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.




Holding Space


My son was sitting on the bench with me at the playground, like Susanna used to do. He did not see anyone suitable to play with. Then, the little girl arrived, followed by the rest of her family. Curly dark hair in a ponytail, fluffy tutu with flats, spring in her step, about five or six. She entered in a cloud of Susannaness.
My Significant Other arrived to play with our grateful son. He struck up a conversation in Spanish with the father and tried to illicit a soccer game with the girl, who declined for more girly pursuits. But we did catch her name. It was not Susanna, did not start with S, or sound alike. This disappointed me. I wanted more illusion. I wanted to be another step closer to what used to be, even though it would not be that.
The life of the bereaved is full of paradox. My child is so clearly with me, whispering in my ear, yet her absence is deafening. My life has become a stopover for a broader journey, yet I am stuck here with years of longing ahead. Nothing is the same, but my precious son is still growing and thriving under my care. The sunny green and blue of May still fill my eyes and heart, yet part of me cowers from the magnitude of sadness which will always be there. Like life, death a mystery bigger than I can understand.
I can try to understand, and day by day I understand some things more. I think I understand the concept of “holding space”, which I never thought much about until yesterday. It is something like “saving a seat” for someone by putting your coat over a chair, but you do it while they are sitting with you. You acknowledge the space they need by covering them with acceptance and tolerance and deference to what they need to go through. This is the greatest gift to give another. This is real love, and it spans beyond time and dimension.
In my mind and heart, I build small palaces for Susanna and myself. We arrange cut flowers and spread golden tapestries and pastries stuffed with sweet pink cream. We set up lounge chairs where we will bask in eternal sunshine. The world I live in is real, but so is the goddess temple of my dreams. There is a kinder place, to hold some space. Save a spot for me, Susanna, and I will always set a place for you wherever I go.


pisa new

In light of my recent dizziness issues I took a “tilt table test” last week. My fears about it had grown enormous, but it was not that bad.

The tilt table is reminiscent of the strap-laden plank in Frankenstein, the old film, which held the new monster as he was lifted and electrified into life. That one was replicated in the episode of The Munsters during which Herman Munster was restrained for self-control purposes while dieting. I digress.

I was attached to an IV (“just in case of emergency”), Velcro- strapped to the table and tilted to a standing position at a seventy degree angle for about twenty minutes. The same angle as the Tower of Pisa. There was even a print of the Tower of Pisa on the wall, which I found hysterically funny.

The reason I am telling you this is because it has to do with healing. My test was positive, which means that at the twenty minute point my blood pressure dropped very low. This made me feel like I was dying. My lips were sweating, my whole body (rather than just my stomach) was deeply nauseous and I fell into a huge panic and all out pain which made me scream to be put back down. Really, this part was bad, but it lasted only a few seconds. The recovery my body made instantly when lying flat was glorious. My headache was gone, I was breathing well and I felt a beautiful sense of safety and relief. I wondered if something painful had been shaken loose and released. I cannot explain this, but this is what happened.

The headache I mentioned had developed on my way to the city for the test. Lack of coffee and food, fear of the unknown, fear that I was on the brink of a fatal heart attack, fear that I would faint somewhere on the Manhattan concrete stairs or sidewalks I was navigating. My head pounded and I felt deprived of oxygen. I felt barely present. While I was in the waiting room getting permission to take ibuprofen a man walked in who looked, dressed and moved like my father. My father passed nearly a decade ago after years of heart disease. Briefly, I saw Dad in my mind and heard him say, “Don’t worry, you will be okay. This is not your time.” This was the point where I was ushered through the experience with kindness, from both human nurses and forces from beyond.

I am choosing to make this a summer of healing. My heart has been deemed healthy and the low blood pressure issue can be treated with basic self-care. I am seeing various healers. Some are medical doctors and some are healers who can talk to me about spirit and soul. I am drinking much more water (key for the vasovagal issue) and cooking healthy food. I am drawing on everything that has ever helped before. Clearing and cleansing my house, my mind. Asking my heart to open and let down the shields which have protected me for this past year. Soaking up the love that follows me, talking out loud to the bubble of love which engulfs this house I share with my two beautiful, favorite men. They love me from earth and Susanna loves me from that glorious bubble.

As I was falling asleep last night Susanna was with me for my first dream. The four of us, my family, were sitting down to claim our table and chairs on a cruise ship. I woke up a bit startled. On edge, sorting out some of the fears I live with. I needed to establish that we were all there and okay. I miss her every second, but I knew she was there. We had time, before I woke up, to get comfortable for our journey to somewhere. Every part of the course, every tilt and wave, we will be together and never alone.