Dream's Future Pivot Point

I don't remember exactly when it happened, I just remember it scared me half to death. There
was a raft, riding the rapids, churning in the waves. Somehow, I couldn't see it clearly, the
raft tipped over, and everyone was thrown overboard. Then my mother came down the stairs with
a basket of laundry. She told me that Grandad was dead.

I woke up sweating. I couldn't move, couldn't think. I felt as though I had been pulled out of
that icy water. All I could do was stare at my cat poster on the opposite wall and think over
and over; "What if it's true? What if this actually happens?" I went to the next room when I
finally felt able to walk and told my mother about the dream. I didn't really know why I told
her, but a voice inside made me believe that it was important. She got very upset; chided me for
oversleeping and told me it was nothing but a dream, but she was just as frightened as I was.

She didn't want to believe, but she also couldn't help thinking, "What if she's right?" She
looked as though she wanted to slap me, as though I had invalidated everything she believed by
having that dream. After all, if anyone could have such a dream, it should be her, not her
twelve-year-old daughter. She's the bible reader, the religious one of the family. Her daughter
never reads the bible and hates going to church. The arrogance of that child to try and frighten
her. It must be just a dream, brought on by all those silly books she reads. I wanted to
believe her. I forced myself to forget.

I don't remember how much later, I was in a restroom at an old hotel in New Mexico. I heard my
mother leave and the door shut with a creaking groan and a resounding slam behind her. I sat in
the stall for a few moments and I heard heels clicking across the floor. I naturally assumed
that someone had come in while my mother was leaving. I flushed the toilet and left the stall,
and I noticed while I was checking the stall to make sure I hadn't left anything that all the
stall doors were open. I checked the stalls and they were all empty. There was no one using
the sink, and I certainly would have heard if anyone left with the way the heavy door groaned
and slammed. I washed my hands as quickly as I could and left the bathroom. I must have been
white as a sheet because my mother asked me if I was all right in one of the most concerned
voices I ever heard from her. All I could do was nod. Now was not the time to discuss it.
After all, we were there having lunch with Grandad and my aunt, and they certainly don't
believe in such things. We had also just seen an Unsolved Mysteries episode about a ghost in a
bathroom, which just added to the likelihood that I wouldn't be believed.

After we had lunch, I went to the gift shop of the hotel and bought a book on haunted places.
They had those books there because the hotel was reportedly haunted, so at least there was some
evidence that I wasn't completely out of my mind. They just smiled when I bought it. Her and
her haunting books, at least she spends her own money on them instead of begging us to buy it
for her. When we got back to my Grandad's cabin, I started talking about the reported cases in
the book as a way of opening the discussion. I was laughed off, just as I thought I would be,
and the topic was quickly changed. Watching too much TV again, she shouldn't be reading those
books if she's going to get so worked up about them. She's always had an overactive
imagination. I spent my night in bed thinking about the encounter in the hotel. I couldn't
shake this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I didn't know what it was; I just
assumed it was a result of being laughed off earlier. The next morning we packed up to leave.
I gave my Grandad a big hug. If I had known that was the last time I would ever see him, I
never would have let go.

A few weeks later, I came out from school and my mother was waiting in the car to pick me
up, just like every other day. She had gotten a haircut, which always look ridiculous the
first day and I took the opportunity to tell her so. She then burst out and told me Grandad
was dead. "Grandpa?" I asked. "No, Grandad," she answered. Grandpa had bronchitis and it
wouldn't have surprised me too greatly if he had died. But Grandad? He was healthy, active.
He went traveling all the time and brought back treasures from all the countries he visited.
It wasn't just sightseeing the way most senior citizens do, where they wander aimlessly in
their silly hats carrying large water bottles, he went on kayaking and scuba diving trips. I
was just getting to where I was old enough to go traveling with him. I always wanted to see
those places he had always talked about and now… "How did it happen?" I asked. "You remember
that rafting trip he went on? The boat flipped over. He was swept underwater into a rock.
Everyone else survived. He's dead." Then I remembered the dream, and I felt like I had
received a swift kick in the gut. I had completely forgotten about it until then. All I
could do was hold my mother and cry. What if I had done something, said something? I DID say
something, but I didn't know it was anything. Why didn't I believe? Why didn't they believe?
This can't be happening. Why now? Wake up, wake up, it's like a bad dream. I was crying so
hard I was shaking, staring at my feet all the way home, with nothing but a hollow inside me,
filled right to the breaking point.

Don't remember getting home, don't remember eating. What I do remember is sitting at the
dining room table, picking at the edge while my father made phone call after phone call.
There were so many things to be done, funeral arrangements, taking care of the estate, and
calling relatives. It wasn't that they were in denial; that they didn't feel like talking
about it, they just didn't feel like talking about it with me. They needed another adult,
someone who had been through something this tragic before, someone who was mature enough to
understand where they were coming from, not a seventh grader. Yet if I was too immature to
discuss it with, what made them think I was mature enough to handle it on my own? I tried to
be brave for everyone; ate all my dinner and watched my movies, trying to stay out of
everyone's way and to keep from crying. I eventually got tired of the movies and just curled
up on my bed, trying to sort out everything in my mind. My cat stayed right by my side the
whole day; I didn't know whether to be upset or grateful, but I didn't have the energy to make
her leave. I still felt so guilty, about the dream, about not being able to help get things
done now, about upsetting the cat by crying all the time, about everything. The one thing I
remember my father telling me is that everyone had a bad feeling about Grandad going on that
trip. If that was true, then why didn't anyone try to stop him? Why was everyone so shocked
when something happened? Or do you think if you play down my feelings of responsibility it
will all go away? Like what I experienced never happened? Why shouldn't I feel responsible?
Why should you tell me how to feel? You can control a lot of things, but you can't control
this, and don't pretend like you can.

I cried myself to sleep that night, feeling worse than I did already, if that were possible. I
prayed as I had never prayed before. I knew I couldn't get through this alone, and if my
parents weren't going to help me, I would turn to God, although I never really had before. I
knew about God, of course, I went to church and bible study and said my prayers before going to
bed, but I never really knew God before that night. I went to sleep feeling as though the
world were falling apart and when I woke up the next morning I found peace that I had never
known. I knew Grandad was all right, and I was ready to face the world and stop being afraid
and guilty. The dream was not to torture me, but to prepare me so that instead of wallowing in
my grief I could bounce back and continue with life. After all, I'm not the one who died.

My mother noticed my change in attitude and asked me if I had another dream. I told her I
dreamed about Grandad but I didn't really remember anything about it, which was true, but I
felt exhilarated. The adults are looking to ME for comfort! I've experienced something that
they haven't, and now I have the freedom to share it. They were in uncharted territory for the
first time in their lives; before they were always leading the child, they knew best. Now, I
was comforting them. After the funeral, they sat down with me and made a list of all the
things they were going to do to treat me as an adult. Of course, with these privileges came
added responsibility, but I was more than ready for it. For the first time my independence was
not seen as a curse brought down on them by a rebellious child, but the mark of a mature young
adult; not something to be reined in, but something that should be turned loose.

This event really was a turning point in my life. I no longer have the kind of communication
problems with my parents that I used to when I was little, and we get along much better now
than we ever have. They hold my opinions up as something to be valued. If Grandad hadn't
died, I would probably be traveling with him and much more in tune with the world than I am
now, but my parents would still have no reason to respect me and I would not have the kind of
relationship with God that I have now. I didn't realize then just how much God gave me in my
life by taking something so precious away. But now I do, and I can travel forward, soaring
into my life with dreams in tow, knowing that this pivotal experience has changed me for the