Not drowning, waving

Amelia will go her own way

Amelia will go her own way

Last night I dreamt that Amelia was running ahead of me near a water’s edge I did not recognise. I was sprinting to stop her but she was too quick for me.

She was laughing, her head thrown back in a pose of delight, as she looked back in my direction. Amelia was having the time of her life; the dream version of me did not agree.

I saw it all in hazy point of view shots. My hand as it reached out and missed her as she leapt into the air, pink backpack and all, and jumped into the water feet first.

The surface of the water as I dove right in after her, face forward, frantically searching the murky depths below for a sign of her.

The topmost handle of Amelia’s backpack – the one with the mermaids on – the weight of which had pulled her down fast, so fast she was almost gone.

And there was my hand again, elongated in supernatural elasticity, stretching out to grab that handle and then, ‘Got it!’, I had it in my grasp and I pulled my little girl up with all the strength I could muster.

I pushed her onto the bank and my husband was there to hold her, to roll her over while she coughed unwanted liquid from her lungs. I ripped the backpack off her shoulders; it was over and I woke up with a start.

Sleep was hard to find again after that – the fear and anxiety of my dream was all too familiar.

Amelia is so determined to go her own way in the world that I often feel no more than a powerless onlooker.

As a parent, so much seems (and is) beyond my control. Her deafness, her now-confirmed diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

But I was forgetting about the hope that the real world Amelia brings to my daylight hours. In the morning she came to my bedside and reached out for my hand and I pulled her up into the safety of our bed.

I put my head on her shoulder and felt consoled by the sight of her, the feel of her warm body next to me, the smell of her hair.

Amelia saved me this time, from the dark thoughts that visit me at night, that haunt me even when I am asleep. And she reminded me that nothing, no pain or problem, is ever as bad as our nightmares make them out to be.

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