“You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting.” –Tinkerbelle, Hook
I was reminded of this quote when I fell into a marathon Hook watching session the other night (TG for movie channels, amiright?). This heartbreakingly beautiful film lifted my spirits as it always has; as movies and books always have.
I suppose it’s because they’re a bit of an escape; for 2 hours (or a marathon book reading session) you are transported into another world and can leave your own behind. I tend to flee into these worlds of books and movies when I need a break from what’s going on in my own life and have noticed that my reading has taken on hyper-speeds since my mom passed away.
I once asked Jimmy why he didn’t like to read- he tolerates the incandescent glow of my Kobo reader late into the night- and he told me it was because he hears his own voice when he reads the narration of a character. I was blown away: how could he not visualize each scene as the words flowed through his imagination like a paintbrush? How did he not hear the words of each character, as different and unique as their personalities? It occurred to me that books have always been a bit like dreaming to me, which is why I’ve always loved it. They are places where your imagination soars.
Since my mom died, I’ve been dreaming about her. A lot.
It’s never a dream about a memory from when she was alive, I always know that she’s dead and I’m only going to see her for a few minutes. She never knows that she’s dead, she just walks into a room or I bump into her at the mall, and have to pretend to play it cool so that she doesn’t realize and leaves. Usually, I think that I see her from behind, go to grab her shoulder and turn her smiling face to me. I always ask “what are you doing here!” and she’ll smile, hug me and talk to me for a few minutes before the dream fades away.
I told my brother that it reminds me of Inception- where Leo’s dead wife just turns up in situations (though, my mom never tries to destroy me or sabotage my mission, so I suppose the similarities end there). Sometimes she won’t say anything at all, others, we’ll sit on the couch in our old house and talk about everything. She’s walked into the front door of my new house (a house she never saw), sat on my couch and waited for me to get to her, then faded before Jimmy could come running from our bedroom down the hall.
I see these dreams as gifts. From her to me, I don’t know. My sub-conscious has memorized every detail of her face; the same details that fade when I try to remember them on command. I see the faint beauty mark above her right eyebrow, the silver hoops in her ears, and how she looked when she smiled. I even conjure up outfits that she wore- clothing that sits in a suitcase… clothes that I smell when I need to.
Most importantly, my body remembers what it felt like to hug her. At the risk of sounding super cliche and woe is me, Adele said it best with: Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste? Dreams of my mom elate me, then bring me crashing down to reality when I wake up. Last night, I had a dream that my mom came back to me and told me that she hadn’t died, that she had to go in hiding for awhile but came back for me.
“I KNEW you wouldn’t leave me,” I said.
We giggled, talked for the night and took photos before I woke up this morning thinking that she wasn’t dead.
Punch to the gut.
I know that nothing can bring her back. I know that I’ll never see her again. Nothing can change this. You’ll realize this for yourselves if you haven’t already when you experience the death of the loved one for the first time. It’s the dull ache of realizing your powerlessness that nothing can change your reality, and that they’re truly gone forever.
I know I’m fortunate. I don’t have to worry about how to take care of myself, I was already an adult when she passed away. We had crossed that bridge that daughters and mothers experience, from the love/hate to respect and true friendship. She was always the bright light, the safe place to call and vent and laugh and cry with. She had the innate ability to know when something was wrong- literally answering my call with “What’s Wrong!?” (Sometimes I would laugh and say “NOTHING Mom! Don’t worry!!” Or, I would burst into tears and let the problems flow out.
I don’t know when this will feel better. The shock of losing a loved one is a traumatic experience. The ache of missing them is something else entirely.
I think about her every minute of every day (and apparently when I’m sleeping). Thinking about how she would react to a situation helps me get through them (she was the queen of “let me speak to your manager. What’s your name?”). She had chutzpah, grit, strength and DAMN was she funny. I like to picture her reaction to spicy foods when we’re eating it (a wince, eyes watering and down with the beer), to slow walking people in the mall (zooming and weaving in an out as I jogged to catch up) and reading through her arms-length receipt, peering over her glasses after a grocery run at Superstore.
I love that my subconscious catches these moments and stores them for me while I’m sleeping. I also think it feels a bit like torture. The thought of them disappearing is much worse.
For now, I’ll sit in the place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming. That’s where I’ll wait for you.