This morning, I had a horrible dream. Brought on no doubt by a tragic event close to home as well as the events surrounding the murders of the nine Bible study attendees in Charleston.
In the dream, I was a nanny for a family with a little girl. (Let's call her Mary.) We were returning to their home from vacation. We all exited the vehicle in the driveway; Mary's parents (let's call them Bob and Sally) proceeded to unload the car. From the corner of my eye, I spotted Sally's ex-husband inside the house.
My assumption was that Bob and Sally saw him too but most of my attention was distracted by Mary so I didn't ask. Mary was running towards a neighbor's yard, enticed by a colorful ball left lying in the grass.
I chased her, yelling, "No Mary! (I wish I could remember what her name actually was in the dream...) Come back, come back!"
Mary kept running, finally falling down in the grass next to the ball. I took her hand and led her back to her house, explaining that it was the neighbor's ball, not hers, and we had to leave it.
As I walked toward the house I began feeling apprehensive, knowing it was dangerous to go in with the Sally's ex inside. I don't remember saying it aloud.
But my apprehension kept me in the driveway, watching tensely. I saw Sally's ex approach Bob and Sally. The three of them appeared to be talking amicably. Suddenly, the ex pulled a out gun. I saw two younger guys appear with ropes.
I turned and ran up the street, looking for a hiding place as well as people who might have cell phones. As I ran, I realized I'd left my purse in the vehicle. It had my i.d. in it, which had my address on it; I felt sick, knowing if the bad guys didn't catch me at that time, they could find me later.
Bob and Sally's neighborhood was fairly well-to-do. Beautifully-landscaped public areas fronted well-manicured front lawns that led to stately brick homes.
Frantically, I bypassed most of those lovely homes, seeking people who were already outside.
Believing that the men from the house would pursue me as soon as they finished with the family, I anxiously sought shelter. I passed a few homes where guys were out working. As I tore past them, I yelled out, "Please call 911! There are three men with guns down the street!"
When I reached the community pool, I thought its outbuilding looked like a safe hiding place. It was concrete and had a steel door with a lock. But I had a difficult time getting in. By the time the attendant came to unlock the gate and I explained the situation to him, the armed men were coming and they had seen me.
I panicked and ran into the outer area, on the far side of the pool, still outside. I frantically sought a back exit as the armed men came into the pool area too.
Sally was with them, as a hostage. Her wrists were bound in front of her and she was being pulled along by her restraint.
It was then that I noticed that the two young men accompanying the ex-husband were his sons from a marriage he'd had previous to marrying Sally.
I saw that the young men were armed with shot guns. I began to run, praying that I wouldn't be shot in the back. Way back in a corner, there was part of the fence covered in growing vines. I ran toward it, not knowing why. When I reached it, I could see that it was really a gaping hole in the fence, draped with vines.
I scuttled through, thinking I was safe, not realizing there was another fence enclosing that one. Thinking I would surely be shot this time, I began to climb the outer fence, praying for another miracle.
I made it over and down to the ground, wondering why I hadn't been killed. As I turned to look back, I could see the men leading Sally back toward the street.
Eventually I doubled back toward Bob and Sally's house. The police had arrived and everything was blocked off. The gunmen had taken Sally back into the house and were standing off with the police.
For some reason, I was sent into the house to spy. I snuck in and overheard the ex-husband telling his sons to load their guns with the bullets that would penetrate bulletproof vests. (The ex-husband called the bullets a name I can't remember but when he said it in my dream, I knew exactly what he meant.)
I ran back out to the police crying, repeating what the man had said. One officer reassured me that everything would be okay and not to worry. I was incredulous, thinking the three men inside would massacre the officers and then come for me.
It was too much for me even in a dream. My anxiety escalated to "terror" and I woke up with my heart racing.
I wanted to turn my light on in my bedroom but the dream had frightened me to the point of irrationality. I felt that turning my light on could attract the attention of some bad armed person who just happened to be walking near, just as I was turning my light on.
I was afraid to go back to sleep for fear of slipping back into the same dream (something that happened to me once before; an awful occurrence!) so I got up and sat on the floor and prayed for a while.
Eventually I exited my room, being careful not to turn on any lights. I sat in my dark living room with my laptop, listening to soothing music, waiting for daylight. It arrived slowly, with overcast skies and not a ray of sunshine.
I took my morning walk an hour earlier than usual. If helped some but I know I'll need a lot more prayer, meditation, and perhaps a few sessions with the grief counselor who helped me deal with Mr. Bliss's death these past three years.
Despite this momentary return to the realm of F.E.A.R., I maintain a sense of gratitude for my life.
My child is healthy, I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a car to drive, I'm debt-free... I have much to be thankful for.