Dreams, and my Mom

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My Mom passed a few days ago. There is much to be said about her, I loved her very much. But I am going to write about a dream I had. My Mom’s passing is the end of one story but the beginning of some others.

Last week, my Mom lie resting in an exceptionally loving hospice center in another state, where her care included live harp music. My sisters sent me videos, I listened to her breathe and saw her face, different than it used to be, but still deeply familiar. I listened for text notifications as I taught my art classes. At home, my son helped me make an altar including the quilt she had made for Susanna, still resting on her bed, and candles, in hopes she could see the light on her way.

The last morning, before her death, I woke from a painful dream. It went like this: I was trying to type in a request for a substitute teacher on the “Subcentral” website, which had to be sent 90 minutes before school started at eight. I missed the deadline and was frustrated in my hectic morning household. This could have been a real- life situation. However, in this dream world there were four people present and Susanna had never died. That was certainly not the painful part.

In the dream, I went to get my French Bulldog, Zorro, who had been sleeping in his bed. He was alive, but he was obviously ill and covered with a disturbing orange bodily fluid of unknown origin. I scooped him up and ran with him to a set of spiral stairs, knowing I needed to descend the stairs and try to save him. I wanted my mother to help me, and screamed for her, but I knew that she was dead. This fact struck me painfully, I woke up with it. I did make the Subcentral deadline, but was left with this dream of Zorro, with the orange liquid, and myself screaming for my mother who was never to be there again.

This dream, I knew, was really about Susanna. Forgive me the graphic nature of this, but in waking life, Susanna was covered with orange liquid when we found that her heart had stopped, after the rupture of the aneurysm. I never have known the medical reason for this. There was more liquid as her father and our neighbor resuscitated her with CPR, and I fumbled to call the ambulance and run screaming for help into the street. After I helplessly watched my daughter die in the hospital the next day, I wanted to return home and scrub that liquid from my floor, to be rid of it. I did that. I also looked at her dirty clothes in the hamper and wondered aloud what I was to do with them. I washed them, folded them, and put them away in her drawers. What else could I do?

 

I have been grateful for the opportunity to raise a puppy the last few months. Zorro has thrived. The dream illuminated in me some of my deepest fears. Inside, I have felt inadequate and undeserving. What type of mother cannot save her little girl from death? How could the universe trust me to care for even a dog? How could the universe trust me to mother my son?

I called out, in my dream state, for my mother. No mother can save anyone from imminent death. Mothers do save their children, from illness or accidents, often. But when a person needs to leave, love of any kind does not stop this. I could not save Susanna.  I could not save my mother as she spent the last years of her long life descending into dementia. That was not fair. These are the things we experience; these are the things that humans bear.

Six times now, I have crossed through Susanna’s birthday without her. I miss her terribly every day and have accepted a certain level of terminal sadness. What a gift though, to learn so much about healing. Dream language comes from the deep places, the ones that connect to the divine. The earth, the past, the dreams of everyone the earth has welcomed home before us.

Yesterday, it was hard to hold a close view of a casket draped in flowers again, from the front row of a church and a cemetery. But once again there was the presence of family and friends from long ago. Some of us commented on how we should get together more often, not just for a funeral. We stood in small circles, and in the spaces between us, I am sure stood all the loved ones passed on. Their shoulders secretly touched ours and they silently nursed us through the day. There were ancestors there, perhaps even angels. This may be my personal interpretation and different than someone else’s, but the point is that we are not alone. We are not born alone, we do not die alone, and this is far from all there is.

Last night I had another dream. I was baking a chocolate cake. I had been given instructions by an employer who wanted to try a new recipe, one that was supposed to be simple but delicious. There were special notes handwritten in a script that resembled my mother’s. Again, I struggled with a deadline, but I woke to the dark sweetness of life. My daughter and my mother are somewhere else today, but I am still here. I will talk to them, certain they will hear me.

 

 

 

War?

It is the biggest battle, the battle with the self. I see it everywhere. People fighting, obsessing, causing strife. People working hard to create a pretense. I see it, on a clear day, as the fight we come here to witness and attempt to resolve. I especially include myself. I want to be finished, emerging as an airy wisp of completion. I have little interest in being a warrior anymore. Yet here I am, sitting on my horse for another day, holding a sword. I have come here with things to do until the last day, and then I will do what comes next, eternally.

I say this because no one has told me not to be sad anymore. No one has told me they are tired of hearing about my little girl, or the pain which does not follow me like a shadow, but more accurately lives within all of my cells as a part of me. Maybe, people might think this, which is not of my concern. Maybe, some people have long ago moved on and remember Susanna as an occasional passing thought. I think about her every minute. When I do not know I think about her, my heart thinks for me during the seconds in between. This is my job because I am her mother. This does not change with death. She is outside of the line of vision for most people, but never for me.

Last night I dreamt that Susanna was here with me, in our place of strength in the kitchen. I consider this part of my kitchen a power vortex. Here, we used to bake and cook together as she stood on a chair. We opened the jars of herbs and spices just to inhale. The magic surpasses the recipes. Supernatural events have occurred there which I will save for another day. Instead, dwell on the picture of Susanna sticking her hands into flour and savoring what that felt like on her fingers.

During the dream, I knew she had died but I had never lost sight of her. I was explaining this to various people, this fact that I could see her all of the time. I was greeted with some perplexed faces but I was heard and believed. The question I had was: “Can’t I send her to school? I can see her. I can touch her. I have not lost a thing.”. When I woke up, only for a second, I saw a shape by my bed. I do not know in which dimension it was, but it was Susanna. She was there to show me that she did not go away, and I believe her.

There have been many times in my life when I have felt like it was my purpose to shine pure hope and optimism over others, exuberantly. I love that. I am proud of that. But I no longer wait to be restored to something I used to be. While we are all still hanging around in linear time we go forward, we cannot unsee what we have seen. We cannot return to an earlier state without carrying all the wrinkles and the history. I will rise to the challenge of whatever battles present themselves today, and my biggest hope will be to battle with grace. Like a sage. Like a crone. Like the person who has grown streaks of silver hair and has cracks in her heart, like me.