I woke up at 3:30 feeling like it was close to 6 a.m, but it wasn’t. So I read for half an hour and rested from then until I next looked at the clock at 5:53 a.m. I thought: “Good. I’m feeling sleepy now so I will sleep until 6”. I don’t use alarm clocks. I haven’t for at least 20 years.
I’m aware of the dream as I’m having it, I seem trapped in it, unable somehow to fully wake up. I do wake up, on my own – I’m not jarred awake by an alarm. I wake up slowly with the dream seeming as if it just happened. My heart is usually beating faster, my mind racing. The dream this morning was a new version of one that recurs from time to time. It is always disturbing and feels so REAL.
My mom died when I was 17. After 37 years, I wrote about it last year. Within the past 10 years, I started having a recurring dream. In the dream, mom is in a hospital and has been for years. I thought she was dead, but in reality she was tucked away in a hospital, all alone, and I didn’t know. If I allow myself to think about it, it is a psychiatric wing of a hospital. Thick wooden doors. I didn’t know; then I find out. I find out and I’m horrified that she was there all the time and I didn’t know it, didn’t visit her, didn’t comfort her, didn’t love her, didn’t get her out of there.
Several times from the time I was very young until she died when I was 17, she was hospitalized. We were usually told it was for blood clots and that was probably true sometimes. She did suffer from blood clots and wore compression bandages on her legs. Other times we weren’t told, but were taken to our grandmother’s house to stay for weeks. One time we were still at home, mom was in the hospital for what seemed like a very long time and we were not allowed to go see her. I have a vague memory of being taken to the hospital to see her, but was stopped by the brown door to her room. I can still see the white floors, smell the hospital smell and see that brown door separating her from me. I don’t remember getting to see her. That doesn’t make sense though since why would I have even been there at all if I wasn’t able to see her?
My entire adult life I’ve had trouble going into hospitals to visit anyone. I’ve done it of course. Many times I visited Mary Lou my beloved friend and surrogate mother and my father who was very ill and died in a hospital 28 years ago.
The dream I’m shaking off this morning was a version of that dream.
Recently, an acquaintance lost her daughter to suicide. The daughter left several children behind, the oldest was 18. My thoughts went to the children and how the loss of their mother to suicide will forever impact and shape their lives. It will. In ways large and small. Now and for years to come. If they live to the age of their mother when she died (and beyond), they will still carry scars. Or maybe they won’t. I know I do.
I do think about what I can do, how I can help, what I can say not just to those children, but any child who is living through suicide and the many years of life beyond. I don’t know, but it’s on my mind. Maybe someday, the answer will come. Maybe it will come in a dream.