The baby monitor crackles to life; the baby is babbling and scooting. Awake.
I open my eyes and try to breathe, but the air isn't air at all. It is dark water, and I'm going under.
A recurring dream floats around in my subconscious, waiting for uncertainty in my daily life before striking at night. It's a lurker. It never quite dissipates.
There is a fast-flowing creek. The water is clear and cold, running over slippy rocks and tangled roots before pooling under an outcropping of trees. There, the rush and flow stills. This place is dark and murky, clouded with just-disturbed mud. Despite the nearness of clear water, I always, always choose the muddy pool. I wade in slowly, digging my toes into the earth, seeking....the right place. Or the right moment.
I lean forward and ease my chest down into the water -- so cold -- gasping for one last breath of air before going under, eyes open. I search the darkness, watching the way an arm of sunlight allows its bones to be broken by the rippling surface. Down here, I float and twist, looking for something that's hiding just beyond my memory.
It's taking too long, though ,and my lungs are seizing up; I need oxygen. I turn back to the surface but even before I do, I already know: the surface is gone. There is only water -- miles and miles of water -- and the pool isn't in a shallow creek, it's at the cold bottom of a lake. Reckless now, I use precious energy to find a source of air. I scream and thrash. Finally, my lungs are empty. Imploding. Shadows creep in around the edges of my vision and my fingers go numb.
There is only one option left, and I'm too tired to resist it. Stilling my arms and legs, I inhale. One tiny sip of water after another, I breathe in, waiting for it to sear and burn.
But it's the strangest thing: the water is breathable. I frown and try for more, feeling desperately hopeful. Gulps won't work -- I'll drown if I try anything more than a small sip, but those are precious and I don't mind. The water is still over my head, the sunlight is still jagged and blue, the pressure is still crushing, and whatever I'm searching for is still nowhere to be seen.
But I am alive. I can breathe. I can do this.
I roll towards the children and see: hair that is the same color as my own, eyes that frown in a mirror of my own. They have nowhere to go but here, and the thought tugs at my blood: of course they don't. They are part of me. They belong right here.
I take a sip of the day -- something tiny and vital -- and find that I can breathe without drowning. I sit up and kiss each girl on the forehead (sip) before getting out of bed (sip) and speaking about kindness and expectations (sip). I open the baby's door and he squeals in delight (sip). The girls rush in behind me to smother him with kisses (sip) before tumble-weeding out to the kitchen.
I open the shades (sip). The sun shines in (sip).
I can do this.
We're seeing the Bigger Picture through simple moments -- moments that force us to stop and take notice of the ways our worlds are important, meaningful, and beautiful. Please join us at Jade's place today! Grab the button, link up, and read a few others to encourage them as they find the fullness in the simple.