In the spring when flowers come alive with vivid colors and my birthday, on the first of May has come and gone, I unconsciously start to feel anxious like I’m skating on a thin layer of ice. My life gets smothered with unease and dread, my two old friends since childhood. The dread of marking another year without my mother. Another Mother’s Day to sit quietly by and watch the whole world celebrate. Another milestone with no memory attached, just a blank hollow space that looks like the mother-shaped hole inside me.
My mother died of a brain tumor when I was four years old and now at sixty-seven, I still cannot conjure a voice or face or hand that might remind me of her. I’ve never caught a whiff of her perfume lingering in the air and turned to see if she was near. “Did she even wear perfume?” I wonder.
Lest you think me selfish and ungrateful, my appreciation and value of being a mother myself is at the top of my gratitude list. I am grateful for the blessing that daughters and grandchildren bring. I humbly acknowledge these beautiful gifts of life and what sweet music it is to my ears to hear them call me Mother or Nannie. But, the little child in me struggles. I struggle every year with those Hallmark card commercials and advertisements for “a free rose at brunch”. I struggle with thoughts of envy and chide my friends who still have their mothers, to cherish this time before it slips away.
In the sixty-three years without my mother, I have never dreamed of her until just last year and even then, I did not see her face. I often have asked God why. “Please,” I would beg, “send me a dream or vision of her to let me know I am not alone. Help me feel her presence.” I’m always afraid I will forget her. Afraid, my soul will not know hers when we meet again.
In my dream, everything and everyone was in black and white, except one person. I was running down a crowded street and searching frantically for my mother. I spotted someone in a bright red dress and I fought my way through until I reached the red dress and I touched her. Her face never really came into focus, I just knew it was her from the thick brown hair and the red dress, the dress she was buried in, I was told. As she turned around, I asked, “Are you, my mother?” I remember thinking in my dream that I should hug her or pull her to me, but it was all very quiet and serene. She nodded yes and gave me her hand. We stood on that crowded street and looked at each other for a while. It was quiet all around us, like in a bubble, and I felt she couldn’t stay very long. I didn’t want to let go of her hand, but she let go first and touched my arm, saying, “I’ve been here all along. You are going to be ok. You are going to be just fine”, and with that, she was gone.
When I woke up, I could not believe that I had finally had a dream of my mother. But, I felt sadly dissatisfied because it was fleeting and strangely generic. I wanted longer. I wanted her to hold me and explain her thoughts….tell me she loved me. I wanted a reunion. Was I being petulant, like a little child that didn’t get her way?
I have since had time to process this dream and think rationally, as best I can. There is an old gospel song entitled, “We’ll Talk It Over” by the Gaither Vocal Band. The gist of the song is that we only know in part why things happen in our lives, but when we get to heaven, we have a chance to ask God why and talk it over.
I don’t know why my mother had to die or why my brother and I were chosen to be among the motherless. I may never know why my dream was short and took so long to come. But, I can choose to believe that in the by and by, as the song says, I’ll have the chance to ask my Creator why and finally understand.
And, I can choose to believe what my mother said to me in my dream. She has been with me all along, for if I search, I can recall her presence amidst a crisis or two and her hand in mine when I needed her most. I can choose to believe that she has missed me as much as I have missed her, and in the by and by, we will meet again.
I am going to be ok.
I’m going to be just fine.
I know I will.