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Dreams are not enough.
I dreamt about my mother last night. It doesn’t happen often–I can count on my hand the number of times since she became ill 14 years ago.
This time was different. In past dreams, she’s usually been well–walking, talking, exactly as she was before. This time, she was already sick, probably about 5 years in. Still talking, still able to move on her own, but needing assistance.
I can’t remember all the details. I think we were going through airport security. We were standing in line, and my attention was turned away for a moment, just long enough for us to be the next in line and for her to begin interacting with the TSA agent. I watched as the confusion built quickly, how it felt intensified in the context of our location, the nervous energy of thousands of nervous people collecting and swelling around us.
I remember stepping in, trying to regain control of the situation, explaining to the person what was happening, why her answers were confused and jumbled.
Feeling again that tense relief as we navigated through the situation, knowing there would be so many other micro-moments to navigate between then and our destination. I felt her anxiety build, saw her fidgeting, knew she needed to use the bathroom, felt my own anxiety rise as my eyes searched for where to go, preparing myself for the series of steps and tasks it would take to accomplish this next task at hand.
I woke up then, disoriented by the memory of a time that is no longer, taken aback at how much really has changed since then. For so long, I’ve looked at things as “before mom got sick” and then “after,” but this dream reminded me how many more steps actually lie in between, and how much time has passed since we’ve actually lived them.
It was also so strange to reflect on her being Sick in the dream, while acknowledging how much has evolved since then. I’ve often wondered why I don’t dream of her more–I’ve assumed that perhaps it’s because she’s still here, somewhere in that body. I wonder what it means that she came to me this time in this way. Could this finally be affecting whatever’s left inside now? Is she going through this transformation all over again, her spirit now evolving the way her body had to? It’s hard to think about, so instead I’ll think about how good it was to remember the sound of her voice, its strength, the warmth of her body, feeling her more present in it, holding onto the hope we could hold onto her a little bit longer.