By God’s grace, I have never been in a life threatening situation, at least not one I can remember or am consciously aware of. However, my time at Mary Help was emotionally stressful. For the longest time, I was confident that I was going to die before age eighteen. I had no disease or death threats. I was not suicidal. I was just confident that I was going to die at a very young age. I believe a lot of those fears began after a dream I had in February around the age of thirteen, which was my freshman year of high school.
Although high school was not too far into the past, it is still difficult to remember all of the details of the dream by sifting through ten years worth of memories. I do remember being on a beach. By this age, most of my dreams are from my point of view. The view was golden hazy. On the beach was a wooden playground where a group of black teens and I played and relaxed. Suddenly, an older white man, wearing country clothing, in other words, the usual stereotype of what a southern white supremacist would look like, appeared with a rifle. You can tell he was on a mission. Like a viral police versus minority teens video, we scattered. I heard the shot go off. I did not feel the bullet, but I hid behind the jungle gym and things went silent. Although the idea of getting shot is terrifying in and of itself, the feeling I felt afterwards was scarier. This was a silence unlike any other, and darkness. The constant hum of existing, like the sound of your breath, your heartbeat, your conscious menial thoughts, your emotions, were all silenced. From the darkness, slowly emerged a light that began to grow and a feeling of peace. Silent peace.
I woke up with a wet feeling down the back of my neck. Still shook, I felt the back of my neck as if the bullet transferred from my unconscious to my reality. To my relief, it was just sweat. I don’t know what death feels like, thank God, but I could imagine it being something similar to what I felt, or didn’t feel, in that dream.