Sunday, November 04, 2007

In my dreams

I got to hug my parents last night in my dreams, and I can still feel their arms around me and mine around them.

I was going into a place -- like a movie theatre or an auditorium or somewhere -- in the midst of other people. I think I might have been with either my family or others that I knew, but I was pushing through ahead of the crowd. Around a little bend, I saw my parents coming towards me with others who were walking away from the entrance.

They were old -- Daddy's white, fine hair blew a little, and he was slightly bent. Mother was little and clearly fragile, but walking, holding to his arm, her white hair beautifully coiffed just as she liked it. They saw me and beamed; I walked up to them and wrapped my arms around both of them as they did to me, and we just stood there, holding each other, and so happy to see each other. I don't remember speaking.

The sensation of their arms around me has lingered with me all day, and I can feel Daddy's bony shoulder blades under my fingertips and almost smell his scent. Mother's thin little shoulders and arms wrapped around me with more strength than I'd have thought, and I put my cheek on her hair and just savored the feeling again.

It makes me puddle up to remember.

I woke knowing I wanted to remember this dream and to just treasure the feel of them, the look of them together again, the love on their faces on seeing me and the leap of joy in my heart when I realized it was them.

I don't know why I dreamed about them -- I don't remember a dream like that ever, and in fact, have had very few dreams about them since their deaths. Maybe it was worry over my brother, another abrupt reminder that we are mortal and we are fragile: our lives are changeable in an instant. Maybe it was knowing how much my mother would have worried about Jimmy had she known.

I would talk to them every Sunday evening for -- oh -- maybe the last 10 years before Mother died, maybe even longer. Sometimes I'd talk only to Mother; sometimes I'd talk more to Daddy; often I'd talk to both of them at the beginning and then to one later in the conversation. It didn't even matter what they'd talk about after a while: I'd close my eyes and just soak up the sound of their voices, trying to imprint their speech in my brain, knowing the time would come when I couldn't just call them and hear them talk. Their inflections...Daddy's hearty laugh, when I could almost see him squint up his eyes in mirth and see his wide grin. Mother's questions -- nearly always direct and clear and inquisitive -- how like her I am in that way!

The last time I saw Daddy, less than a week before he died although we didn't know it at that time, he held me very tightly for a long time. My arms were wrapped around him, hugging him tight, breathing into his neck and smelling him. His arms were strong and ropey, and we both got a little puddly, and said 'I love you" and 'take care of yourself' and 'call me when you get home' and 'I love you' again.

He hadn't gone in for the angiogram yet, and there was nothing to suspect his impending death, but I think we both felt loss, and love, and gratitude.

With Mother, my brother and I had visited her just three weeks before her death, and had had a lovely time, tempered by the knowledge we all felt that it would not likely be long before we were back for the last time.

The last night of that visit, I got on my knees in front of her chair, and put my head in her lap and wrapped my arms around her waist, and she petted my hair while I just sat there, hearing her frail little heart beat, feeling the ever-present tremors gently shudder through her body, and feeling her love through her fingertips. For that moment again, I was her little girl and she was my mommy. I remember know she smelled -- and feel her close everytime I catch a whiff of the scent even today -- and how she felt.

The night she died, three weeks later, I rubbed that scented lotion into her arms and hands and legs, and sang hymns to her and recited poetry from Eugene Field and Robert Frost, and tried to stroke my love into her with every caress. She knew I was there, but did not talk, although the nurses told me she spoke to them while I was out for a little while, and was glad to hear my brother also was on his way. And then she went back into that twilight state where she remained, although she squeezed our hands in recognition. She died knowing she was surrounded by love, ours, our daddy's, and the cloud of witnesses who I felt in that room all through the vigil. She just crossed over, very quietly, through the door between the worlds.

All of that love and generosity of spirit was in my dreams last night. I am grateful to have felt it again and it lingers still.

I hope they will visit my brother too, in his dreams, and share a hug with him. I think he needs them too.

We will know more about his condition after tomorrow, we hope. For now, he's stable and doing as well as he can, given that both arms are either braced or in a sling. And he is grateful for his life and for the outpouring of love and support for them both from his friends near and far.

That love, my dears, is what matters. The rest of this is merely interesting.

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