Still drowning

artwork by  Mark AC

artwork by Mark AC

I few nights ago, I woke up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath. I settled back against the pillow, my heart pounding in my chest. Impending doom sent shivers down my spine. My husband slept soundly. I eventually dozed off, the nightmare forgotten.

Later in the day, however, it resurfaced. An eerie and unsettled feeling like I was out at sea.


I entered the living room of an apartment I didn’t recognize. There were family members present, but for the life of me, I could not place this home. Its unfamiliarity unnerved me more than the raging ocean outside. It roared, the water violently moving, threatening, the wind whistling all around us. Then suddenly I was seated at a dining room table. I could still see the ocean through windows. I was afraid, but kept eating. Suddenly the water crashed through the glass, pummelling down the doors. We were quickly submerged and swept out of the building. The whole city was gone, all underwater. We were battling to survive—to swim, to hold on.

Then the wave came and crashed into me. And I died.

Again and again, the dream repeated.


What troubled me wasn’t so much that I died, but the feeling of being thrown out to sea with nobody to save me, no land in sight. Only the force of brutal waves.

Sometimes the soul bleeds and there is no way to stop it.

Curling into my husband’s side, I wept.

Why me? Why did it have to be my baby?

"Don't be afraid to cry. It will free your mind of sorrowful thoughts." —Hopi


I imagine Zia and I talking across a fire. She sits cross legged, smiling, a hot cup of cocoa in her hands. I am enthralled by her presence. I am the student, the listener. I imagine Zia and I hand in hand by the ocean. I look back and see our footprints, one bigger than the other. When I look back, she is gone.

It is all in my head, the stories I create. It’s what I do on days like today, as the tears fall. I wonder if she was a figment of my imagination, but no. It was all real. She was real. Five years on, I am sometimes afloat, my head above the water. Other times, I am still drowning.

Do you find the emotional labour of loss tries to sort itself out in your dreams?