53: Highway to Heaven

53: Highway to Heaven

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Highway to Heaven

Forewarn’d, forearm’d.

~Benjamin Franklin

My husband never listened to me while we were together. So when I woke up from a dream that warned of his death after we separated, I was even more sure that he wouldn’t listen to me then. He was actually on his way out of town for a weekend road trip with his new girlfriend and her motorcycle club. They had started dating three weeks before, just one week after we separated.

He’ll think I’m just trying to ruin his trip, I thought. I don’t want him to think I care or that I’m jealous he’s going away with someone else. So I went back to sleep and right back into the same vivid dream.

I’ve had lifelike dreams before, but this one was different. In this dream, everything is bright, clear, and large, like sitting in the front seat of a movie theater, but I’m in the movie. It not only feels real, but it looks real.

I’m facing east down California State Route 98, the desert highway that runs along the Mexican border. It’s a sunny, warm November afternoon. The wind isn’t too bad, just a cool, soft breeze — perfect riding weather. The colors are piercing. Plants are resurrecting. Summer is gone, and greenery is beginning to overtake the brown hillside.

The road is empty, desolate, as if everyone is gone or still on their way. It’s a happy, peaceful place. It’s how I imagine heaven.

Abruptly, I jump into another dream. At least, I think it’s another dream, like someone changed the channel or hit fast-forward to the next scene. The joy and peace are gone. I’m filled with anger, grief, and regret. I’m in a stuffy, musty room. It’s my husband’s bedroom where I used to sleep, too.

I’m standing next to the bed we picked out together. He’s dead, and I’m cleaning out his mahogany drawers. I find a card to me in his nightstand. It’s blank. He never got to fill it out. I’ll never know what he was going to write. Maybe he missed me. Maybe he still loved me. Maybe he was sorry and wanted me back. I hold it and try to imagine the words he might have written.

Then my thoughts are interrupted. A blond, older woman walks in behind me. It’s her. I turn around in shock as I realize she has a key to our home. He had already given her a key, I think. So soon?! But their relationship is a discussion for another day I can see in the future. I yell and plead with her to tell me, “What happened? What happened?”

I woke up from that dream screaming. I knew then that I had to do something. I tried calling my husband, but his phone was off. It was always off when he slept. I told myself, Well, I tried, and went back to sleep. And right back into the same dream. I couldn’t escape the nightmare. I’ve never been able to get back into the same dream when I wanted to, so when I couldn’t get out of this one, I knew I had to listen. I woke myself up and tried calling all three of my husband’s numbers — his personal cell, business cell, and his home office phone. I texted him, as well.

7:09 a.m.: “Call me!”

No response.

7:16 a.m.: “It’s important.”

No response.

7:21 a.m.: “Don’t go on the ride.”

No response.

7:24 a.m.: “Something bad is gonna happen!”

No response.

At that point, my embarrassment was gone and determination had taken over. I called my husband’s home office phone repeatedly, hoping the ringer would eventually wake him. It did. He read the texts and called me back. He wasn’t angry that I woke him. I told him about my dream. It wasn’t just a bad feeling I had. I told him matter-of-factly that there was going to be an accident on that road trip, and he would die in it if he went. I rambled on and on and, surprisingly, he didn’t interrupt. My husband never let me speak my mind, so I thought he had fallen back to sleep.

“Are you there?” I said, exasperated.

“I’m here,” he said calmly. I expected that I’d have to plead with him, but I didn’t. He got quiet again and then said, “What am I supposed to tell her? She’s been looking forward to this trip.”

“Tell her the truth!” I said.

“I can’t tell her that,” he said. “She’s going to be mad that I didn’t go because you said not to.”

“You have to tell her,” I said. “You have to cancel the trip.”

“Okay, okay,” he said. “I’ll tell her.”

I was finally able to sleep.

The next day, I was driving down the coast back to San Diego from Los Angeles when my husband called my cell phone.

“You saved my life,” he told me.

“What?”

“You saved my life,” he repeated. “You were right. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it. You were right.”

My husband told me he had just gotten off the phone with a friend of his girlfriend. She and four others had been airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. A car drove into their motorcycle pack while they were riding down Highway 98. Five others were killed instantly, including the person riding behind my husband’s girlfriend — the position where he would’ve been riding. He was excited, happy to be alive, and kept saying, “I can’t believe it; you knew this was going to happen. You knew. You saved my life. You saved my life!” Then he started to cry for his girlfriend, and I actually felt sorry for him. He never told her about my dream. He told her he couldn’t go because of work.

“She’s going to die,” he said.

“No, she’s not,” I interrupted, emotionless and unconvinced.

“How can you say that?” he yelled. “She was hit by a car! Going sixty miles per hour! She was thrown one hundred feet! Her brain’s bleeding! Her vertebrae are broken! Her aortic valve was torn! They had to remove her spleen!” He went on and on.

Part of me was mad that he was crying to me about another woman. And then he had the nerve to ask me to pray for her. I could’ve let him go on suffering, but I took the high road.

“I know she’s not going to die because, in my dream, she didn’t,” I said, without a doubt. “One day, I will run into her, and I will confront her.”

“Really?” he said, joyfully. “Thank you, thank you!”

“Don’t thank me,” I told him. “Thank God. He’s the one who warned you. I just relayed the message.”

My husband’s girlfriend did live. After weeks in the hospital, she got out in a full body brace. And after months of physical therapy, she was walking and riding again. They don’t talk anymore and neither do we, but he e-mailed me on the anniversary of the accident to thank me for saving his life.

~Adrienne A. Aguirre

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