Excerpt: Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story

A mother and her teenage daughter hugging.
A mother and her teenage daughter hugging.

Excerpted from Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy. Available from Vanguard Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2012 by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy

Where It Begins

"I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened." -- Mark Twain


Everything begins with fire.

Then me alone, age 14-and-a-half. Not used to being all on my own.

I'm in a dark place, a very dark place. Everything is burning around me, just burning.

I run.

I run so fast for the window it's like I'm flying! But I don't seem to get there any faster. I see
the tree, my escape, my only means of survival. My heart is pounding in my ears, throbbing repeatedly like the sound of bass drums.


The glass shatters and down I fall; but wait, where is everyone?

I turn to see all I hold dear, burning, all that I love wasting away right before my eyes. The
pain is too much to bear. I'm so helpless. How could I be so helpless? The tears begin to swell -- with a pressure behind my eyes -- fighting so hard to break down that dam I've built, to let the flood run through.

In the dream, I can't stop the force and finally give in, breaking as the steady flow of giant-sized tears make their way down my face.

In my safe and secure life, I shake myself awake, slowly lifting my head off my "sweet dreams" pillowcase as I reach for the ready box of tissues at my bedside.

The bewildering part is that this isn't the first time I've had this nightmare. But it is the first time I let the feeling of loss coax the tears from my eye sockets, opening the floodgates I've been so desperately holding back for days.

Just a bad dream, I tell myself, catching my breath.

Just a bad dream.

Of course. But then why do I keep dreaming about fire? And why does it seem so real, like a serious warning -- a symbol of looming danger, a sign of impending doom?

I mean, dreams rarely come true in real life, right?

They rarely, if ever, come true, that's fair to say.

Except in our family, apparently. For better and for worse.