It has been almost fifteen years since my mother died as a victim to breast cancer. My journey with grief was an arduous one, reaching down into a life of self-destruction and ultimately strengthening my faith. Someday I may gain the courage to write more about that journey but that day has not come. While I have come to peace with my mother’s premature passing there are times when memories ignite a candle of pain. The love I have for music was inherited from her and appropriately certain songs allow me to reminisce; only time has allowed these ruminations to provide peace. Despite my conscious mind moving forward in everyday life, my unconscious mind grieves vividly in the form of dreams. There is one dream in particular which reoccurs, perhaps once a year, and often ends with me waking in the act of quiet weeping.
The places and situations in the dream change every time but the theme remains the same. There is always the reappearance of my mother in some manner. Not an apparition of any kind, but the discovery that she is near and has returned from a long hiatus. Occasionally I will speak to her but mostly I remember her silent in the dreams. It is also rare that I will interact with her face to face; usually the news that she has returned is related to me from another person though I always see her. During the first few years when having this dream, there was always the sense that whoever had provided the news of her return was hiding their knowledge of her since the time of her passing. Reasons for this varied; sometimes she was sick and had to remain at the hospital for an extended period of time. Other times she was gone because of some instability in her character, whether it be mental illness, infidelity, or the desire to leave her family. Occasionally I was allowed to be held by her, ending that specific dream, and waking me in a flood of tears. Most of the time though, whoever was giving me the news that she was back made it known that she still needed time to herself, preventing me from coming in contact with her. I could never understand why I needed to wait and always pleaded with them, saying it did not matter why she left; I just wanted to see her. Last week I had another one of these dreams; it was much the same but with a slight variation.
Again, my mother was back from wherever she had been for the past years. This time it was my aunt, her sister, who was providing me with the news. I asked if she could come back home, but the answer was the same. “No, she is not ready to come home; she is out doing something,” my aunt told me.
“Well what is she doing,” I asked, though this time I felt more confidence in what the answer would be.
“She is walking down the road trying to sell the hood of a car.” Only in the incoherent reality of a dream could my mind have developed this scenario. In the dream though I could picture my mother walking down a country road with an old car hood in her arms as drivers passed by looking at her.
“Is she crazy,” was the only rational response to this irrational mental picture.
But my aunt suddenly became very severe in her tone and corrected me in my thinking: “No she is definitely not. This is something she must do. She has passed what we think is normal and these are tasks she must undertake for us.”
Somehow this made sense to me and I had another image of my mother in the dream, but this time her back was facing me. The photographs of my mother I most like are from the first months of my life. Obviously, much of it is because her attention is centered on me, but she is also stunningly beautiful. The photos are of a twenty-four year old newlywed hippy, with long, thick dark hair that follows her eyes as she gazes upon her newborn baby. I was always enamored with my mother’s hair in these pictures and it was what I noticed in this last image of my dream. It was long thick and wavy like in the photographs, but it had changed from a dark, almost black, brown, to the magnificent silver that comes with age. At this point I woke up, not weeping like other times, but eyes still full of tears.
I am not going to attempt to “interpret” my dreams here. I just wanted to illustrate one of the manifestations of my grieving process. These small emotional reunions with my mother are a blessing. May they be eternal.
Christ our eternal King and God, You have destroyed death and the devil by Your Cross and have restored man to life by Your Resurrection; give rest, Lord, to the soul of Your servant Heidi who has fallen asleep, in Your Kingdom, where there is no pain, sorrow or suffering. In Your goodness and love for all men, pardon all the sins she has committed in thought word or deed, for there is no man or woman who lives and sins not, You only are without sin.
For You are the Resurrection, the Life, and Repose of Your servant Heidi, departed this life, O Christ our God; and to You do we send up glory with Your Eternal Father and Your All-holy, Good and Life-creating Spirit; both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen