Everybody slept in my house. I snuck into my bed after spying on the brilliant and giant glowing full moon outside of my garage.
Then I had a dream. A work dream.
I was in a room with two girls. We played the board game, “Sorry.” The school aged girl bounced her giggly little toddler sister up and down, on and off of her lap. Her spunky high-ponytailed sister gladly interfered with our game. She grabbed the game pieces and moved them all over the board. Time and time again. I told the older girl how great of a big sister she was. She patiently moved the pieces back each time after her little sister rearranged them.
We played and talked. The little sister playfully pinched me and loved my overreaction. “Owwwww.” It didn’t hurt.
Then, I paused.
I remembered why the big sister, still so little and innocent staring up at me, had come to the hospital.
I needed to tell the big sister something important. Something that was a little hard to say.
I shared with her how I get the chance to work with all sorts of brave kids in the hospital. I told her about some kids that need stitches or others that break their arms and need a cast. I told her that a lot of kids, like her, have to do really hard things in the hospital. Things that hurt or make kids feel uncomfortable. Weird things like peeing in a cup. Or getting a bit of their blood taken from their veins through a tiny tube. She listened intently and nodded as I talked. She paid close attention as she focused her big kind eyes right on mine.
Then, I exhaled.
I told her that me and my friends that work at the hospital believe that some of the bravest kids we ever meet carry around a kind of hurt that happened but doesn’t show up on the outside of their skin. Hurt that was caused when a grown up did something awful. Things a grown up should never have done. I talked about how it’s really hard and worrisome to carry a secret around. As a grown up and especially as a kid. I talked about how a grown up is supposed to protect, love and take care of kids and keep them safe, not hurt them.
I told her that we were all extremely proud of her for telling that a grown up had hurt her. And then I told her that she was one of the bravest. And I said it with the kind of sincerity that brought tears to my eyes and put a big lump in my throat. The kind that makes it a little hard to talk. I think I said it because I truly meant it. And because it’s true.
And then I woke up to go to the bathroom.
I looked out the window at the dark after midnight sky. The moon had moved west. It was no longer big, bright and beautiful.
Something had changed since I had fallen asleep.
It seemed sad, angry, frustrated and disappointed. It seemed like it longed to hide underneath a lump of dark grey clouds.
Maybe that was just me.
The dream was too real. If not for the little girl’s beauty and resilience, it would have been a nightmare.
Or the kind of dream you hope to never have again. Ever.