I saw you again last night. Your face boasted a mischievous grin, the kind that would slither itself to your lips whenever you were playing a joke on us. I must concede though, last night when you showed up behind me, and tugged on my shirt causing me to spin around in a state of hyper-agitation, I did not find humor in the joke. Not one ounce of me was laughing. Instead I looked upon your likeness with a terrifying wonderment. It was you, oh so clearly you, but how could it be? It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be because you are dead…
But there you were, standing as clear as anything right in front of me. Unbeknownst to me, my brain was holding my consciousness captive, and I was unaware that I was dreaming. So, please forgive my lacking in sense of humor.
In my dream I remember calling out your name and looking for you. I searched seemingly everywhere that I could. I tried your bedroom in our old house on 26th street. I went into the kitchen of that old house and bellowed your name aloud – nothing.
I even ascended the stairs of our cramped apartment in Calgary all those years ago. I tapped on what would have been your bedroom door and waited eagerly for a response – nothing…
I descended the stairs and was now in B.C., standing in the living-room within the low-income townhome I finished growing up in, Clover Court. Once more from the gut, I clamored your name – nothing…
I embarked on a journey up the two sets of seven or eight stairs towards the upper floor. Still, at this time I was unaware I was dreaming. It all felt so real. Now that I am awake and placing this into a conscious monologue though, it just seems… surreal…
When I got to the top of the stairs, the lights were off, and I was stricken with unease. In reality there was a light switch in the hallway, but in my twisted fabrication of tormented sleep, there was nothing but the darkened passageway that held me hostage and the yearning to call your name in hopes that you’d be there.
I said your name again, directing my baritone holler towards a closed door that was your bedroom. After several seconds of agonizing wait time I spoke your title aloud once more – nothing…
I took one step closer to your door, and that’s when it happened… I felt a tug on the back of my shirt. It was so strong that it stopped me in place. Knowing that no-one was behind me moments ago, the hairs on the back of my neck began to stand ready for battle. I clenched my fists into tightened balls of war, ready to unleash an unhinged rage upon whatever nefarious evil stood lurking behind me. One deep breath, then another, and then a third slightly less inhaled breath and I spun around with speed and vigor only to be leveled without ever being hit with a punch. It was you. You were standing barely an arm’s reach from me with that unmistakable mom like grin.
I said your name with precipitously failing breath – nothing… just a cheeky smile was returned to me…
I began to fall backwards as my body gave way to the shock of it all. There was no more railing to catch me, so I just fell. My heart quickened as panic cemented itself to every rushing cell of my body. I fell, and I fell and continued to fall… I fell until I landed on my bed. A sudden jolt shook its way through me. The sheer force of landing woke me. I sat up within my bed, atop of my restless sweat soaked sheets, and you were gone. As was your smile. In my haze, I spoke your name one last time, “mum,” – nothing… just a painful silence of night. A near deafening one.
It has been 4 months since the day you took your own life. Since the pills took you from us. 4 months and countless dreams such as these later, and my wounded mind still searches for you as if somewhere deep in the back of the blackest corners of my mind remains there a refusal to concede that it’s real, that your gone. But you are. And so, on nights like these, the ones where you revisit my slumbering and injured mind you can understand my fright and confusion, along with my lack of humor. Can’t you?
Mum, I loved you in life with pieces of me larger than you ever sought to fathom. Near the end of your life I remember speaking to you through quivering tone, explaining that I didn’t think I could live this life without you. Your response was one of silence. An ominous one now, in retrospect. The reason we were confabulating on such pernicious things was because you had told me how you wanted to die. You told me how you would do it, and you explained with a callous tone how it wouldn’t matter if you did. You said none of your kids loved you, I corrected you. You ignored me. You said you had nothing to live for, I corrected you. You ignored me. You said that we all had our own lives to live and that we no longer needed a mother, I corrected you. You ignored me. When I told you that I wanted to die, that I wanted to jump from a bridge and end everything because I was in such pain, you did something far worse than ignore me – you boasted how you would “beat me to it” … and so you did… so you did… A winnerless race.
It took me a few moments to collect myself and my thoughts after waking up this way. A beer called out to me from the fridge, it crooned a familiar fable, ‘I can help…’ I ignored it… I rolled over in my bed out of defiance to the calling vice.
I took the pain instead.
For the next little while I lay curled in my bed, enveloped by thought. I thought of you, and the day that I learned I had lost you. I thought of all of the suicides that I have been to as a medic, and all the nights we spoke about them, the bad ones, the ones that lingered beneath the surface of my skin. I talked to you about suicides, but now that you’re gone mum, who will I speak to now? Who do I talk to about your suicide?
I am aware that my dreams are not really you. That it’s just my mind bleeding in pain. I know that writing this is futile in the way it is written as you will never read it. It will remain written by me to you who is now no one… I am aware of these things.
I gotta tell you though mum, sometimes it’s hard not to get angry with you – I once told you after you had made mention of suicide over the phone on a separate occasion that I don’t have room in my head for anymore ghosts. That I see the dead enough. I see their eyes, their lips, their hair, and their now spirit like features. I see their diseased skin and remember the smell that goes with it. I see the blue in their nail-beds and their wandering dead eyes. I see it all. And now, mum… I see you too… perhaps the most painful of ghosts.
For certain the one life I wish most that I could have saved…
Dreams such as these typically set the tone for the day ahead – ironic in that today is therapy day… After a night like the one mentioned above, my day is then usually filled with apparitions. Sometimes I think I can see your reflection in a shop window – it’s not you though, just some lady waiting for the bus. Speaking of bus, sometimes you paint your likeness overtop of the features of an old lady boarding the bus, it’s almost uncanny, and frightfully sad. It becomes a day filled with seeing you, but in the worst possible way… I say it is the worst because I can call out for you, sometimes I even want too, but if I did, I know that I would be met with nothing… nothing at all… the absence of response and thus further reminder on the finality of what you did… of what is gone… you are…
I look forward to the day that I can see you in my dreams and wake with fondness as a bedfellow instead of fright and confusion.
But I guess until then mum, I’ll see ya ‘round…
I’m so sorry.
My God, you have such a powerful way of illustrating. Your writing is like a painting, it speaks differently than simple words might convey.
And to mum, may you find that peaceful place where memories of her do not haunt you so.
Peace and blessings to you
Thank you kindly, as always. Thank you for reading.
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