I've been dreaming about my mother every night for the past week.
It's surprising because I had only dreamed about her once in the past year of griefwalking and now I've met her, at various ages and in various locales, each night as I sleep. But then, perhaps it isn't surprising because the one year anniversary of her death is approaching and my grief counselor tells me that it is common, virtually normal, to be disturbed in a variety of ways at this juncture.
Knowing that helps, just like knowing you have enough gas in your car to make it safely to the next gas station or that there is enough clean underwear so that you don't have to do laundry right this second. But, on the other hand, it doesn't stop the dreams, as my subconscious pulls up a melange of memory and unresolved issues, throws in a handful of thoughts of my own mortality and stirs it all with a soupcon of fear and anxiety to create a potage of renewed grief--Tear Soup.
It's tough. In its own way, it's almost as tough as the original griefwalk. In fact, in some odd fashion, it is even harder because it is so much more viseral than I had imagined. I had gone through the other anniversaries--my birthday, her birthday, the holidays--with waves of renewed grieving, but not this mind-wrenching, soul-knotting, intellect-fogging, hope-draining kind of emotional paralysis that I've been experiencing for the past several days.
It doesn't help that, despite the fact I know that grief simply takes as long as it takes, I feel like I should be over this, or at least more over it than I am. I had been taking care of my mother for nearly 14 years and I certainly knew that, at age 92, the end was coming.
Maybe that's part of it. After being her caregiver for so may years, after putting life and career on a kind of hold for that long, I never truly expected it to end. I think I assumed it would go on as it had until my own death.
Mother thought so, too. She often said that didn't want to die before me and she didn't want me to die before her. I would tell her that the only way that could be arranged would be if we would die at the same time. She would smile sort of sweetly at that, but never made a response. Deep down, I think that's what she secretly hoped would happen.
But it didn't.
However, her oft-expressed desire must have sunk deep into my subconscious because I dreamed last night that she was waiting for me as I came out of a doctor's office. "We have to go," she said, as she headed out the door, indicating that I was to follow her. I did, to a point, then stopped, in a dark, cold and half-frozen field. Looking down I realized I was barefoot. "I can't go," I told her. "I don't have the right shoes."
It's a few more days until the actual date of her death. Perhaps by then I will have found the right shoes to make the rest of my life, not a slog into the winter night, but a dance by starlight. I pray so.