Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dreams Starring My Mother

Friday morning: In the first dream my mother is dying, just like in November. She’s in a big room, and I’m looking for an outlet to plug in an extension cord because the nurse told me to. I’m not sure what it’s for, I’m just doing what I’m told. The good daughter, for once. My mother is in bed, dying. Conscious part of the time, asleep the rest. People are coming and going, and when I wake up I’m not sad that my mother is dead. It wasn’t a sad dream, it was just a dream about my mother dying, and I’m left with the feeling that this is how I get more time with her. How can more time with my mother not be a good thing?

Saturday Morning: In the other, my mother is dying, just like in November. Except she awoke, sat up, though carefully, as if the cancer were controlling her movements. She touches her hair with her left hand, and it’s puffy at the sides, and she says something about her hair. She hadn’t been happy with her hair in real life, not in years. It had thinned considerably, so she always wore hats. “It’s okay, Mom, it’s beautiful,” I tell her. I don’t know if it helps, but she smiles for me.

In the next room is someone else’s mother. It’s a large house we’re in, not the house Mom died in, which was her own, but her own in another way. It’s a dream after all, I can’t make a lot of sense of it. The other mother has taken to her bed, and doesn’t ever come out. I forget about the other mother because, well, I never see her, and she’s not my mother. I feel bad for forgetting about her. No one knows what’s wrong with the other mother, other than that she won’t wake up and get out of bed.

Other things go wrong in my dream. I plan a long trip, I’m turned away by people who should have welcomed me, I’m inconvenient. This is uncomfortable, at best. But the part about my mother is not uncomfortable. I spend more time with her, and she wakes up enough to decide we’re all going somewhere.

Just like she did a week before her final descent. I should say ascent, shouldn’t I? If we’re going by theology that is. I wasn’t there yet, but those who were say she decided she’d go to the casino, and so they all went, and Mom had a good time. The month before I’d been there, and she hadn’t seemed strong enough, or awake enough, to go anywhere. She wanted that last time out.

So in the dream we all get ready to go somewhere with Mom. She’s dying, and she knows she’s dying, but that isn’t a reason to not do what she wants. And why should it be? If you can’t do what you want when you’re dying, when CAN you do it?

Of course there’s logistics, but let’s leave that aside for now.

I wake up from my dream having spent more time with my Mom. Twice in two days I’ve been able to spend more time with her, as if she’s still here, close by.

They don’t ever leave us completely, do they? We’re left, if we’re lucky, with the best parts, the stuff that made them who they were. It’s ephemeral, isn’t it? But it’s there, the best parts, and all we have to do is accept it. If we’re lucky, they come to us in our dreams, and we have the one thing there’s never enough of: time. More time to spend with the people who’ve left. It wasn’t us they left, their absence from our lives is just a byproduct of their journey. They never really leave us. 

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