The Breakthrough


The helicopter overhead was distant–the propeller’s thumps a low murmur seeping into my mind, stirring up dread, thick and suffocating.

I stood inside my grandmother’s old house and gazed at the peeling yellowed paint on the walls and the layers upon layers of dusty photographs covering every inch. In one black and white photo, a young pig-tailed girl’s face beamed, sitting on her father’s knee, her face forever frozen in mid-laugh. In another– a girl in her teens, blowing out the candles on the cake, her father resting his hand on her shoulder.

A splintered mirror on the wall reflected an older woman. A woman now startled by the creases circling her hollowed eyes and the raw bleeding wounds dotting her scalp.  The wounds my mother gave me.

Hot red anger flashed as my fingers frantically tried to cover them with tufts of matted hair– but there were too many, they just grew and grew, and bled and bled.


A soft breeze blew the front door open, rustling the photos about like leaves.  I shuddered as the leak of fear dripping in my mind ran cold. A rush of wind swelled and the hardwood floor beneath me groaned, each floorboard lifting one by one, rippling like waves. I turned to look out the window.

It was coming.

Lazers of red light pierced through the tiny holes and cracks in the floor, casting blood-orange spots around the room; the thundering pulse of the propeller almost on top of me now.

I opened my mouth to scream, but only a raspy gasp escaped my lips.  The photographs began to flutter and fall to the floor, forming tiny swirling tornados that danced and circled around the room; the blackened edges of each photo curling unto itself until each one disintegrated into a thin gray dust.  Vibrations rippled through me, my body nothing more than an empty shell as the helicopter’s relentless chant filled my ears.


Bracing for impact, I shut my eyes and turned away, the taste of choking dust filling my mouth. It was outside the window now–a spinning black steel spider hanging from an unseen web growing bigger and bigger until it was inches from breaking through the glass.

Suddenly, it stopped to hover, frozen in mid-flight; as if the web’s sinewy thread was pulled taut. I felt a hand on my shoulder. My breath stopped.

It was my father.

Dad. Dad!


I searched his face, unbelieving. He was young again; his face smooth, his smile warm and knowing. A sparkling white light radiated from his eyes.

Don’t be afraid, he said without moving his lips.

I will help you.

Watch me. I’ll show you.

Churning back to life, the helicopter continued its path toward the window. I closed my eyes, imagining it tearing through the house, shards of exploding glass, wood and metal showering down, consuming me in flames.

Look, my dad said. Here, look.

I opened my eyes.

He stepped in front of me and raised one arm, his hand shielding me from the spider. In response, it reversed, the broken shards of wood and glass flying backwards with it.  The thundering pulse of the propeller a soft murmur again as the helicopter vanished into a small black dot swallowed whole by bright blue sky.

I sucked in the air and a sweet coolness spread across my face, into my lungs and down my spine.


I was standing on the precipice of the tallest mountain. Below me, an endless sea of jewels, sparkling blue and green.  I drank in the beauty as it flowed through my veins.

I floated. I was free.

My dad grabbed my hand and smiled. We were back in my grandmother’s house again.

Do you see?

I looked down, wisps of my hair were swirling to the floor like feathers. I tenderly touched my head. My wounds were gone, replaced with pink skin–warm, soft and new.

I do, Dad.  I see.

Thank you.

I looked out the window and into the bright light.

69 thoughts on “The Breakthrough

    1. Thanks, Tar. This is a dream I had last month. I hardly ever dream about my dad much anymore, and if I do, he usually is older and never says anything to me. This was the first time he actually communicated with me so it was very powerful.

      1. Tar-Buns

        I used to keep a dream diary…if I didn’t capture it right away, it would twist, meld and contort to things not so pure as the original missive, that dream of whisps and fears.

  1. So cool! Have you been able to figure out the meaning behind it all? Definitely ends on a positive note- with Dad coming and helping you ?heal old wounds? Love this, even not fully comprehending every nuance.

    1. I am still struggling to figure it out, what all the symbols mean. It was so vivid, I remembered it all and wrote it down as soon as I wokeup.

      A little background (which I think you know about?) my mom and I don’t have the greatest relationship.

      I think the dream symbols are: grandmother’s house/photos=stuck in the past of my childhood
      wounds on my head = my feelings of pain and anger toward my mom and how hurt I am by her actions in the past.
      helicopter= death or unfinished business looming
      my dad=showing me the power I have inside to change and transform my fear of death or my transform my anger toward my mom to something positive and forgiving.

      1. I definitely got the sense that your Dad is telling you that you can easily (as easily as putting up your hand and adding intention) heal the wounds and fears. Yes, I remember about your relationship with your mother. I too am working healing stuff between me and my mother. A continual challenge for me, but some progress is being made. It’s always a process. Have you meditated and asked to be shown meanings? What you said above, with regards to what the symbols mean, makes sense.

      2. you can easily (as easily as putting up your hand and adding intention) heal the wounds and fears.

        You nailed it, Sue! Isn’t that always the way though. We forget we hold the power to change things and it was there all along!

        I haven’t meditated hardly at all lately. Sigh. I really need to get that habit going again. It keeps me grounded for sure. Maybe I will try and meditate later today if only for a few minutes, thanks for the suggestion. I feel so disconnected lately so it might help.

      3. I must say that having been a “reader” in the past, by my summation your encrytped code is correct, adding into it the wump wump of anticipation. That is a big part, because you are anticipating help from your father, upset because your mother wasn’t there to assist you. The best part is where it reverses because you are aware the situation can be undone.

  2. I was right there with you, Darla. So tenderly written.

    It seemed to be saying to me, as an outside observer, that no matter how hard it gets – even if the walls seem to be crashing in on you, everything will be alright. What a great message for Dad to send to you.

    You’re a special one, my friend.

    1. y’know, MJ. This was the hardest post I’ve ever written. And published. Thank you SO much for your comments. They mean a lot. My dad is around and he is helping me in many ways, I know that for sure.

      1. Not yet. I have noticed my spam is out of control lately. I used to get maybe a couple a day. Yesterday I got 55 in a span of 12 hours! And they’re all about New Banana nut muffins or some airline.

      2. I forgot to mention this, but as I was reading this post …
        I kid you not, a helicopter was thump-thump-thumping right there on tv – a story about Marines – as I was reading about the helicopter in your story. VERY weird, huh.

  3. Oh my word. That was a compelling piece if I ever did read one. You write about a dream you had? That’s one fantastic dream. Those are the kind that you mull over for days and days. Glad you thought to bring it to life.

  4. Good gracious, what a dream. I can’t imagine how much you’ve been mulling it over and carrying it around in your head. I can’t presume to interpret something that’s not personal to me, but dreaming about helicopters apparently denotes success; helicopter crashes denote failure or fear of failure and a lack of self-confidence. Seems like your father was trying to tell you he’s able to help you fend off failure or the fear of it. If having him in your life gave you confidence, that might relate. Thank you for sharing this – I’m sure it was difficult.

    1. It was incredibly hard. I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years and this is the first time I had a draft for a post sitting there for over a month because I didn’t have the nerve to publish it. And honestly, I couldn’t get through writing it without crying.

      Your entire comment sent chills down my spine. I had no idea helicopters can mean fear of failure and lack of self-confidence! This is without a doubt what it means in my dream. I’m at a huge crossroads in my life career-wise and this would explain everything because I think that’s my underlying theme in life: fear of failing. THANK YOU so much for telling me that. It makes all the pieces fit now!

      And yes, my dad was my entire foundation growing up (my mom was absent mentally and emotionally) So I’m sure this is what this dream means. Wow, I am just stunned at this revelation. Thanks for giving me your insight.

      1. You’re quite welcome – I’m glad it helped so much. To be clear for the future: it’s helicopters *crashing (or seeming to, in your case) that denote fear of failure. Helicopters flying or taking off denote success. If you have another helicopter dream, the difference may come in handy. Sounds like your dad has your back. What a comfort.

    1. Thank you, Chrissy. Extremely personal dream if there ever was one. I have this huge fear of spiders. My guess is I imagined the helicopter morphing into a spider because it symbolized my general fear in life. Dreams are so fascinating and can tell us so much, it amazes me.

    1. Thanks, Susie. My mom and I have a much more mellow relationship now that she’s almost 80 but let me tell you, it was no picnic growing up. We have butted heads since day one and I have tons of buried anger I’m still trying to work through and let go. It’s an ongoing process for sure.

  5. A dream? Gosh, you record it so vividly. I thought this was a scene from a movie. So many metaphors. Spiders in dreams usually mean good news is coming. But it’s hard to discern the crossover from dream to reality.

  6. Beautiful post, and I assume this was a dream you had? It’s such a gift to dream of our lost loved ones. When I was pregnant and feeling scared out of my mind that something was wrong with our baby (there wasn’t anything wrong), I had the most amazing dream where my grandmother came to me and comforted me. She was thin with dark hair — exactly how she looked when she was young — and it took me a while into the dream to know it was her. But then she hugged me and I knew. I awoke with such a great sense of peace.

    A lovely Father’s Day tribute, Darla.

    1. Oh, that is a wonderful dream, Angie. What a blessing to have your grandmother in your dream! It is weird when deceased loved ones show up looking decades younger. My dad looked about 25 or 30. I almost didn’t recognize him! Most of my past dreams of him he was the age he died, 53. So this dream was truly a breakthrough for me.

      How did you have time to visit me today? You need to go get some sleep and rest your FP-weary eyes.

  7. Darla, to take a dream and put it in to words as wonderfully written as you did is no small feat. This is truly incredible. I want to read it again and again.
    There were many lines I loved, this is just one: “It was outside the window now–a spinning black steel spider hanging from an unseen web growing bigger and bigger until it was inches from breaking through the glass.”

    1. Lenore, you always make me smile. Thank you! It was so hard to write. The hardest thing I’ve ever written. When your emotions are so tied to the words, it’s almost impossible to write without crying. Tears on the keyboard!

    1. Oh, I bet you do, Barb. I am sorry for that. I find it odd that as close as I was to my dad, I don’t dream about him hardly ever anymore. Which is why this dream just smacked me right upside the head and wouldn’t let go. I knew his message for me was an important one. I’ll think of you this upcoming Father’s Day. A holiday that is always tinged with sadness for me.

  8. Damn! Made Ape get all contemplatey and stuff. In the words of the great modern philosopher Snoop Doggie Dog, “That was the Shiznit!”

    Awesome stuff Darla.

    1. Haha! Oh no, contemplatey is a good thing, Ape. Well…maybe not so early in the morning…? Or is this nighttime for you? I can’t remember where you live.

      And thanks, Ape. Shiznit was what I was hoping to get across. This is some big shiznit!

      1. Ape likes contemplatey. I meant Damn! as in “Damn, Latisha, that boy is hotter than a jalapeño pepper!”

        It is getting late at night here in the land of koalas, cork hats, beer, and American reality tv shows.

        1. You poor thing, having to put up with our reality shows! Good thing you have a beer with you to make it slightly more entertaining. It’s not Foster’s by chance? Good stuff. I really like the fact that it’s sold in these giant cans. ALmost like you’re saying to the world: yeah, so what. I’ve had a bad day and I deserve this big fat beer, so sue me.

  9. When I dream of my dad, it leaves me with feelings of something powerful. That is what I got from your post – that you too have been left with powerful emotion. I think you have done a good job analyzing what it means. Great post!

  10. I’m not sure there’s anything I can add here Darla but I feel like I need to try anyway…

    1. You are an amazing girl to be able to write the way you do.
    2. To be blessed with the ability to have and remember such vivid dreams is so wonderful.
    3. It’s a wise soul to be open enough to find the reasons ‘why’.
    and lastly…
    4. The courage you possess to let it all hang out, showing all of us your innards, gives me courage..You are a total inspiration.

    Oh and in an attempt to be some kind of helpful to you – and/or maybe to look half-way smart, I just spent the last wonderful hour looking at inspirational quotes. Time well spent. Thanks!

    Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.

    Have a great rest of the week!

    1. D–your comment truly made my day. Can I tell you how scared I was to post this? Especially considering most of my posts are fluffy in nature. What prodded me to publish it was my dad whispering in my ear that it was okay to show this side of myself. Thank you SO much for all the sweet things you said and I love that quote you put up there. The older I get, the more I want to face my fears head-on and quit hiding my head in the sand.
      I hope you enjoy your weekend!

  11. Beautifully written, Darla. I wonder how you reconcile your fear of failure with the incredible success you’ve had with this blog. Has all of the positive feedback changed the way you see yourself? Whatever the latest crossroads is about, I’m sure you’ll get through it with humor, wisdom, and grace.

    1. Great question, Charles. I’m beginning to realize (as cheesy as this sounds) that this blog has been a real gift to me…all the readers out there giving me positive feedback and encouragement has created a confidence in me I never knew I had. You, especially, have always been there since the early days of my blog and your support has been one of the reasons I continue to blog–I thank you for that, truly.

  12. This is lovely and sad and so well done, Darla.

    Don’t get me wrong; I totally love the funny, as you know. But humor can be a mask that we use to hide faces marked with fear, pain and anger. It was so very brave of you to take off the mask and stand here, vulnerable.

    Damn, girl, you really can write!

    1. Exactly. I think it’s almost necessary to have sadness and tragedy in one’s life to appreciate things and, in turn, causes us to see the absurdities and the funny in life. Comedy/tragedy are really two sides of the same coin.

  13. This was so powerful and moving! At first I wasn’t sure if it was fiction you were working on, but then it became clear it was a dream. WOW. What an amazing message from your dad; I definitely think he was showing you how ‘healing’ is a natural and attainable thing. Thank you so much for sharing this, and what a wonderful Father’s Day tribute!

    1. Thanks so much, Jules! I can’t think of a greater gift from my dad. I often wish he was around to help me in life and teach me lessons but I think now I realize he still can and he still does. A priceless gift.

  14. Darla, this one is the perfect post to prove, how talented you are as a writer. It’s now one of my favorites in your blog, although that post you wrote about your dad is still on top of that list.
    I do not know why, but I am having feeling after reading this post that ,now a days you are working on a novel.

    1. Arindam, thank you so much for your ongoing encouragement. I’m happy you read this and enjoyed it. And you are right, I was working on a novel (now it’s changed into a memoir) I am hoping to have it finished some day, might take a few years!

  15. What a powerful post, Darla! I think your retelling of the dream (as well as your analysis of it) are crisp and on the mark. It even makes ME weepy thinking about your dad coming to you in your dream and helping you fend off danger/move forward with your success. Thank you for such a moving tribute– to dreams, to parents, and to facing our fears. The response to this post alone should give you an indication that you are a talented writer immersed in a very supportive and engaged community!

    1. Thanks, Dana! There are some pretty big themes crammed into this dream.

      We are lucky to have this community, aren’t we? I can’t thank you guys enough for being there and reading my stuff. What an incredible opportunity we all have here. When I published this I thought, did I make a mistake? But now I see I did the right thing after all. Whew! It was so hard to do but then, I realize I couldn’t ask for better readers, you guys really lift me up.

  16. singleworkingmomswm

    Wow, this was awesome. I, too, am so glad you were able to recollect it in writing and were willing to share it. I don’t think words born from fiction could have created such an intense connection between fear and moving forward. Totally, totally, awesome. I’m grateful that not all dreams are this powerful, only because I think we’d be exausted by the, but to have this type of connection every now and again is great therapy! XOXO-SWM

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