I felt little Liesel crawl over my legs and make her way up to my chest. She snuggled her little sausage body up against me and immediately, I felt this warm blanket of peace cover us both. My dachshund sleeps with me every night; her crawling around, looking for the perfect spot to settle in is not new. She’s done it every night for seven years. What I’ll never forget about this particular snuggle-sesh, is the dream I had while she was pressed into me, keeping my body and heart warm. It was intense. Vivid. I felt it in my body. I lived this dream; in each moment, as if it was actually happening, in my forty-two-year-old body. I was at my parent’s house in the living room, lying on a sleeping bag with one of my best friends. My brother Luke was sitting on the couch, holding this one-of-a-kind book—old and decrepit like the one in The Neverending Story—dated 1571. He kept repeating over and over, “I can’t believe I never saw it before. I can’t believe this book has everything in it; like… how could I believe all I did for that long? There’s no way the Witnesses have the truth—not if this was written in 1571 and JWs weren’t founded till the late 1800s.” He held the book up and shook it, as if the raw truth it contained could fall from its pages and reach us all by osmosis. He sat, beside himself and I swear I felt everything in that one moment—elation, overwhelm, sadness, love, joy, and relief. He had finally come to meet me where I was—where I had been waiting for him. He now finally understood everything I had been trying to get him, and the rest of my family, to understand for years. Their truth is a lie. I just sat on the floor, surrounded by swishy sleeping bag sounds, and nodded. I didn’t once say ‘I told you so’ because I didn’t have to. I was just happy; happy he was finally open to what I’d known all along. He no longer felt like an enemy. Then, my brother Mark came down the hall from their old bedroom. He was carrying a giant stuffed Yoshi plush toy and a bowl of popcorn. He came into the kitchen, poured himself a glass of Pinot Grigio, started boiling water for tea, and picked up the old yellow rotary handset on the wall. “Hey Mark. Whatcha doin’?” I asked, a bit nonplussed by all the things he was managing to hold in his arms. “Calling him. I always thought he liked me and now I wanna find out, because I can.” He said dialing a number. All at once, everything Mark said and did made perfect sense; and while inside my own dream, I psychoanalyzed and instantly understood everything that had played out thus far… Mark had missed out on so much during his 49 years as a Watchtower slave, that he was fitting it all into this one fleeting moment, in my dream. Yoshi represented Mark’s lost childhood; a childhood we all spent knocking on doors. The popcorn, tea, wine and the phoning of an old crush, was him being sure to fit in all his guilty pleasures, no matter what they were, into this tiny window of time. I could feel he knew he was safest here, in my dream. Luke, and his propensity toward analyzing his own mind, was fixed on dissecting how he could’ve possibly let his life pass by for so long, not knowing any better—not knowing anything else. Then I watched him shamefully attempt to forgive himself; I could feel his remorse in my dream.
The three of us agreed that Mom would be an easy sale—convincing her to leave the truth would be quick and painless, especially if the whole family was doing it. The challenge would be Dad. He didn’t have much else he liked about himself; to tell him that his entire life, his whole belief system was a lie, would kill him. Together we weighed the pros and cons—with wine, popcorn, and Yoshi. Then… I woke up. I woke and Liesel was still next to me and I felt this calm that I hadn’t felt before. Maybe it was a one-time thing. Or maybe it was the start of some deep healing and acceptance; my wounded child is ready to face some shit. In this life, I believe there are pre-arranged lessons assigned to each of us. For a long time, I’ve held this notion that we are ancient souls taking up physical space for nothing more than an ephemeral moment.
Time is so precious, and I can only hope I have enough of it left to learn the things I’m supposed to. People come in and out of our lives sometimes for good, and sometimes for a particular season. During those times, we’re meant to learn something, be at peace with something, or maybe teach someone else something. Since that’s been true for me thus far, and I’ve already seen it in action a few times, why should my own flesh and blood be any different? We heavily affected each other, day in and day out in the very beginning of our little lives; we were part of a “family contract,” if you will. Perhaps that’s all we were meant to be in this life. Maybe my dreams of them now are little movie previews for our next life’s lesson together; our next mission as family. Because in this life, I realize my family will probably never leave the JWs; and by now, they most likely know I’ll never go back. So, if I could say just one thing to the boys, specifically, it’d be this: “You are always welcome to live out your heavy doubts and fleeting guilty pleasures in my dreams, anytime. You and your secrets are forever safe with me. Until next time.”