I dreamt about my mother last night. It was the first time I’d dreamt about her in awhile, at least that I remember. I used to dream of her often after she died. They were horrible, wrenching dreams. Dreams in which she cried out to me to help her, but in which, one way or another, I was never able to. Inevitably, I woke from these dreams sweating, sobbing, sometimes crying out. And like my mother, unable to be helped.
Last night’s dream was different. My mother and I were alone in a vacant old house. She was as rail thin as I remember her the last time I saw her, six weeks before she died. Her eyes had the same vacant, staring look, like black holes peering into the distance. I pleaded with her to eat something, but she just shook her head no. And then I noticed something strange: my mother had in her possession a large black satchel full of food. She had refused to eat anything, no matter how much I pleaded with her, yet she was hoarding food, stockpiling it. To what end?
I woke to a still dark apartment in the early morning hours and I sat, frozen in my bed, utterly stunned by the sharp clarity with which I remembered every detail of my dream. A phrase popped into my head: “There was nothing you could do.” And then another: “It wasn’t your fault.” Both phrases circled through my brain over and over until I became dizzy and I wept, hoping they were true.
I don’t know why my mother appeared to my subconscious mind in such a strange fashion after so long of an absence. It may have something to do with the fact that as I write this, I’m sitting in the international terminal at LAX, waiting to board a flight that will take me the furthest away from home I’ve been for the longest among of time I’ve been away since my mother died, the prospect of which has me both exhilarated and terrified. Or it may have something to do with the fact that since WordPress republished my blog post Things My Mother Never Did two weeks ago, I’ve heard from hundreds of people all over the world in countless heartfelt messages. Messages of encouragement, of heartbreak, of hope, of loss, of dysfunction and love, all revolving around the most fundamental, yet often, the most anguishing relationship out there: that of parent and child. And over and over again, throughout all of the messages and the reblogs, the overwhelming theme has been this: “Thank you for writing this. I thought I was the only one.”
How can it be that there are so many of us, yet we still feel so desperately alone? Well, let me be the first to tell you, friends, you are not alone. As scary as it is for me to tell my dark family secrets, I will continue to do so. Because the only way out is through, and for me, through is a road paved with honesty.
My mother was the love of my life. I’m still angry with her. I’m still racked with guilt that I couldn’t save her. And I’m not running from either one of these truths. But, as I embark on this journey, the first big scary adventure of my new life – the life dedicated to all the Things My Mother Never Did – I hope that for all of you out there who have so lovingly and kindly reached out to me, I hope that I can offer you some inspiration about forging a path back to acceptance and love, a path forged straight through forgiveness. A path in which you are the architect of your own life.
Thank you to everyone who wrote me. You have no idea how grateful I am.
Here I go!
Until next time, friends.