Saturday, October 31, 2009


My mother is haunting me.

I say this with my tongue somewhere around the vicinity of the inside of my cheek, recognizing that what is happening to me would hardly be developed into something to go into wide-release on Halloween.


After three and a half years of occasional pleasant dreams about my mother... dreams characterized by their ordinariness and their beauty, the quintessentially encouraging dreams one would hope to have about a deceased loved one... I am having hard dreams about her. Really hard.

In the previous post I spoke of a dream of my mother in which I was crying uncontrollably. It was, as I said, the first time I'd had such a dream about her-- one characterized by sadness and not peace. This week I awakened from the following dream.

I was at a theme park-- probably Disney World or Land-- with my ex and my children and my parents, something that never happened in real life (though the ex and I took the kids several times). The ages of the children was indeterminate... at times they seemed quite young, but at one point Petra was in the back of a car playing guitar next to her boyfriend, something that indicated her age was closer to what it is now.

There were vague visits to rides and attractions, a scene at a tennis court, and finally a scene in a hotel room. The first thing that happened is that I took two Xanax, something I've never done, again, in real life, though I obtained a prescription I ended up tossing. (This was very shortly after my mom died, when it appeared my dad would be going to trial when the children of a former business partner was suing him.) They looked like horse pills, enormous. I lay down in a bed. Then my mother took a pill (don't know what kind) and started choking.

I jumped up and began to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her. I have a powerful sense memory of my arms around her middle, my right hand clasped over my left wrist, pumping and pumping, trying to dislodge the pill. I couldn't do it, so I tried sweeping her mouth with my pinky. Again, couldn't get to the pill. So I continued the Heimlich until, at last, my mom slumped over in my arms, limp, dead. I had a sense I'd stopped too soon, but I knew she was gone.

I wasn't there when my mother died, in real life. It was February of 2006, and my brother and I were taking turns spending time with her and my dad those last 6 weeks or so. My brother had actually gone to have a drink at a friend's house when my mom began to choke. She was in bed, with only days or a week left, according to what the medical people had told us, and the cancer was everywhere. She was too weak to clear her throat. My dad didn't know what to do. Later the hospice nurse took him to task for not calling. He could have turned her, she said. So the family was left indicted, for letting my mom choke to death.

I have just returned home from a day with my dad-- fewer than 24 hours, but he had a doctor's appointment and I needed to take him. All is well with him. If 88, barely walking, spells of dizziness and vertigo of uncertain origin, very poor hearing can be defined as "well." He won't come to my home for a visit. He won't go to my brother's. He still drives, just around the neighborhood (he's promised to sell one of the two cars, as if that will cut down on his driving).

I don't know if my mom is haunting me or if my dad is haunting me. Or if it's just the powerlessness of it all.

"I don't have much longer," my dad said. I'm not sure I believe him. In any case, I feel no more ability to help him than I felt to save my mother.


miekevandersall said...

goodness, i somehow missed that this is how your mom died--i didn't realize. am kind of stunned by the enormity of it all combined with that dream. not easy. sending love

August said...

how awful...i'm speechless and very sorry.

Rev. Dr. Laura Marie Grimes said...

Oh, Godde, I am so sorry. Prayers for healing and grace to come out of this thin veil time of All Saints and All Souls.

Suzer said...

Holding you in prayer.

susankay said...

My parents (both dead -- a year apart) show up in my dreams -- sometimes frequently, sometimes not so much. Sometimes I know they are dead -- sometimes they know they are dead -- sometimes it appears irrelevant to all of us. We are all just engaged in a dance of saying "goodbye for a while" and "I forgive you for being human" and "Weren't we silly to take it all so seriously" and, as a pervasive subtext: "I love you."

Erika Baker said...

My mother was haunting me.
I know the feeling of terror, guilt and heavy responsibility these dreams can bring with them. They are of such different quality and intensity than normal dreams!

In my case, in the end, my mother drove me into the arms of the church where I was met with a living loving God I had never truly known about before.
And when I had finally forgiven myself, I had a distinct sense of my mother having accomplished what she had come to do. She was at peace - and I have never had those dreams again.

Did God "send" her? Did he simply find a way of getting through to me? Who knows! It almost doesn't matter.

I hope and pray that you will be able to forgive yourself for any real or perceived failure and be at peace again.

Rev. Richard Thornburgh said...

Disturbing dreams, but we take control of them and remove their power once we name tham, as you have done by putting up this post. In our sleep our brain sorts its information, it catalogues and files, just as our computers do when they're left to themselves. It's almost as if we do a defragmentation every night, and as that information is analysed and sorted, images come together and merge. Yet at times our dreams are moe than this random access memory, and they speak to us on a deeper level, but it may take a long time to sort out. My prayers for you and restful refrshing sleep.