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The week after Evalyn passed away, I remember waking up in the night to the sound of Ieuan crying out in his sleep. Nick and I leapt from our bed and ran to his room by which time, Ieuan had already woken himself up.

“What were you dreaming about, darling?” I asked him as I held him close.

“I can’t remember,” he whimpered.

We stayed with him for a while and when he was ready to fall back to sleep, I tucked him in and turned off his light.

“We hope you sleep well,” we told him, “Try and have sweet dreams.”

“I don’t know how to make good ones,” came his little reply from the darkness and my heart broke in two at his words.

Up until seven days previously, Ieuan had no reason to have bad dreams. Monsters lived only in the fairytales and we had shielded him from the horrors that unfolded in the world around him. But then life burst the bubble we had kept him in and there he was telling us that he didn’t know how to sleep well.

I told my mum who went out that day and bought him a dreamcatcher to hang above his bed. He looked at me with a frown of doubt when I showed it to him after school.

“So it really keeps away bad dreams?” he asked.

“Yep,” I nodded, “Let’s just hang it above your pillow and see if it works, shall we?”

Ten months on and it’s still there, hanging like a beautiful feathered rainbow. And as far as I know, he hasn’t had any bad dreams like the one he had that night. . . .

I wish my dreams could be cured as easily.

I have two versions of Evalyn in my dreams. I have the dreams where she has passed away. But I also have dreams where she hasn’t and I’m still unsure as to what dream is hardest to wake from.

I dream that I’m back at the hospital in that room. Not the room where I gave birth to Evalyn and said Goodbye. But in the room where they told me she was gone. That room haunts my dreams. I remember he was young, the man who told me her heart had stopped beating. I don’t remember what he looked like but I can remember his eyes. I watched his eyes intently as they stared at the screen in front of him. I watched his eyes as they found my own and he told me Evalyn’s heart was no longer beating. That is the worst moment of my life. I can ignore it during the day if I don’t let my mind wander there. But at night time when my mind takes control of itself again, it likes to take me back. It likes to remind me of his eyes. It likes to remind me of the room and sometimes it likes to lock me in there so I can’t escape. Just me, those eyes, and a screen with no movement. . . .

There are the other dreams, of course. The ones where Evalyn is still with us. I don’t have those as often. Maybe my mind knows there’s no point teasing myself with make believe. Maybe it’s easier for the mind to venture to the dark places rather than float towards the light.

In one dream, she was lying on our bed. Just lying there and giggling at the ceiling. I was getting ready for the day and she was bathing in the moring light as it streamed through the window across the bedsheets. She wasn’t a newborn in that dream but a couple of months old. I went and sat next to her and smiled down at her little face as her eyes explored the room. I was happy. She was happy. I think that even as I sat on the edge of the bed, I knew that it wasn’t real. I knew that I had to wake up. I could feel real life trying to pull my eyelids open and even in my dream I remember telling her that I was sorry I had to leave her again. . . . .

Then I’m awake in my bedroom. But the room is dark, it’s 2:03am and Evalyn isnt there. Nor is she in the room next door where she should be. At least with the nightmares, waking up feels like a relief. But the true reality on waking from a dream of Evalyn is crushing. It hurts all over again and I’m torn between being grateful that I got to spend some time with the only version of her I have left and not wanting that dream at all as it hurts too much. . . .

If I had a dreamcatcher, I’m not completely sure which dreams I would want it to take away. Both torment me.

I grew up being told that dreams could come true.

But no one ever tells you that you don’t need to be asleep to live a nightmare.

 

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