BIG DOGS: Irish Elk pursued by Dire Wolves (painting by Znedek Burian)

I was walking through a field on a brightly moonlit night. It was beautiful and very peaceful. I could hear music, and it took me a bit to figure out the song I was hearing: 'I Only Have Eyes For You'. As I crossed the field, the grass became taller. I didn't think much of it, at first, but as I continued on the tall grass became a wooded area. I started to get uneasy; I've had dreams like this before where everything started out by lulling me into a false sense of security. Unfortunately, this was to be one of those dreams. For some reason, I didn't wake myself up. I kept going. The music remained disturbingly soothing, in stark contrast to the unsettling change in my surroundings. I wound up by the edge of a river. Looking down, I noticed a mother duck swimming towards shore with a brood of ducklings in tow. They came out of the water and waddled into the woods, and I noticed they were leaving web-prints behind on the dirt. I followed the prints with my eyes over to a puddle of blood. There was a severed hind leg of a very large deer lying there; then another leg, another, and another. I finally saw the body of the deer in the moonlight; I was certain it was dead. To my horror, it was not. It rolled over and attempted to stand, but it had no legs, and it rolled into the river. As soon as the deer hit the water, the river morphed from gently flowing ripples to a raging torrent. The deer struggled in heartbreaking earnest to keep it's head above water, eyes rolling in terror, bleating in fear. It's head kept going under; it choked and sputtered and bawled pitifully for help. Such a horrific end for such a gentle creature. I watched helplessly as it was swept down the river to it's certain death. I was sobbing, devastated that there wasn't anything I could do to save it. The river vanished. I was left standing in a deserted playground. Swings moving slightly as if there had just been children there. Something wasn't right, so I reluctantly began to investigate. I scanned the playground, and to my renewed horror, I saw two little tennis shoes sticking out of the side of a sandy bluff. I ran up and began clawing frantically at the sand with my hands, trying to get the child out, but the sand filled back in faster than I could dig it out. I was hysterical at this point. Mercifully, I finally woke up, my face wet with tears. My whole life, I've been trying to save my family from themselves. My dad was an alcoholic; he died of liver disease. My brother is a violent alcoholic and an addict. We've been trying to get him to go to rehab for years. My mother has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and an amputated leg from a 50+ year smoking habit. The gentle deer was my mother. The child I was trying to dig out was my brother. I've been watching them destroy themselves for years; watching them suffocate and drown, and no matter how desperately I tried to help them, I was utterly powerless to do so. In the end, I couldn't save them from themselves. That's what the dream was trying to tell me. As devastating and painful as it is to watch them dying, watching is all I will be able to do.

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