Last night, the last thing I read before I fell asleep was a photojournalism article on the refugee caravan.
I dreamed that I was packing a little suitcase — the smallest one, the lightest one, with wheels. Very distinctly and deliberately chosen because my oldest child could manage it, if necessary. My husband was putting things into the suitcase: extra socks, extra underwear. His eyes met mine as he slipped cash into a hidden pocket, and I nodded. I held out a small stuffed toy to him.
“We don’t –” he started.
“Please,” I said. He put it in.
I gathered up medicine. Labeled it as clearly as I could: pain, fever, cough. I was doing that because my oldest could definitely follow those simple words safely. My husband was putting other things in — I don’t remember now, only that they were important.
My eyes fell on a jar next to my bed, filled with small, flat stones, with words on them. I reached in and grabbed a handful and started selecting some — more than two, so more than for my children, then. My friends children, too? All of us? There was a growing sense of urgency, of hurry, and I selected quickly but I was fiercely determined, this had to be done. I had to give them these words.
The stones were white, the words etched in black. Lots of them said LOVE. A few said BRAVE. Names and faces came to mind. I know that my plan was to put a stone, a word, as deep as I could into the pocket of each child, my own and those I loved as my own.
My youngest must not have been reading age yet, in my dream, because I chose a stone with a picture of a cat for her. I hoped it would be some small comfort, because we were fleeing, and leaving her beloved pets behind. I pictured her tiny hand wrapped around it, holding on.
In my dream, I was preparing to be separated from my children, so I was desperate to give them something to hold on to.
My alarm went off, and I sobbed in the shower.
I won’t pretend that the refugee crisis isn’t global, or complicated, or that it’s going to be easily solved.
But this much I know: Right this minute, there are terrified fathers, mothers, and children willing to risk being separated, willing to risk their lives and the lives of their children because staying put is even more terrifying, even riskier.
If these people are your “worst nightmare” . . .
Then, my friend, your dream is the wrong dream.