So I saw this post from Ashley LeMieux, a content creator & author that I’ve followed for years. And it brought tears to my eyes before I even finished reading.
This week I had another dream about my mom, something that’s been oddly more frequent as of late. Maybe a few times a month since November? Typically it’s very rare for me to dream about her. Which breaks my heart, because she’s so real there. But if I’m being honest, my dreams are almost always more painful than not having any.
When I do dream about her, everything about the dream is different than the last–except one major thing. Every single dream follows the same plot: She enters a room and I’m overcome with relief and my entire body becomes enveloped by wave after wave of emotions, but by the end, through a varying series of events, I’m left with my insides burning in pain and hurt and anger.
I know. Grief isn’t very pretty.
But that’s what it is over here.
I’m sure no one imagines grief as a pleasurable experience by any stretch of the imagination–but rarely do we get details. We just know people are hurting… and that’s about the extent of it.
I wish I could say my dreams are where I get to go to be back with her–things just like there were when she was alive. I wish we laughed and bounced ideas off each other and baked and watched our favorite Adam Sandler movies and snuggled the dogs and watched the fireplace crackle.
I wish we were back sitting in the Dillard’s sale shoe section, me helping her decide which of the 28 pairs she picked out to keep. I wish we were running to QuikTrip for her concoction of hot chocolate and french vanilla latte. And eating Totino’s pizzas on the couch. And sitting under the warm laundry fresh out of the dryer together talking. And snacking on candy and singing along to our favorite songs on a long road trip next to my best friend.
I wish I was kid again. And that just one more time I got to see my mom do what she did best: be my mom.
Unfortunately, that’s not the way grief works I guess.
And I’m sure there’s a psychological answer that would explain the nature of my dreams. But I’m not sure a psych degree is necessary to unweave this web. As far as I can tell, it’s actually quite simple:
I miss my mom and I’m so fucking mad she’s gone.
I’m mad at God. I’m mad at myself. I’m mad at her. I’m mad at the whole fucking world.
Who let this happen? Who decided that the planet could keep spinning without her? That companies would still require their employees to show up? That bills are still due? That people will still laugh? That a waitress still needs me to tell her my order?
Doesn’t everyone know?! My mom is DEAD.
So why the fuck is the rest of the world still existing like she isn’t?
Told ya. It ain’t pretty.
Fortunately, not every day is like that. And with every year that passes, fewer and fewer days are. But I have this sneaking feeling they won’t ever fully stop. Because I will never fully stop being absolutely devastated.
Anyways, back to Ashley LeMieux’s post:
(PS: This is the type of thing you become unnaturally comfortable with once you’ve lost someone. The scary ability to jump between the abyss of your darkest emotions… right back into regular life. To be fair though, as psycho as it seems, this skill is born from necessity. A survival mechanism that sometimes is the only thing that gets you through the day.)
It is absolutely jarring how logic and grief are in this constant battle. And I mean constant.
How in her post, Ashley says a part of her believes maybe she’ll so casually run into them again. That maybe somehow they’re out there. Living their life.
I was there. I saw it with my own eyes at 12:30pm on August 7th 2018. I was in the accident that took my mom’s life. But yet, my dreams can still conjure up that somehow maybe she isn’t really gone? That it’s all this big mistake and she’s totally fine.
The dream I had this week was very vivid. They all are, but this one… this one dreaming-me was extra emotional I guess. Which maybe that’s a good sign about conscious-me? Maybe I am getting to a point where I can tolerate the emotions my dreams force me to explore at bit more than in the past.
There’s one part that I can’t get out of my head. She appears, and whatever I was doing just comes to a screeching halt. I had this box of Christmas ornaments in my hands and when our eyes meet, I run across a room I don’t know to meet her. And when I get close enough, I throw my arms around her so tight that I practically break her in half. So abruptly that the ornaments don’t even make it out of my arms and the box is crushed between us. I come in so hot that I manage to knock us both over and I just lay on top of her in tears, never wanting to let go. So I just hug her. And hug her. And hug her.
In past dreams, I’m always overwhelmed when she appears–that’s always consistent. But in this one, the way I just laid there, practically crushing her but not caring at all. The way not amount of time was going to be enough now that I finally get to see her again. I had her in my grasp and I wasn’t going to let go… It was especially vulnerable. Child-like, in fact. Like my grown woman body was suddenly thrown back to childhood. Needing my mom more than anything.
The way my heart just fully let itself melt, holding nothing back. As if somehow, for just a second, the dream was real. She’s okay. And she’s here! In my arms again and I am never letting go.
I can practically feel the tingle of relief in my bones and the instant weightlessness, as the heaviest burden I bare finally releases me and I can take a full breath for the first time in 5 1/2 years.
It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced… literally.
But just like always, far too quickly, my dream turns sour. She has no answers for where she’s been or she has to leave again right away, or some other version where I suddenly realize my life isn’t going back to “normal”. That she is going to abandon me again, and soon. The realization knocks the wind from my chest. I turn crazed with devastation and anger and confusion. Begging her not to until my subconscious can’t take this sick joke any longer and I finally wake up.
Waking up after an experience like that… returning to the crushing weight of reality. That shit could rock the most solid among us.
It’s the anger part that is so hard for me to process though. Because logically, not one single cell in my body is mad at my mom, or anyone else for that matter. Anyone who knows her… knew her can confirm, being a mom was her favorite thing ever and she would’ve been absolutely devastated to see it be cut short. She was so excited to be apart of every. single. phase of my life–big or small. Even though I was years from it, she would talk about my wedding and things we need to remember for when planning it. She would talk about her future grandchildren. And God when I think about how excited she was about one day being a grandmother… it nearly rips my heart into a million pieces. My future kids would’ve been the luckiest grandkids on the face of the earth to have her as their grandma.
Logically, I am not mad at her.
Logically, I am devastated for her. And me. And my future family. And everyone who ever had the pleasure of knowing her. Because to know her, was to love her.
Emotionally? I’m a bottomless pit of anger, depression, disappointment, and abandonment.
And man is it difficult to reconcile the two.
Her birthday is January 27th.
She would’ve been 49 this year. Forty-nine.
I realize people tragically lose their lives at far younger ages all the time. I know that.
But losing her at 43? She was just getting started. For so many people, that’s only halfway through their life–for the luckiest, even less than half.
By that math, I would’ve been halfway through my life when she died. Being days within turning 22, I was nearly exactly half her age. Now at 27, I cannot fathom a reality where I would only have 16 years left to do and be everything I want in this life?
I’m so unbelievably grateful for the just shy of 22 years I got with her. But I will never stop mourning the other 40+ I should’ve had with her. The other 40+ she should’ve had for herself. Forty more years of memories, experiences, love, laughter, and just plain life.
I miss her everyday.
This time of year is especially tough. The holidays bring their own complicated feelings. Then I finally get to come up for air in January… and very quickly her birthday is posted up in my mind… “Yep, she’s still dead.”
God even the word. “Dead.” YUCK. I absolutely despise it. But anything less feels… inaccurate. There’s so many softer alternatives, “gone” for example, is my usual go-to. But, she’s not gone. She not gone to the store. Or gone to the movies. Or gone to Florida. She’s not gone.
A hard truth that just never seems to fully resonate in my mind.
If you’ve ever experienced a devastating loss, then you know what it’s like. Just how horrible it is. And if you haven’t, I sincerely envy you. And I am so unbelievably sorry for when that day comes in your own life. When you’re forced to join this absolute bullshit club of people who’ve lost someone.
So in 2024, soak up everything about your people as you possibly can. Watch their mannerisms and giggle at their quarks. Memorize the veins in their hands and the lines by their smiles. Breath in their smell. Watch the way they look as they belly laugh at their favorite movie. Notice how their hair reflects in the sunlight or the way their bangs fall in their eyes as they pick up the fall leaves. The way they belt out the chorus of their favorite song in the car. Appreciate how peaceful they look while they sleep. How their pure heart breaks at all the pain in the world. Envelope how strong and confident they look when they cross the race finish line. How passionately they chase their dreams. How their face beams when they tell you they’re proud of you. Memorize it all. Hug them long and tight. Find gratitude for every day you get with them–even the hard ones. Because one day, all you’ll want is more. More of everything about them. This year, take every single moment you can and store it safely in the deepest parts of your mind and heart.
As always, thank you for being here.
Happy Birthday, mom. I love you.