget her, baby. Please. I”m begging you, please.
Then he was gone. I looked around for him and caught a glance of him outside in The Mister’s arms, walking down the destroyed street with the rest of the city, slowly fleeing whatever it was that was attacking us.
I was tied down in the gurney, or maybe my injuries made it so I couldn’t move. Either way, I started thrashing and begging the nurses to help me, to at least try. The older nurse refused. The younger nurse looked torn; she wanted to try but didn’t want to get in trouble. I kept pleading my case, telling them over and over again why I deserved to live, to at least have a shot at living. The idea of leaving the boys filled me with a hysteria I can’t even explain. It was like crawling in and out of my skin repeatedly and towards the end I just kept screaming that I didn’t want to die.
But the hardened nurse pretended she couldn’t hear me, and when I collapsed from exhaustion on the gurney and closed my eyes so I could formulate another argument in support of saving my life she looked up from bandaging an arm and said, “See what I mean? She’s already dead.”
I woke up.