Unexpected Birthday Visitors

The wedding extravaganza weekend is finally here! We are staying at a cozy B&B in Allenspark. Our family rented the whole place out. One of the owners is very particular, and while well-meaning, has come off a bit like a drill sergeant. It’s made for some laughs, but it infiltrated my dreams.

Breakfast is at precisely 8:00 a.m. Not 8:03, not 7:58. 8:00. The breakfast bell will be rung, and you are to promptly come down to eat. If you wait until 8:10, there may be no food left. My first thought was, You clear the food after 10 minutes? There’s no way 30 of us can eat in 10 minutes…

I am anxious I will oversleep. I keep thinking, I must have missed the alarm. She’s going to do a headcount, and I’ll be reprimanded for missing breakfast. So I had been popping in and out of sleep. When I did finally get into R.E.M. sleep, I dreamt I was in a store looking at an exquisite dress that would just look smashing on my mom. But I remember she’s dead, so I don’t buy the dress.

Back in the lodge, I make my way downstairs, because, ya know, breakfast. The first thing I encounter is the bare backside of quite a large woman. She’s pale and bruised, so much so that I think she must be dead. But then she takes a step, and I think, I did not see anything about nudity in that binder with all the rules.

After this moment of utter surprise, I turn and make knowing eye contact with another guest, but past her, I see another naked, bruised woman.

I gaze around properly. There are lots of naked and bruised bodies looking dead.  All slowly plodding toward the breakfast table.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see a stunning woman wearing a sheer cover up over black bra and matching underwear. She turns, and a smile explodes from my face as I recognize my mom. I think, Oh wow, that dress would have been perfect her. She looks different than I remember, like she does in the pictures of her in the 70’s, before I was born. I run up to her and give her a hug and tell her how beautiful she looks. I recount the story of why I didn’t buy the dress for her. The perfectly autumn-orange dress with the perfectly embroidered flowers.

“I saw all these bruised, naked ladies here, and I thought you were gone, too. But here you are!”

And then she collapses in front of me, into a purpley-blue heap, bruised and deteriorated. “No!” I scream. “NO!!!” The zombies continue to mill around me like nothing is happening. Like the most important person in my life didn’t just disappear on me for the millionth time, in the millionth dream.

I cry, “No, no, no, no, no, no…,” over and over again. And I look at her beautifully frozen, blue, and bruised face, capturing her in a time when I never knew her.

Suddenly, her hand moves and grabs mine, and she whispers, “Did it work?” And I half laugh and half sob. “You scared the shit out of me!” I rasp, and I hold her blue – unexpectedly warm – hand, gratitude coursing through me that she was just messing with me; she isn’t really gone.

She smiles. “I would never leave you. I have never left you. I only left my body. I can’t leave my non-body.” And she smiles at me again, gently squeezing my hand, and against my will, I am pulled from my dream, waking for the millionth time while reaching into the nothingness for her. Body-rocking sobs taking over as the realization washes over me that it was just a dream.

Every time I have dream of my mother since she died, I am in a total panic. I am acutely aware she is not supposed to be there. I know, even in my deepest subconscious, she is not alive. When she is in my dreams, I’m filled with pure elation and pure fear. Either I see her and can’t reach her and am intensely desperate to get to her, or I find her and grab onto her and refuse to let her go. I am so scared I’m never going to see her again. I squeeze and I squeeze, so hard, willing her back into being.

But tonight, for the first time, for a small window, I just enjoyed her. For a sliver of a moment, we were just together. And it felt so wonderful. I felt so warm, like the hole that has been in my chest for 876 days was completely healed.  And as the cold reality drowns me again, and the hole tears open fresh for the millionth time, I have a new memory of her. I have that love again. Even for just a moment.

Thanks for visiting me on my birthday, Mom. I sure do miss you. So much it hurts.


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