I had a dream about Mom. It’s actually a pretty rare occurrence that I remember any part of my dreams, and even rarer that she makes an appearance in them. When those wake me up in the middle of the night, I think it bears recording.
The dream was vivid and engaging. She was a blend of young mom from the 80s and old mom in Houston. The setting a was also a blend that I didn’t really recognize, a pseudo-familiar place that my dream-state cobbled together. Everywhere, there was stuff that had to be sorted. Old handbags, trinkets, pictures, junk. It was the type of random stuff that a person accumulates over the years. There was another person there, I’ll call her a friendly, silent stranger, who was supposed to be an organizer, giving me garbage bags to sort and purge what I needed to. Mom was in the middle of it, encouraging me, observing and guiding me to decide what was okay to let go and what was important to keep. I had to be judicious, thinking about what I could take on the plane – you can only take so many bags on the plane. There were loads of pictures in the bags along with other miscellaneous items that I can’t really describe. I just kept finding more stuff to sort through.
A few days ago, I was cleaning out the backpack that I had used when I traveled to Houston. It was big, with many zipper pockets, and I could throw a ton of stuff in there to avoid bringing a suitcase. I hated going to the carousel after getting off the plane, so I learned how to pack light and do laundry as needed. The backpack came in handy on my last trip. It was where I shoved a bunch of very last-minute items before I left.
When I woke up, I thought about her sunglasses in the black, hard carrying case that I had taken home with me. They were plastic glam shades that she wore out and about. They were in her purse when she died. I grabbed the sunglasses, along with some other stuff from her cavernous bag before I left Houston. A small pack of Rolaids, plastic tooth picks, a pen encrusted with rhinestones along with the sunglasses. They were things she touched everyday, or had once touched or needed and forgotten about. I figured she found them useful, so maybe I would too. Incidentally, the backpack revealed the small paper bag with tiny liquor bottles that I had packed for my last plane trip to Houston, to calm my nerves, that never got consumed. Also, an unopened 3-pack of gum, the card for the hospice chaplain, a cloth mask and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
Pulling these items out of the bag gave me a moment of pause. I almost needed to catch my breath, but I didn’t have time to reflect because I had to give the bag to my husband so he could use it to bring my daughter to the Anime convention. I piled up the items on my dresser to be dealt with at a later date. Except the Rolaids – I threw those out. As sentimental as I am, expired antacids didn’t make the cut.
I miss her so much. When I was younger, I never thought about not having her there. She was just…there. A constant life force. Thinking about her now in the past tense is so cold. Detached. Sad. As much as your mom is a piece of you, genetically and experientially, there is a loneliness that you feel, even when you are surrounded by people you love. That one person is eternally absent.
I use her rhinestone pen once in a while to fill out birthday cards or jot things down in my bedroom. It’s weighty – she liked special pens. She had outstanding penmanship, so writing should have been a special experience with a special pen. Holding its weight makes me think of how her long, talented fingers wrapped around it just so and made consistent lines and curves to record and communicate. I think how she practiced cursive as a kid and developed her ability so easily. How I wish I could write like her, but my distracted brain won’t let my fingers flow and sweep the same way. The muscles just don’t accommodate the same angles and pressure.
The tiny glacine bag of tooth picks I haven’t opened yet. She’d always get food stuck in her teeth, so these were always thrown in the bottom of her bag. Very practical. She always carried a huge shoulder bag with lots of practical stuff. If you needed something, chances were, Mom had something useful in her bag of tricks.
As for the sunglasses, well, I can’t bring myself to handle them yet. I’m not sure why – maybe I’m saving it for something. Saving the energy for a later date.
When I woke up from my dream, I was quite thankful that I could engage with her, even if it was a temporary mirage that my subconscious created. After someone you love dies, you spend so much of your time figuring out how to live your life and think about them in their absence. I think my brain wants to remember the mom I grew up with, almost supplanting the mom that I watched through her illness and age. Both women were her, just at different places on the timeline. My dream fused them together and reminded me that no matter when it was, she always encouraged and supported me, especially when things were hard.
I think about What Ronnie Sue Knew and why I wrote it. I think I was very afraid that I would forget what it was like to be in her presence. Knowing she was nearing the end, I needed to be mindful about recording what I could while she still breathed so I could share what I remembered. I can still hear her voice through the stories on the pages. This way, I can reread it and maybe talk to others who had read them and stay connected to her. Losing your mom – I can’t explain how empty it feels. It just is. There is an energy missing from the world, so capturing it somehow, in whatever way I can just feels…necessary.
I hope she comes back in another dream. Maybe this time, it can be in Naples or Cancun and we can relive our fun holidays together. I would really like to see her again. Maybe she’ll wear the sunglasses and I’ll know it’s time to handle them.