1. My friends agreed to meet me at the high school’s basketball game. Mom wouldn’t give me a ride, so I walked the mile and a half (in the dark – mean mom). My friends weren’t there! On my way back home, I noticed a nervous-looking man wearing a hooded jacket. He was standing on the corner nervously shifting from one foot to the other, as if he was cold. I don’t remember if he had his hands in his pockets, but he probably did.
He grabbed my arm as I walked next to him. He swung me towards him and showed me a large fishing knife. The knife was pointed at my stomach. We were standing next to an empty plot of land full of tall weeds and grasses. I knew I was in serious trouble.
I don’t know where the bravery came from, but before he said a word I yelled at him. I told him if he dragged me into the field, I’d scream loudly enough to alert all the neighborhood.
“Everyone will come outside to witness what you’re doing, and you’ll never get away with anything. You ought to let go and run right away, you stupid mother fucker.” (Hey, that’s exactly what I said. Can’t lie.)
He hesitated for a split second. I must have scared him! He let go of my arm and before he changed his mind I ran across the street and banged on a stranger’s door. When the homeowner opened the door, I burst into tears and asked him to call the police, and he did.
They never found the would be rapist/attacker. After that experience, I rarely walked alone after dark. I was in the 9th grade when this happened.
2. Between the ages of five and eight I had a recurring dream I still remember vividly. I was under a table hiding from people I feared. They were military, not from our country. Invaders. The table was in a large (hugely large) space that echoed. I could hear footsteps coming, sharp cracking sounds, very clipped and rhythmic.
Even now, every so often, I will hear a song with clapping in the same rhythm as those footsteps and experience the horrible dream as if it was a vivid memory. The footsteps got closer and louder in the dream. They would stop next to my hiding place, and my heart would beat so loudly, I knew they could hear it. They were speaking another language, something I later realized sounded like German.
I knew they were going to lift up the tablecloth and capture me. But then I’d wake up. I’ve never told anyone about this dream before I told Jim about it last week. Nazi movies? Never watch them. Just can not.
3. A few years ago I experienced what experts call “Sleep Paralysis” in the middle of the night. I woke up, and felt completely awake, but I was paralyzed. I couldn’t will my limbs to move. I was keenly aware of a dark something on the bed staring at me. It was darker than any dark I have words to describe. and I was terrified. I thought I was going to die. I tried to say something to Jim, but I couldn’t speak. As quickly as it came, it went away. I hope it never happens again.
4. Jim and I had a baby girl named Melissa. She was a very tiny preemie that lived in the NICU for exactly 30 days. I was with her when she died. All of the doctors and nurses who tried desperately to save her life were weeping at the loss of her. We’d all become friends and they had fallen in love with all of us.
The first time I held Melissa was right after she’d died. In the most horrifying moment of my life, I felt the deepest love I’ve ever felt. Tangible love filled that room. From the window, I saw Jim run from the parking lot, through the front walkway, and into the hospital doors while I was holding our deceased child. I knew that in two or three minutes, his heart was going to break. I wanted to stop time.
When Jim came into the room, relief flooded my soul. I needed him there. His presence always soothes me. His calm spirit gives me an assuredness I can’t find without him. We held Melissa. We said goodbye. We went home. A Quaker nurse sat with Melissa’s body for hours. She did it for us, she explained later. She didn’t want that little body to lay all alone.
We learned that if a problem isn’t “life or death,” it’s likely that we can handle it just fine. We learned it the hard way, but the lesson is set in stone.