This morning I woke at 3:39AM.
3 months. 1 week. 4 days.
My beautiful mum’s life came to a harrowing end at 3:14AM. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
For the first time that I can remember, I dreamed of her. Or rather, she appeared in a dream.
I woke smiling with a strange sense of peace that I also don’t remember ever experiencing before. And then I remembered. I remembered her face. Her silent, calming presence. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to remember the details of my dream, I laid as still as possible and concentrated — replaying the dream in my head over and over again. I was torn between wanting to go back to sleep in hopes of seeing her again and rushing to my computer to record the dream so I wouldn’t forget.
I drifted back to sleep.
Six hours later, I still remember. We were in a nondescript school cafeteria full of those long communal tables with fixed benches. The cacophony of children’s voices and clatter surrounded us. We sat at the end of one of the tables in a far corner so we could scan the entire room, and yet everything but five women was blurred out. The lens wasn’t focused on anyone or anything else.
My second cousin, Patty, sat just to my left in a folding chair pulled up to the end of the table. Two more women sat to my right — mum’s best friend from college, Bonnie, and a kindergarten teacher who worked under mum’s direction, Pam. Mum sat quietly across the table from me. Or rather, she floated. But, I’ll come back to that in a bit.
We were discussing how we would honor her as she wasn’t much for public acknowledgement or accolades. Bonnie mentioned there being inexpensive purple plastic butterflies at Home Goods. I scoffed and informed the group that I had spent the morning in the vault of Baccarat and had emerged with a stunning purple crystal butterfly with which to award her. Patty laughed and said, “Of course you did!” (I have always been known as the “snob” of the family.)
And then I launched into excitedly telling the ladies that everyone — student and staff member alike — would write a note of tribute to her and we would compile them by classroom in a book to present to her at the award ceremony. She would never object to that kind of tribute, I told the ladies.
And then I looked up and realized there she sat directly in front of me, in her hand-me-down chartreuse dupioni silk blouse whose ruffles reflected her joyful spirit and simple black slacks. She was as perfect and beautiful as when I last saw her in April. She was silent and I sent her away from the secret planning with, “Geez, Ma! Get outta here!” She rose, turned, and then disappeared.
The next thing I remember is Patty and I standing, still surrounded by the same cacophony and blurry images. I told her, “We have to do this. This is gonna work. She won’t object to this.” We hugged. And I woke.
When I initially reflected on my dream in the wee hours of this morning, my heart hurt because I had sent her away. Why had I sent her away? And then I realized, her image hadn’t been the same solid 3-dimensions of Patty, Bonnie, Pam and I. And yet she had also not been a part of the blurry, unfocused masses either. She had been something completely different. There was a kind of translucency to her and her movements were light and fluid. She had arrived, listened and then departed, in silence. The smile and feeling of peace I initially awoke with at 3:39AM returned and has not left me since.
Take from the recounting of my dream what you will. I choose to believe that the shiny new Jaguar parked in front of my building and her visiting me in my dream last night is her way of telling me that she approves. This foundation is exactly what she wants and she is watching over it, and us, making sure we stay the course.
While we cannot present her with a book full of personal tributes, I invite you to write your message anyway. I know she’ll be reading them.