This morning I had the most pleasant conversation with my mom. She hadn’t been talkative lately and it was good to hear her voice again. She reaffirmed her concerns about me, age four, and my sisters, ages eight and eleven, walking to school every day from our house on Bradley Street, down Winbourne Avenue, to Choctaw Elementary on Michelli Drive. She always said it was a mile each way. (I checked. She was right.) She always thought I started school too early, and it bothered her that I was the smallest one in my class.
The conversation was never too shallow or too deep, but swift, and we flowed from topic to topic effortlessly. Time passed unnoticed. Even the coffee was just right. I listened to her stories one after another until I woke up.
And that’s when I got sick to my stomach. Literally. Dreams fueled by grief aren’t bad dreams. They’re actually quite wonderful. It’s the waking up that hurts.
Mom’s undiagnosed atrial fibrillation (a-fib) sent a clot from her heart to her brain on July 20, 2016, leaving her paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. She is still in a nursing home, in hospice, trapped in a dwindling frame. She sleeps more and more. Most days she struggles to stay awake long enough to eat or take her medicine.
So, I know the only conversations we’ll have now in this life will be in my dreams. I treasure each one.
So why can’t I sleep?