Last night my dreams were full of my mother again, but they were a new sort of dream, and have thankfully returned to being gentle and comforting – perhaps my reward to returning to the blogosphere! They were too long and complicated to try and capture in full, but there were a few key scenes I would like to hold onto. The first took place in Pietermaritzburg, the city in which I went to High School and University, and last lived with my mother. I was living there again, though in a different part of the city, and in a very different sort of house. During the evening more and more guests kept arriving, mostly unexpectedly, and I was wondering where on earth they were all going to sleep. Later my mother and her partner Dirk arrived, and someone asked her why it had taken so many months since her death for her to come and visit. She replied that she thought people had needed a few months of private time to mourn and really feel the pain and loss on their own first. Dirk murmured his assent, acknowledging that his suffering had been necessary.
Another scene that particularly stayed with me was a formal ceremony of some sort for Dirk. I am not completely clear on what this was, but it seemed to be partly celebrating his life, and part of a process of finding a way forward with his life without Tessa. Everyone was dressed up as for a wedding, waiting for us in a hall. He and Tessa walked up onto a platform, she dressed in beautiful, textured red, and there was a bizarre ritual where she stepped into a cupboard or box or upright coffin of some description and vanished, then reappeared, symbolising her disappearance in death but later re-emergence within us, and I sat and sobbed loudly (to disapproving glances, since this was supposed to be about Dirk, and celebration, not my own sorrow).
We then moved down through a cathedral, down many steps, to a most beautiful azure sea and a small, enclosed beach. Tessa was no longer with us, and I just wanted to dive right into the gorgeous, warm water, but my sister Elin warned me I would ruin my beloved light blue Thai silk dress, so I hesitated, but we then both ended up in the water in our dresses, as everyone else left. The water was soothing, surrounding me in a calm comfort as if in my mother’s arms again.
This morning, feeling my recent hardness melting at the edges, I put Greg Brown’s ‘Spring Wind’ on my ipod and finally, after all these weeks, found images of my last days with my mother flooding me, and the dam of tears broke to leave pools on the station platform. Goddammit I MISS her!
My eldest son turned 4 today, and I was up early wrapping his presents and arranging them on the table, ready for his waking excitement. In the early morning light, I saw images of many of my wonderful birthday mornings flitting past my eyes. My parents were experts at making each and every birthday special, and I suddenly felt them within me, accompanying me, guiding me; showing me through experience what to do to make this day special for the next generation. It’s funny the ways we come to embody aspects of our parents…