Dead To Us

Happy New Year, everyone… as is customary, the only thing that can seem to shake me out of my silent streak is a particularly harrowing dream that requires documentation. I haven’t blogged as of recent because keeping busy had kept my mind from exploding. I fear sitting still too long will force all that has happened in the last three years and three weeks to come slamming to the front of my life’s car as if I hit the breaks. I can’t afford to have that happen, so I apply steady pressure to the accelerator. Sometimes, you miss the sign that says “BUMP”….

Again in this dream, I focus in on the point where there is a massive pomp and circumstance. We’re in quite a grand ballroom where many a gala are taking place. Parties here… wedding there… and look… they just rolled that maroon casket over to the Veranda room…

Casket?

I’m chasing down the Maitre’d because somethings amiss in our room. There isn’t enough of something… something is missing… something ain’t right… and he has to come fix it now. We enter the room where we’re having our event and I’m having some small talk with the Maitre’d about how many grand affairs everyone is having tonight at this fine establishment and he was sure to agree with everything I said. Our ballroom was the GRANDEST… high ceiling, gold gilded walls, cameo shaped portraits and red velvet curtains with gold tassles. Waiters milling about and all the guests fancily decked out in black. After a few people clear the view… there it is. In the center of the room at the head of the dancefloor… a sight to see… My mother’s casket lifted up on some contraption so it was high up off the ground, exalted for all to see. And the Maitre’d walks right over to it. and opens up the top. The part of my mind in the dream that’s still based in reality and fact holds back an open mouthed scream because… WHY IS HE DOING THIS??? But it’s quickly calmed by the part of my mind that’s completely entrenched in this dream and knows this has to happen and is normal. Out of it steps a lovely… in tact… comfortably slimmer… MOBILE… younger… Mommy. Adorned in the same pretty pink dress… her last dress – the one we buried her in, she steps all the way down the stairs as the admiring audience claps and she smiles and acknowledges them with a very professional Miss America wave. She notices me off to the side comes to hug me. And I hear her say CLEARLY, “Vicky…. Vicky… ” I hear HER voice… as if she was trying to wake me. Same voice I haven’t heard in a year and some… clear as a bell… like I’ve not actually forgotten what it sounds like. And I throw my arms around her. GOD she smells good. Mommy ALWAYS smelled good… And I held her tight… for a long time, yearning for her to say something again, so I could feel that familiar vibration of her voice from her body to mine. That sweet sensation that ALL babies live for. But she broke the embrace first. She touched my face and then went milling about to socialize. I was in a trance. I followed her around like a little puppy dog, always staying one or two steps behind… but just far away enough to see her face clearly… see her smile… enjoy her ways. As the night drew to a close, it was time for her to go back…

Back? Back where??

She started to climb up the display case again and laid back down in the casket. They closed the torso portion… and as they prepared to closed the top part… I saw her face become angry… sad… confused… And I immediately thought “she’s not going to like this part one bit.” They began to crank the pillow down and her face lit up in protest… “What are you doing??” She yelled at the Maitre’d. He replied softly that it was just for the night and tomorrow she’d be back, but they have to “store” her this way. I rushed to her side to assure her that everything was going to be fine and she shot me a look that said, You KNOW it’s not going to be fine… but I’ll let it slip for this once…. They cranked her head down and shut the casket face. Guests solemnly left the scene as someone announced that it would be at the same time and place tomorrow, don’t forget.

As I’m walking out of the ballroom, I get a phone call from a number I don’t recognize. I pick up the phone… “Hello?” It’s her… “Vicky… there’s a bag by the air conditioner, it says something about Safety Deposit on the front of the bag… either way… it’s full of bills from last month and I need you to bring it to me tomorrow so that I can rectify some of these bills that have been laying around since I’ve been gone” Oh no…. how do I tell her… we lost the apartment… and in the process had to throw away… EVERYTHING because there was no way for us to assign meaning and importance to the things that belonged to her and dad w/o their minds and sentimentality to tell us otherwise. I tried breaking the news to her. “Mommy, you’ve been gone for over a year now… we did throw some stuff away…” There was a hearkened silence on the other end of the line. I tried to allay her fears because the last thing I wanted to do was upset this dear spirit. “But you know what, I’ll look anyway – what did the bag have in it again?” She started to speak.. but it was broken up by deep breaths. Almost like …. she’s hyperventilating. “Mom…. Mommy… calm down… you’re losing it because you’re in the casket… try to take deep breaths mommy….” I imitated the deep breaths for her so she could follow… When she calmed down enough, she asked “Why am I in here? I want to go home….” “It’s just for today and tomorrow. Once those days are over, you’ll go back…” “Back to where,” she asked bewildered, “I want to stay here…” Some rule that I can’t articulate in this dimension of real life had me knowing that was impossible. These things only lasted for 2 days and that was it. She started to get irate… “I want the bag with my bills in it… I need to rectify these bills because I know you and your brother haven’t.” Upset and hurt, I raised my voice, “MOM… the bills are gone. We threw all the papers away…” in my mind I lined up all the things I would have to admit to now… moving her china cabinet to Brooklyn, losing her apartment where she lived for the last 38 years of her life, throwing away her precious Home Shopping Club purchased Capodimonte…. I continued “Mommy… you were dead to us for a year… What would you have had us do? Hold on to everything on the off chance that you’d come back and stay? This doesn’t always happen you know… and even in this rare exception, you’re not staying…” Silence. Understanding. She replied softly almost as if … she was fading into a vast distance… “But I want to stay…….”

In the narthex of my mind between the exit of that dream and the entrance of my reality, I comforted myself with the knowledge that she didn’t WANT to stay. Life here on this earth had become unbearable for her between her physical ails, loss of her mom… loss of her husband… She WANTED to leave. And we wanted more for her to stay than she did.

There’ll be no more sleep for me tonight.

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