Saturday, April 5, 2014

Questions from a Nightmare

Redding and Bo, uncharacteristically, spat and Bo, who has been sharing a bed, not just a room, with Redding for about the last ten years, wishes he had a room of his own so that he could get away from Reddy for the night. I suggest he go to the casita, an independent house at the back of our garden, outside and away from everyone.  Also uncharacteristically, Bo agrees and goes downstairs, outside, past the pool in the dark, and into the casita. I can see the light on in there from my room.  (Once Bo is upstairs he doesn't like going back down.  He is afraid of the dark and things unknown).  But tonight he  is frustrated enough with his brother to leave. 

I go to bed myself and am surprised when I see the casita lights are off and realize that Bo truly is staying there for the night.  About 30 minutes later I hear some awful sounds from Reddy's room.  I go in, and he is sleeping sideways in the bed, wrapped like a mummy in damp sheets.  Bo is next to him sound asleep, lightly snoring. The room is so hot--it's only early April but San Miguel is already warm and no one here has air conditioning.  There's a breeze in the hallway but Reddy has his windows shut and shuttered so that our dog, Jozi, can't see outside and bark at the night watchman who makes laps around the neighborhood, often standing in front of our house I'm convinced to make the dogs go crazy.  So Redd is warm to the touch and sweaty and crying.  Bo doesn't stir.

He wakes up immediately and starts shaking and telling me about his nightmare: "I had a dream that men came into our house with guns and took you away."  What could be more horrible for a child to imagine?  Of course I try to soothe him with the normal lines but he is inconsolable and opens up about all of his fears of dying and losing our family and not understanding his place in the world.  Almost like he's still asleep or feverish or in some weird state of not being quite conscience he rambles on for nearly 40 minutes: "I can't stand to think about losing you or dad or Bo or Mason.  That's why I had to go to the casita and get Bo.  I couldn't think about him being alone in there or scared or having something happen to him. I needed to have him back with me.  I don't know what I'd do if something happened to anyone of you. I think about it all the time. I think about it when I go to bed. I can't sleep because I think about dying and what happens when you die, what happens when your brain stops.  How does a brain stop?   How does it just stop?  What happens to your body?  Where does it go?  I have so many questions.  There are so many things I don't understand. I know about the universe and I know that the sky spreads out to infinity and that there's no end but I can't grasp that, I can't understand what is after infinity...."  I tell him that the world has been around for so long that the thought of it ending in our short life time just seems so remote. I say, "The whole solar system and all of our life has been around for billions of years..." He interrupts me and says, "4.6."  4.6 billion years he knows from his science classes with Polly at school.  So I try to tell him that even if something happened to the alignment of the planets we'd all die at one time, instantaneously, that we'd all be together in this great big world, snuffed out at the same second.  Somehow this seems mildly soothing to him.  But he continues on about death and fears and the unknown and I just don't know how to help him.  I try to tell him that one day he will have his own family and that I won't be as important to him.  That the world without me will not seem quite so scary.  But he can't believe that day can ever come. He's filled with too much love for me and his dad and his two brothers that the idea that we won't be there with him forever is too much to bear.  We talk until about 11 o'clock, I rub his head which he likes and run my fingers through his hair and finally he calms down and falls asleep.  In the morning we never discuss it and I don't know if he remembers it or not.

What I know is that I must be more careful in this life.

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