After grabbing a salad from my trusty Paragon gourmet market, I’ve returned to my one bedroom apartment to do battle with a handful of overachieving mosquitoes, who have decided to skip all the open doors below me and fly directly to my bedroom on the 27th floor. I never considered mosquitoes to be particularly adept fliers, but I think they’re drawn to the swampy atmosphere that pervades my tiny studio apartment. It’s good to know that the border of Cambodia and Thailand is home to the most virulent and drug-resistant strand of malaria this side of the Mississippi. Malaria, why not?
Today has been a good day. After a string of topsy-turvy days, I’d say I was about due. The tough days come with bad night’s sleep, of which I’ve had many. The dreams range in severity and content. There are the random, vivid dreams, like watching someone fall off a building – including the sights and sounds of impact – or of being attacked; the weepy, nostalgic ones of past relationships or long forgotten childhood memories; and then Mom and Craig, which are so varied they deserve their own sub-categories.
So far, I can group three separate themes: a) Mom and Craig shortly before, or during, the dying process where I’m able to jostle them awake for one last conversation; b) Mom and Craig post-death interacting with me as if nothing happened; and c) Mom and Craig before cancer. Usually, they’ll trade off in terms of who takes center stage; so far, they haven’t appeared in a dream together.
Almost always, I’m able to talk to them in full, with them responding in the voice that defined them long before cancer. For instance, I remember a dream where I was hiking in Sedona with Diane and Erin, and Craig was just behind me. He was dressed in his red Beer Lao shirt, the last shirt he was wearing. I knew in the dream that he was gone, and asked him directly how he came back. He said that the whole experience was just a big misunderstanding. I remember whispering to him so the others wouldn’t hear, as if their participation would spoil the dream.
I’ve had similar dreams with Mom. In one, she was walking around without her walker and improving in strength and mobility with each day. It was as if she had reverted back to her walking pattern of mid-December when she was just beginning to have troubles with her balance. In other dreams, I replay the actual moments before her passing, and almost always, she is able to wake up for one last talk. In one dream, she had already passed away, with all the tell-tale color distortion, but I was able to jostle her awake. She smiled and said “it’s going to be okay, sweetheart.”
In all these dreams, I’m able to have a conversation with them. When morning comes, I find myself struggling to recall their exact words, as if what they said, or their particular mannerisms, or touch were somehow real. It’s been so long since I’ve heard their voices. Though I could use the rest, talking to them brings me comfort. As Dad says, the nightmare is waking up. — J