You’d only been alive five years, but you carried an old soul. I caught glimpses of it every time your wide eyes turned to me full of ancient wisdom. You made the most of your intellectual abilities with your witty comments and kind advice, but I know your blessings often troubled you. No one would take you seriously until years later, and you were aware of that. To the world, a small child is all you were. But not to me. You were never “just a kid” in my eyes. To me you were the greatest person in the universe and I thanked the Lord that I knew you every single day. But that’s probably also because I’m your mother and nothing could ever alter what I think of you.
On this particular day you were especially upset. You’d started going to school and were struggling to adapt to such an unfamiliar environment. We were sitting side by side on a short red brick wall out the front of the large concrete area before the classrooms and office buildings. Your legs didn’t quite reach the ground yet and you swung them, kicking the bricks against the backs of your heels with a stubborn wrinkle above your nose that drew together a frown between your brows which wouldn’t budge, despite my best efforts. You were silent, but for the occasional huffing of your little sighs.
The schoolbell chimed and suddenly the whole court was a blurred frenzy of scurrying children. The pitter- patter of small feet was met with squeals and laughter which flew down corridors and into classrooms, leaving the concrete area empty, but for a few lonely chalked hopscotch lines and a missing shoe.
I stretched and began to stand, reaching for your bag, but your tiny hand grabbed desperately at mine. There were those wide eyes again. They had a sadness behind them which didn’t belong there and I wanted nothing more than to wipe it away with my thumb, the way I would a smudge on your cheek. Don’t go, they pleaded. I sat back beside you and leaned down a little closer. “Okay, Mister. What’s up?” You screwed your wrinkled nose up tighter and I kissed it, trying to release some tension from your worried head.
“I don’t want to go to school,” you finally confessed, slouching your shoulders. I smiled and rubbed your back.
“Well I’m sorry, Darling, but you have to. You need to learn things and grow big and smart.” You shot me a dark look with a single eyebrow raised. It was like staring into a mirror.
“Learning is dumb,” I stopped you there.
“Learning is not dumb. Education? Maybe,” I corrected. “But learning is brilliant, my son. And this here,” I nodded in the direction of his classroom. “This is a place of learning. There’s a lot your teachers can help you with,”
“My teachers?!” You seemed appalled. “They can’t even say my name properly!” And you spoke your name slow and sarcastically. “I’m smarter than all of them!”
“I know you are,” I smiled. I really meant it too. Gosh, I adored you and your beautiful mind.
I went to pick up your backpack again. This time you let me. You hopped off the wall and I crouched down and slipped the straps over your shoulders. I really didn’t know how to take your pain away, but I wished I could’ve. We paused a long moment in silence, the way we often did, eye to eye. You studied my face, I’m not sure what for. But then you nodded, as if you suddenly had gained some deeper understanding of the whole situation, and flung your arms around my neck. “I love you, Mummy.” And that was that. You filled my heart with a tender warmth and when you released me from your sweet embrace I smiled at you, brushed a few strands of dark hair away from your eyes and told you that I loved you most in the wide world and that I was proud of you. I’ve never meant anything more than that.
“And hey,” I added before you bounded off, “Just let those silly teachers believe they’re smarter than you, ay?” I winked and your frown dissolved into a cheeky grin. You pounded my knuckles with your little fist and skipped away.
I watched you leave, but before you had even reached the corridor my eyes snapped open. I rolled over in an empty bed, confused and shaken. In the next room I heard my flatmate boiling the kettle for breakfast. I rubbed my tired eyes and slipped into my robe before shuffling out to greet the sunlight.
“Morning!” He cheerfully planted a kiss on my forehead and handed me a full coffee mug which I raised to my lips gratefully.
“Hey…thanks…” I couldn’t quite manage words yet.
“Everything okay?” He must’ve noticed the confusion still lingering on my sleepy face. I stepped outside and lit a cigarette.
“Crazy dream…” reality was still catching up to me.
“Was it about her again?” My other flatmate interrupted. I hadn’t realized she’d been laying on the couch this whole time. I shook me head.
“No. In this dream I had a son.” And I went on to describe to them my dream.
I’d often dreamed of Nevaeh. To this day I still do. She would’ve been starting school this year. About the age of the boy in my dream. But this boy, as familiar and real as he seemed, was a stranger to me in the “real world.” I tried to absorb what was going on but it felt almost as though a piece of me was missing. I couldn’t quite convince myself that my son didn’t exist because I really felt that I knew him; his appearance, behavior, I even knew his name… I knew his name! I told my flatmates as soon as I realized this.
“Never heard of it, but it sounds beautiful.”
“Neither have I, I wonder what it means.”
Eventually the dream became lost in the back of my mind. Occasionally I would wonder about the boy, and if he’d visit me again in my sleep one day. But after ten months I’d given up thinking about it. That is, until one night, when I was back in New Zealand, and I happened to see him one more time. Only this time, the boy was much younger.
In this dream, which I was fully aware it was, I held him, a tiny newborn, cradled in the crease of my arm. I remembered his dark hair and olive skin and his tiny button nose. But most of all, I remembered those familiar old wide eyes. They gazed up at me for a moment and I was filled once again with warmth. And then he was gone.
I didn’t tell anybody about that dream, but only a week or two later, following a series of unfortunate events, I ended up alone in a hospital bed. Before I’d seen the scans or test results, before I even heard the footsteps of the doctor coming down the hall, I knew. All the dreams made sense. I saw the doctor’s lips moving, but someone else was speaking right to my soul.
You will bear a man child. I have shown him to you. You know his name. Love and protect him. He has so much to give.
Another two weeks had passed. Already I knew exactly what was happening to my body. It was preparing itself to welcome him. Finally I would meet the boy from my dream. I was in a shopping mall in a bookstore looking for stationery. I happened to pass a shelf of parenting books; books on pregnancy, raising teenagers, yoga for toddlers… I ended up grabbing a book of baby names off the shelf and skimmed my thumb over the pages. I opened up the book in my hands to the first random page my thumb landed on.
And straight away, there it was; his beautiful name, printed in five perfect letters neatly across the page. Beside it I read of its Arabic origin, and there was also a meaning. It read:
“Blessed, or “wide eyes,” meaning he possesses deep inner vision.”
Every sign has led me closer to him. I have never forgotten. I have loved him since before I had ever seen his face. Before I knew he was real or growing inside of me. I’ve waited so long to meet the boy from my dream. My blessing. My miracle. My son.