Dreams, Grief and Feeling Whole
Talking animals. Suffocation. War. Sex. Home. Death.
My dreams have always spoken to me and reflected some aspect of myself that I was either hiding, denying or simply not aware of. After my mother died, lots of my processing was done in my sleep. Some nights, I was so afraid to go to bed because of what might come up. I even had a whole routine to calm me down before I fell into the world of dreams: drink 1 cup of warm tea (an herbal mix that is supposed to calm your nerves) , smell the lavender bag that lived under my pillow and read some prayers that relate to being protected while under the spell of the subconscious
For months, I had dreams about my sick mother, my brain not yet able to comprehend that she was dead. That’s the thing about loss, it happens but we are all on a different schedule of processing the magnitude of this concept: here and than gone forever. here and than gone forever. here and than gone forever.
A year and a half after her death is when I had a dream that transitioned me from dealing with death to dealing with life without a mother. I dreamed that I was sitting on a wooden floor, my mother's body sprawled out on the ground with her head in my arms, her hazel eyes gazing up at me. She was crying, telling me that she was scared and reflecting on all the things she had wanted to do in life. I listened and watched. I listened and watched.
Who was the mother and who was the daughter? (My mom and I used to joke about that a lot - it was funny when it was about making plans and decisions, it wasn't so funny when it came to being her caretaker)
My mom looked me deeply in the eyes, and as if her breath was the only sound in the world at that moment, I was surrounded by the ocean like texture of her exhale. At that moment, her head dropped back and her body turned cold and white. I woke up from that dream, not scared, but relieved. Relieved that my subconscious had finally come to understand that my mother was dead. Gone forever.
I felt grateful to have had the chance to hear her last breath because when she died in the hospital almost three years ago, the oxygen mask pumping her chest up and down masked the sound of my mother's breath.
Dreams, you see, are a part of us. I once read that to feel whole, both are waking life and our dreaming life need to be in harmony. When something as significant as loss disrupts the rhythm of your life, it comes out in all sorts of ways: anger, nightmares, depression - you name it. And although dreams come and go, feelings come and go, pretty much everything comes and goes, the grief stays. It changes, evolves and transforms but its with you, like a scar or a twitch, and it needs, it demands to be heard.
Since then, I still dream of my mother, although now she is more angelic, she’s of another form. I sat with her in heaven once, and we talked about what it's like being up there. She said, “It’s hard work.” She also said pretty sternly that how we behave on earth matters and to be careful. Now whose the mother and whose the daughter?
I bless us all with the strength and courage to hear that which you don't want to hear - because every part of us deserves to be heard. And perhaps if we do a better job at seeing and being with ourselves, we will do a better job at seeing and being with others.