Monday, March 9, 2009

Haunting Visions

I dreamt about my mother again, the other night. She and my Aunt Betty Marie were in my aunt's car, and mom was backing up and running into things in a parking lot. Upon awakening, I remembered that my previous study of dreams told me driving and crashing dreams indicate a feeling of being out of control, or lost. So I wondered, is my mom lost on the other side? Did she feel out of control there, or here? Or is it a symbol of my lack of ability to control this grieving process, this current stage of my life? So many unanswered questions about the last two years, why they happened the way they did, why it was left to me to exhaust myself caring for the two people I loved most in the world, and watching them wither and die.

I have a recurring vision of the last time my mom was in the hospital. She had been so cold for days, even though it was warm outside and in the house. She shivered the last time I bathed her,and I was sweating in the steamy bathroom, telling her there was no way she could be so cold. The following day, she began to have tachycardia (racing heart rate) again, and the Dr. sent her straight from his office to the hospital. There, it was discovered that she had low iron caused by some kind of internal bleeding, so they did a bunch of tests and gave her several pints of blood. She was there for four days.The day before her discharge, I was home cleaning to get ready for her, and I missed hearing the phone ring. When I finally heard it, it was my mom calling. She sounded very anxious and upset, saying she had been trying to call me for an hour or two. My mom had not dialed a phone for four months, so the fact that she was calling me indicated a desperation and a need. She said she was feeling crazy and wondered when I was coming to visit. I told her I had been cleaning to get ready for her to come home, and she said "I think I need to see you more than I need a clean house." My mother never wanted to bother anyone with her needs. It was so unlike her to ask for help. So I told her I would be there soon,put away my cleaning supplies, and rushed out the door. On the way over, I listened to my messages,four calls from my mother, her quivering voice asking me to call her back. And I remember feeling so bad that I had not been there to respond to her the moment that she needed me.

When I got there, she was sitting up in the bed, waiting. She was shaking a little. She said she had heard the Dr. outside her room telling the nurse that she couldn't come home with me, that she was too weak, and that she needed to go to a nursing home. I rubbed her arm and assured her I could handle her care, that I was never one to take orders from authority figures, and that perhaps now she would be grateful that I was such a rebel! This settled her, some. I brought her home the next day, wheeling her to my car in a wheelchair, wrapping her in blankets to stave off her chills, cradling her head to keep her from feeling so dizzy. She died two weeks later.

Looking back, I wonder if she was not trying to express the fear that is so hard for us to put words to, the fear of death. And I missed her signal, denying her an opportunity to talk about it, so caught up was I in wanting her to get stronger, to be well, to live--to spare me from another loss. I could not face the reality of her imminent passing from this earth, from me. But I remember feeling very tender toward her after this exchange between us, because she trusted me enough to pick up the phone and give me a call, to reach out to me, knowing I would be there to answer.

My mind and heart are filled with these visions of our last few months together. They haunt me in quiet moments. I fill my head with noise and my days with activity in an effort to block them out. I can't bear to look at them yet.