By May Uy
A FEW days ago, my brother dreamt of my mom. As he was describing his dream, I was taken back to when I had my own dream of my mom. This was years ago, when my mom had just passed away. But the dream has remained vivid in my memories all this time.
It started the usual way. In these dreams, I was aware that she was gone; but in an inexplicable way she was back with us, so it seemed to be some sort of miracle, and all I could do was hug her tight, never wanting to let go. In these dreams though, no matter how I tried to hold on to her, and talk to her, to make her respond, she never hugged me back. She just sat there, smiling sadly. Most of the time her eyes were locked somewhere far away. She knew we were there, of course. But she was distant from us, as if she was there by sheer force of our will, and didn’t really belong with us anymore.
I knew then what these dreams signified. I would wake up crying, aching terribly inside from losing my mom all over again, but still not wanting to let go of anything connected to her. Not even the pain.
This time, though, the dream shifted, and I found myself in that in-between state of not-quite-asleep, not-quite-awake. There was foggy cloudy white all around me. I couldn’t see anything. Then I felt warm, gentle, familiar arms holding me tight… so tight. A voice whispered in my ear, “I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…” over and over again.
I struggled to talk; to say, “there’s nothing to be sorry about, it wasn’t your fault, I’m the one who’s sorry….” But then I realized that deep inside, these were words that I wanted— needed — to hear. There was a part of me that was angry. Very angry. At the world, at everything and everyone, at God; and yes, at my mom too.
My mom seemed to have received all the bad luck in some sick lottery. She had a second cancer invade her body after being a breast cancer survivor for over 20 years. This new type of cancer was totally different — rare, aggressive and with no clear symptoms until it hit the late stages. It was so rare, there wasn’t even much research into it and therefore no available standard treatment. She was given three to seven months to live. She lasted for all seven, slipped into a coma and quietly left us.
I felt that she, of all people, didn’t deserve this. Neither did I deserve to lose my mom so suddenly. There were surely worse people out there to choose from; why take my mom, our angel, who had never hurt anyone in her entire life, and who remained sweet and kind and loving throughout her ordeal? For that, I placed the blame solely, squarely, on God. We were good people, or at least trying to be. Why her? Why us? Why this?
I was angry at my mom, too, for being so calm and accepting of her fate. She had always been so strong in her faith. She had already made her peace with the whole situation and was ready for whatever was God’s will in her life. But I hadn’t been ready. Part of me still kept hoping for a miracle up to the very end. And so I was devastated when I finally realized there would not be one.
I woke up crying again, but the ache had eased. The questions were still unanswered, but something in me had let go.
I remembered a passage from a random book that goes like this: “I woke up knowing I had a mother out there still minding me. Today, I feel protected, like I’m swaddled in an invisible blanket.”
This was exactly what had happened to me. You could it say it was just a dream, just wishful thinking; but there is a certainty inside me that knows differently.
And now, after so long and as the 10th anniversary of her death drew near, my brother suddenly dreamt of her again. She was all in white, happy and smiling and glowing like an angel.
I now know that she really has moved on to a better place; more important, that she was waiting there for all of us, and someday we would see each other again. That was something to work for and look forward to. I would always long for her and wish things had ended differently. I knew from time to time my heart would still break from missing her so, but I had forgiven my mom for leaving us. The pain was now the sweeter ache of simply remembering her and her love.
And whenever I felt that I couldn’t handle the world without her by my side, I would have that memory of her last embrace to get me through another day.