9: The Lifeguardian Angel

9: The Lifeguardian Angel

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

The Lifeguardian Angel

The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.

~Thucydides

I put the youngest of my four children down for bed. Whew! Abby was a handful. At eighteen months old, she was a bundle of youthful energy. Everything fascinated her. Earlier that day, she had been toddling through the fresh cut grass chasing a tiny butterfly.

My oldest daughter, Alison, was starring as “Annie” in her school’s fifth grade play. She spent hours singing “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” to Abby. Her other siblings had lost interest after hearing it for the umpteenth time, but little Abby loved it. She clapped her chubby, little hands after every performance. I slathered some sunscreen on her plump arms and managed to dab a drop on Alison’s freckled cheeks.

“Don’t stay out here too long. You will burn,” I warned.

“I know, Mom . . .” Alison barely missed a note and returned to practicing.

That night, I told my husband about the day as I pulled down the bed sheet. “I hope the girls didn’t get too much sun today.”

“You worry too much,” my husband reassured me. That was true. With four children under the age of eleven, I was a masterful worrier.

I recited my checklist. “I bathed Abby, administered Austin’s eye drops, wrapped a Band-Aid on Ansley’s injured finger, and remembered Alison’s allergy medicine.”

“Good grief!” Allen mimicked his best Charlie Brown.

“I don’t mean to worry, but it just comes with the job,” I sighed.

“You are great at it!” he reassured me before I collapsed into bed.

Now was not the time to discuss my recent recurring nightmare. I turned out the light, hoping for a good night’s sleep.

Then the nightmare returned. I could see her at the bottom of the water. My little Abby was trapped under the water, staring at me with her bright, blue eyes full of fear. I looked around, trying to scream for help, but my voice wouldn’t work.

But someone else was there, too. He always showed up during this dream. He was so beautiful and calm. I wasn’t afraid to follow him, but I didn’t know where we were going, and I had to get my baby. She was drowning.

I sat up in the bed.

“Amy, what is wrong?” Allen shook me gently.

“Abby. Where is she?” I tossed back the covers, jumping to my feet.

“She is asleep. This is the third night in a row. Stop worrying about the kids.” He turned over.

“I am just going to peek at them,” I whispered. My heart was racing as the image from my dream replayed in my head.

I gently touched the top of her soft, little head. I placed my palm lightly on her chest to make sure she was breathing. I think all moms do that on occasion just for reassurance.

She was not underwater. She was safe.

I quietly checked the others. All were safe and sound.

The clock beside my bed read 3:40 a.m.; I needed to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned. The image of my baby trapped underwater kept resurfacing. I wanted to find the calm man. I couldn’t remember much about him, but when he was near me, I wasn’t afraid. Maybe he would help me . . . I drifted back to sleep.

“BZZZZZZ!” the alarm clock shattered my peace.

“Did you go check on the kids again?” my husband whispered.

“I can’t help it. I’ve had this nightmare three nights in a row. Abby is underwater,” I mumbled.

“It’s just a dream. The kids are safe.” He sighed.

That morning, I sipped coffee, prepared lunches, packed book bags, and went over the daily schedule. “Mom, I have rehearsal until 5:00 today,” Alison noted.

“I’ll be there. Gabrielle will watch the kids for a few hours after school.” My neighbor offered to babysit anytime. She had three little boys.

I ironed costumes and played with Abby, my nightmare almost forgotten. I was looking forward to actually wearing make-up and real clothes when I attended Alison’s rehearsal. Most days, I am in sweats.

The rehearsals went well and Alison sounded beautiful. I enjoy being at the Performing Arts Centre, but I couldn’t shake my anxiety. I needed to see my other children.

“You ready, kiddo?” I gathered Alison’s costumes.

“Yep, let’s go.” We headed to the car.

We chatted about her music on the twenty-minute ride home. As soon as I turned into Gabrielle’s driveway, I saw the man from my dream. I instantly got goose bumps.

“Look!” I pointed toward the man standing near the driveway.

“What?” Alison looked. “Mom, that’s a tree.”

I looked again, and she was right. It was just a tree. I really needed more sleep.

The kids were playing in the swimming pool. Austin was happily splashing in the shallow end with Ansley. Gabrielle’s three boys ran around, jumping in and out of the pool. Abby was sitting near Gabrielle, fully dressed.

“She didn’t want to swim. She cried when I put her feet in the water,” Gabrielle laughed.

“It’s okay.” I bent over to pick her up.

Gabrielle’s youngest son ran toward the driveway, forcing his mother to chase him.

“Come on, kids. We have to go.” I put down Abby and gathered up Austin in a towel.

Abby toddled off, following the other kids. As I dried Austin, I heard a splash.

“MOM!” Alison screamed.

I ran toward the deep end of the pool and looked down to see Abby sinking deeper and deeper into nine feet of water. Her saucer-blue eyes stared up at me. Just like my dream . . .

I jumped in feet first, fully clothed, jewelry and all. I grabbed her shirt. She was so heavy. I pulled harder. I threw her up on the side of the pool. Alison grabbed her. Abby started crying . . . melodic music to my ears. She was scared, but perfectly safe. We didn’t even have to do CPR.

The commotion brought Gabrielle and the other kids running.

“I didn’t mean to bump her,” her oldest son apologized. He was as scared as Abby. “We were just playing.”

“It’s okay. I was standing right here, too.” I assured him it was an accident.

Gabrielle handed me a towel. I was shaking, but managed to dry myself off.

“Thank you for watching them,” I offered as we left. But I knew she wasn’t the only one watching . . .

At home, my children shared the excitement of the day with their dad.

“Mom jumped in with all of her clothes on and grabbed Abby!” Alison laughed.

At bedtime, I whispered a silent “thank you” to my guardian angel. He visited my dreams so I would be prepared, and I know he was in Gabrielle’s driveway that afternoon. It wasn’t “just a tree.”

~Amy McCoy Dees

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