Three butterflies flitted and danced as I followed them along the garden path. Everything was sundrenched and blooming—voluptuous peonies, scented roses, buttercups, lily-of-the-valley—warmth poured over my head and dripped down my shoulders.
And there, in a garden chair, with a sun hat crooked over her blue eyes sat my mother.
“Mom!” I rushed to her, “You’re here! But you died. I saw you die.” My mind flashed to those dark early morning hours where she gasped and writhed and finally lay still.
She looked at me with some confusion. “I was really sick. But I didn’t die. Look–“ she stretched out her strong arms and kicked the sandals off her slim tanned feet, “I’m healthier than I’ve been in years. And I have so much planned for today. We’re going to swim and sew a dress for Mary and eat dinner in the garden.”
“But Mom,” I dropped to my knees and put my head in her lap. “I don’t think this is real. We buried you Mom. I dressed you myself. I stood by your coffin.”
“Oh honey,” she stroked my hair, “you’ve always been prone to nightmares. Remember how often you crawled into my bed as a little girl? I’m so sorry. What a terrible, terrible nightmare.”
And then I woke up and found the nightmare was truth.
Shortly after my mother’s death, Jill (who I have yet to meet) left a comment saying, “It’s been 8 months since my father died. I wish I could tell you it gets easier…”
I thought then, “It has to get easier!” And it does. But harder too. I am happy every day. I am sad every day.
I fear I am wearying people with my grief. The world has moved on; I haven’t. Not completely. I see other tragedies—the loss of a spouse, a child, a marriage, a country—and know those must be so much worse. But I’m still aching, still grieving (still talking about it on Segullah today).
Some nights I dream of the end of time— a bright flash and my mother standing beside me healthy and whole, Zaila with her baby, little Trevor on his father’s shoulder.
I’m not wishing this life away. My home is full of goodness and promise. But I look forward to that bright perfect day when our sorrows fade like a half-remembered nightmare in the morning light.