There are many messages wrapped in our dreams.
Reality and fiction become one in our dreams. In the quiet of the morning and sipping on my first cup of coffee the mind races in an attempt to analyze the movie that played the night before.
Last evening I dreamt I worked in a luxurious office building which was also a plush hotel. I was an extremely successful businessperson and had a very important meeting to attend as I exited the elevator into the hotel lobby. The sun reached through the floor to ceiling windows and reflected off the marble floors when I spotted my mother standing at the hotel’s front desk.
Mom’s hair was perfectly styled. She was wearing a fashionable light rose-colored dress with a matching jacket. She looked fabulous. I was so happy to see her and my heart was pounding with excitement. As I approached my mother it became clear things aren’t always the way they seem.
You see, mom died over seven years ago from Alzheimer’s disease. She lived in North Carolina and I lived in New York. My wife Cathy and I had just finished closing the family’s summer home for the season and were driving up the quarter-mile private road when my cell phone rang. The doctor from mom’s nursing home was on the line informing me she was in failing health and no longer conscious. He wanted permission to cease feeding her intravenously. A cold numbness encircled me as I made the lethal decision. No child should have to make such a horrible choice.
The following day my daughters, Cathy and I all arrived at my mom’s nursing home. Mother’s brother and sister-in-law came from the other side of North Carolina to see her one more time. After spending several days visiting their grandmother my daughters had to return home due to employment obligations. I know how hard that decision was for them to make. Cathy kept in contact with her school, informing them of the situation and that mom was still holding on.
Each day seemed like an eternity as I watched a woman who was once successful, educated, articulate, loving, accepting, and full of life slip deeper and deeper into the shadow of death. I was riddled with guilt watching her suffer for such a long time.
A wave of nervous anxiety envelopes me whenever I’m in a funeral home, hospital or nursing home. I fail miserably when it comes to holding a vigil for hours on end and can’t wait to flee the uncomfortable surroundings. Even though I knew mom was dying it was still a struggle for me to sit in her room for long periods of time. On the sixth day, Cathy and I sat in solemn silence watching the procession of nursing home staff enter my mother’s room to say their goodbyes. The inevitable had finally arrived. It was the saddest day of my life.
Hollywood routinely glamorizes death, In actuality, it is hideous to observe the slow demise of someone you love. For all of those days we were with my mom she never moved a muscle. Mom never opened her eyes and her mouth was frozen open in the shape of an oval.
Cathy stood on the left side of mom and I was on her right. We both laid our hands on hers as we stroked her forehead and arms. I leaned in and gave my mother a kiss on the cheek and whispered, “I love you, mom.” Cathy bent over mom, caressing her ever so gently and she whispered in her ear, “Rose…it’s time for you to go sleep with the angels.” Instantaneously something amazing happened. Mom had shown no signs of movement for several days, however, after Cathy spoke to her one tear formed and ever so softly rolled down her cheek. Our hearts skipped a beat. We stayed a while longer before retreating to our hotel room.
It was a little past midnight when the head nurse called to let me know my mother had just passed away. Mom died alone on the seventh day and that has been an internal struggle I have fought for several years.
I cannot describe how beautiful my mother looked in my dream. I hugged her and then noticed a far off daze in her eyes. I asked her how she got to where I worked and she couldn’t answer my question. I could tell by the expression she was there because she loved me and wanted to connect with me. I hugged mom one more time and explained the importance and urgency of the meeting I needed to attend. I went on to explain I wouldn’t be gone long and that she should wait for me.
I left my mom to attend to things I thought were so darn important. She stood there in my dream lost and alone. When I returned from my meeting the hotel staff had my mother on a sofa. She was disheveled and her nice coif was a matted mess. Mother didn’t recognize me anymore and she had crossed over to a point of no return.
When I awoke and while I was figuring this dream out I logged into Facebook. Facebook brings up things we did on the exact date last year and years prior. Lo and behold an article I wrote exactly 7 years to the day popped up and it was titled, “Why I hate Alzheimer’s Disease.”
Yes, I am still consumed with guilt for not being with my mother in spite of the fact she passed away more than 7 years ago.
Dennis L. Page