I had a dream last night my mom wasn’t actually dead. We had the funeral mass and the interment and then it turned out she was still alive. We chatted casually about how she was very nearly cremated. My mom commented on how easy it is to conform to societal and communal expectations, how she just about entered the furnace with an Our Father and blind faith.
But then she remembered that she wasn’t actually dead and recited a nursery rhyme to notify the technician. It occurred to me, in that moment, that my mom was Jesus, risen from the dead.
That’s when I woke up, and now I’m weepy. I consider going for a hike, but I’m not sure if my 2-year-old will be up for it. It’s not like I have the strength to carry her.
“You could at least go for a walk around the block,” I tell myself. “Get out of the house. Soak up some vitamin D.” But then I accidentally sit down with a hot cup of coffee. I soon find myself wrapped up in a warm blanket, the one my Grandma knitted, the one that covered my mom in her hospice bed, and I know I’m not going anywhere.
It’s one of those long days, at home with the 2-year-old and nothing to do. These are the days that are normally interrupted by a visit from my mom. Her car is parked outside our house. The doorbell rings but it’s only the mailman dropping off a package. Where is my mom?
“No more diapers!” I say with feigned enthusiasm. I need to do something besides sit around and cry all day, and what better way is there to lift one’s spirits than to potty train? Twenty minutes later she says she has to go potty and actually makes it to the chair in time. I’ll tell my mom when she gets here. She’ll be so proud.
“Have you ever seen a moose eating a moose?” My 2-year-old asks me, screwing up the rhyme from the children’s song Down by the Bay. “Have you ever seen a bear eating his ‘jamas*?” She cracks herself up. “Want me to do it again?” She asks, eager to please.
After lunch she requests “some songs”. She means the Trolls soundtrack. Those are the songs she wants to dance to. She sings along, “Knock me over. I will get back up again.”
All of this – the singing and the dancing and the joking and the peeing (well, in the potty) – is new. I can’t wait for my mom to see it. It’s been months since she came for a visit and today is a good day for one.
But then I remember that my mom is not Jesus. She is, in fact, still dead. The abrupt change in routine is overwhelming, and I feel sad. I feel sad for myself and also for my mom. These are just the first of all the many, many, little things she will never get to see.
“I miss my Mommy,” I tell my 2-year-old as tears well in my eyes (again).
“You miss your Mommy? Ohhh…” she says with genuine sympathy. “I miss my sister.”
“You miss your sister?” I ask, wondering if losing her sister to kindergarten feels more significant.
“I miss my Grandma too,” she says, as if reading my mind.
“Me too,” I say. “Me too.”
*Rhymes with llama