On the days I am feeling mentally strong enough, I sift through the memories of mom after she got sick. Truthfully, in those months there were some amazing moments where we laughed until we cried and we continued to plan the future. But, when those moments take place in a hospital room the memories become a soul land mine for things that make you want to curl up in a fetal position and cry for days on end. You have to be strong enough so you can see the memory and jump over it without falling into it. On days I feel really strong I jump into those kinds of memories because they say that will help me heal. I submit: who the hell are they? and I am thinking THEY are not very smart. But I digress.
I wish I had kept a journal of those months. What days she said things that were so insightful. Because I know now that had I been listening closely enough, she was spending weeks preparing me for her death. She knew long before I did (or maybe she just accepted it long before I did) and I regret I did not open up a conversation at any of those times when she gave clues about what I was in for.
So, cut to the rehabilitation center at a time when we actually thought she was coming out of this okay. She was sitting up in bed when I came to visit after school and it was one of our better visits. Then she mentioned slowly, "I had a dream about your dad last night."
Short side note: My dad died in 1997 and at that time my parents had been divorced for many years. Their relationship had mellowed into one of the love that comes from the bond of a family. After my dad died my mom told me that sometimes they would call each other up and just talk about how proud they were of each of us. That kind of thing stays in your heart forever.
I was dying to hear what happened in this dream with my dad, but it was short and sweet. She said he was in the kitchen and she said, "John what are you doing here?" He looked at her and said, "Pat, I am not here for you, I am here for the kids."
If I am really honest with myself about that memory I did know what it meant. I also knew she was opening up a conversation. But- I wasn't ready for that conversation. And truthfully, it is hard to talk about death when the person you love appears to be getting better. The one thing I never questioned was that my dad was now with us as we took this journey. I always knew that wasn't a dream, as such, that was an actual conversation and so my dad stayed close because the time we had entered was going to be the most difficult of my life.
Another side note: The reason I selfishly keep saying "My life" instead of ours when this journey so closely involved my brother and sister is because I do not want to speak for them. I can assume it was also the hardest time of their lives, but their journey was specific to them and my journey is specific to me. Know that this journey was fully traveled with my entire family, but that I cannot tell you what their journey was like.
I wish there was an easy way to end this blog post. There isn't. There is no magic sentence that wraps it up neatly like a beautiful package. Death isn't like that. It is full of every emotion you have ever experienced and some new ones thrown in there. I guess I will leave you with good news. Having polished off this small memory, I am still standing.