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Life, Death, and Dreams

January 7, 2016


In my dreams, my mother is still alive.

Almost like she had never gone. She figures into my midnight fantasies in a profoundly normal way. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes I find her annoying. Sometimes, she is simply there, as if she had never left at all.

Long ago, Mom used to tell me that she made her grandmother promise to come back and haunt her after she died. My great-grandmother, Velma, had been more of a friend than grandmother, and the two were inseparable until Velma finally moved on at the age of 97. Velma was not afraid to die. “Good riddance!” she’d huff. And then she’d laugh, a contagious burble of sound, somewhere between and giggle and hoot. A deeply spiritual and prayerful woman, Velma seemed to have a finger on the pulse of heaven. If anyone could convince God to let her take a jaunt back to the physical world, Velma could.

Funny thing, I almost believe she did. On one visit, toward the end of our time together, Mom became tired and overwhelmed by the lot of us. It was Mother’s Day, and we had brought the kids, who were still toddlers and turning everything into a jungle gym. She began to fret, asking to return to her room.

“I need to talk to Grama,” she said, turning her face to the wall.

Velma had been dead five years. But mom mumbled away like she was there with her in the room.

Mom died just three months later.

Perhaps it was Velma there with her, in that cramped hospital room.

Perhaps she kept her promise, after all, providing comfort and stability to mom’s fractured mind when nothing and no one else could.

Perhaps my mother visits me, too, but in my dreams, figuring into them in such a way that it is as if she never left. We fight and bicker as mothers and daughters do, and we are together.

As if she had never left.



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