|January 23, 2013|
When I was a little girl, I used to get terrible nightmares. I didn't dream of bogeymen or monsters in my closet, but of real and scary dangers that never seemed to leave my head. I lived with my grandparents during some of the worst periods of bad dreams. Each night, my grandfather would tell me stories about fishing trips he'd take in Canada. The plane rides into remote places, the clear, cold waters and the giant fish he'd catch. When I told him about my nightmares, he'd hug and kiss me and say, "You'll always be safe in my house." And I believed him. My grandfather, the man who makes a perfect Shirley Temple, talks with his hands, and calls me CJ, my favorite nickname - a nickname that literally no one else ever uses for me but him. It's our thing.
Today, when I walked into his hospital room, he was alone and lay sleeping tucked under a mountain of blankets. I woke him gently and he opened his eyes when he heard my voice. On the TV on the wall flashed scenes from a lake, mountains rising around it, green lush pines lining the banks. I stood next to him and we talked for a moment about how he was doing. He managed a small joke and took my hand as I sat in the chair right next to his bed.
"Can you see the picture on the screen?" I asked pointing at the lake scene flashing in front of us.
"No." he answered, closing his eyes. "Tell me what it is."
"It sure is." I told him.
Leaning in, I kissed his cheek, hugged him gently, and told him that I loved him. I told him he was safe. And as the tears fell silently, I was so grateful for this rare moment with him. His mind clear and his body, however temporarily, free of pain. So, in a hospital room, in Nebraska, my grandfather and I got to go to our lake that chases away nightmares. A place I'd never been, a place he couldn't remember that would still somehow always be ours.