Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Dream About Life and Death

I had a dream, and when the alarm went off it still felt so real that I could barely wake up. My Mother was there, in my dream, but it wasn't a setting I was familiar with. It was a house, at first, and there were other family members there, and we were caring for my Mom, who had cancer and was dying. In that respect it was like life itself, except in the past.

Mom was cheerful about her looming death. This was like real life too. She didn't show us any regret or sadness, she talked bravely about her new adventure, and we fluttered around her in our attempts to make her comfortable. It was all we could do, you see, and there was nothing else to be done for it.

Mom and I went somewhere, for some reason, one of those places and reasons that pop up in dreams and make sense at the time, but in the light of full consciousness are meaningless, and can't ever be recalled. It didn't matter. I was taking Mom somewhere and making her comfortable. As we waited for drinks and food at the counter of a deli the people behind us grew impatient. I'd asked for tea for Mom, and the owner gave me a tea bag and a small amount of hot water, not nearly enough to fill the cup. I asked for more. Our supplies were mounting on the counter, and the people behind us grew more impatient and started making sounds. And this is odd, but one of the sounds they made was that they were servicemen and servicewomen, from the Air Force no less, and who were we to make them wait?

Who were we? Mom wasn't there with me. I'd had her sit down so she could be more comfortable.

Who were we? I told them I'd been in the Air Force myself, thank you very much, and so had my Mom, thank you very much (the first part is true, the second part is not, but when I went into the Air Force my mother, though
she'd never said a word against it, fretted and worried, as mothers will. She worried about me, not knowing exactly how I was. It was long ago, and our exchanges were by mail, not email, so there was a delay, like the time I
had surgery and without knowing what was going on she'd called the Red Cross, who called my commander, who sent the first sergeant out to my house in rural Germany where I was recovering from my surgery to tell me to please get in touch with my mother before she drove them all bonkers with her questions. So, in that sense, my mother was also in the Air Force, wasn't she?

Anyway, that seemed to quiet them down. For added emphasis, I told them, "And my mother has cancer and is going to die soon, so just shut up!"

That worked. That word has so much power over us, doesn't it?

Later I looked for a comfortable place for us to sit, out of the sun. Mom poked around at a bed that was part of an outdoor display, but it was all cushy and soft, like a water bed, and far too much movement for her, with cancer. The salesman tried to sell her on the benefits of the bed, and Mom, in her bathrobe, told him it was just too soft for someone who was going to die soon, and she said it with a smile and a twinkle in her eye that indicated she knew what a fine joke it was, and he let up.

We found a place to sit, and we drank our tea and ate our snacks, and we talked about life and death and the price of fruit, or something equally innocuous.

And so when the alarm went off I woke up reluctantly, wanting to stay with my Mom, knowing that when I did wake up she'd be gone, and has been gone since November. But I dragged myself awake, knowing that Mom wouldn't want me to stay when I had so much of life to get through, and there's so little time to waste.

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