62: Knowing When to Say No

62: Knowing When to Say No

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and the Unexplainable

Knowing When to Say No

Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out.

~Michael Burke

Moving from a small rural town to a larger city to start a new business was hard on our children. They had to leave all their friends and begin all over again. Our older daughter, Jodi, was outgoing and made new friends easily. Our eight-year-old son had plenty of children in the neighborhood his own age. Thirteen-year-old Cindy, however, was at a more awkward age and it was harder for her to make new friends.

We were happy that Cindy had finally found a small group of girls who had common interests and seemed to be respectable young ladies. The father of one friend, BJ, owned a construction business, and since our business was similar, we allowed Cindy a little more freedom to hang out with this group of girls, even though they were older than her, at ages fifteen and sixteen.

One Sunday afternoon, BJ and two other girls from their little group drove up to our home in an open-top Jeep with roll bars. It was a warm spring day, and we had enlisted our children to help with yard work with the promise of going to Dairy Queen afterward. All of us were sweaty and dirty from doing our annual spring cleanup.

BJ had recently turned sixteen and was excited to have passed her driver’s license exam. Her parents gave their permission for her to pick up some friends. They wanted Cindy to join them and make it a foursome for the afternoon. We could see Cindy was envious of their carefree attitude, as these girls came from wealthier and more privileged families.

My husband was about to give Cindy permission to go with her friends when I stopped him. I had an uneasy feeling and I couldn’t really explain it, but I insisted. “We need Cindy to help finish with our yard cleanup. Maybe next time she can join you,” I said to them.

Of course, Cindy was not happy with my decision, but I felt I had no choice.

After we completed our yard work, all five of us piled into our Ram Charger and made a trip to Dairy Queen.

After we picked up our treats at the drive-through, we heard sirens. Then fire trucks and police cars sped by. Being a former volunteer firefighter and EMT, my husband wanted to see what was going on. Since we were just out for a ride, he decided to follow the fire trucks and police cars.

The fire trucks and police cars stopped on a steep curve in the road on the outskirts of town. As we drove by, we stretched our necks and noticed a vehicle rollover. I had to do a double take as I turned and looked at the same vehicle that had been in our front yard a few hours earlier. We said a prayer for the girls involved. We heard the ambulance siren coming behind us, so we drove on out of their way.

It was then I remembered the dream I had the previous night and I realized why I had objected so strongly to Cindy joining her friends.

In my dream I was walking and floating on clouds. I felt exhilarated as I floated along peacefully. Then I saw my father, who had passed away nine months earlier. He was standing in the clouds by a gate, and I saw Cindy float by me and go toward him. He turned and started to go through the gate, and motioned for her to follow. I tried to run after her to stop her from going through the gate with him, but my feet would not allow me to move. I stretched out my arms, and called for Cindy to come back and not go through the gate.

I woke up from that dream very upset and hadn’t been able to go back to sleep, but like many people, I pushed the dream aside and went on with my day. I was so grateful that at least I didn’t push away the feeling of dread that dream had instilled in me.

We found out that evening that Cindy’s friend BJ was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. She was not wearing a seat belt. The other girls sustained injuries but were still alive and were treated by the paramedics on the scene.

Cindy has since become one of the finest police officers in her city’s police department and has received several commendations for her contributions to the department. She has taken many defensive-driving courses and has taught defensive driving to both of her own children.

~Judith Rost

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