Dream #1, less than a week after the stroke:
She’s sitting on the couch – where she always is. She smiled and laughed as I cuddled into her lap.
“Mom, I was worried about you.”
“Now, what would be wrong?”
She stroked my hair, as she always does, and I sighed contentedly, realizing everything I experienced was just a bad dream. She’s still here, everything is okay.
I wake up, only to suffocate under the crushing weight of the realization she’s forever gone and everything’s not okay.
Dream #2, 1-2 more weeks after the stroke:
She just came back from the hospital, and she seems completely fine. No sign of stroke – in fact, no sign of depression. We were walking outside on our patio, and it was a beautiful spring day. Flowers were floating in the air, and she was looking around, smiling. She was wearing a normal maxi dress, typical of the style she always wore.
“Mom, I’m so happy that stroke wasn’t more serious than it was.”
She nodded, “Me too.”
We spent lazy time together, just enjoying each other’s company. Her presence was very comforting. I was very content, but then something started to feel just a little off.
I wake up. Disappointment, again. Today’s not going to be a good day.
Dream #3, even more time afterwards:
She’s sitting on the couch, like she always would. I turn around after entering the house and jump up from the shock of seeing her there.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, startled.
“What do you mean? I’m always here,” she calmly replied.
My mouth opened slightly, as if I wanted to say something but I had no idea what to say.
“Yes, but aren’t you supposed to be…” I hesitated before softly saying, “dead?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “The stroke happened, but it’s all okay now.”
Relief washed all over me. “You’re all okay, and you’re here with us. That’s all that matters.”
Then a thought flashed through my mind.
She’s alive and here, and that’s all you want. It doesn’t matter if the totem falls or not, she’s here. Don’t look back. Don’t wake up.
My eyes widened, and they flickered to where mom was sitting. A panic set in me – I absolutely cannot wake up. I turned around, smiled upon seeing her, and began to walk over to her.
I wake up. It was a dream afterall. It’s been getting hard to tell reality apart from dream world lately. But I really wish I hadn’t woken up.
Dream #4, a few days after talking to Heather:
She’s there. I see her body. She’s smiling at me and walks towards me.
I search her face, and then blurt out, “You’re dead, aren’t you?”
She nodded, “Yeah, I am.”
I stared at her for a bit, a mixture of anger and sadness brewing inside of me. “Why didn’t you answer the calls the day of? Did you know what was happening to you?”
She nodded again, “I knew. I knew it was my time to go.” She let out a soft chuckle. “And I knew you were about to yell at me about being at the hospital with your dad.”
I looked down, unable to look her in the eyes. She was right after all.
“But… why’d you leave us?” I paused for a bit before slightly choking out, “I wasn’t ready for you to go.”
She looked at me with a hint of sadness, but then embraced me in her arms. “I know you weren’t, but I left because I wanted to leave.” Tears started rolling down my face, and I choked out a “I understand.”
A bit later, I see her on the couch again, but a stranger – a man – has accompanied her. I have never seen this man, yet my mom is laughing with him and lightly touching his arm.
She looks at me, beaming, “He’s the love I never had.”
I turn around, allowing them some privacy. She’s finally happy after all.
I wake up. But no surprises. I might be okay today.