Happy Birthday, Mama

A few nights ago I had a dream that I saw my mother.

I was entering a room, and looked up and saw her standing there.

I wanted to run to her, to hug her, to cry on her.

But she would not let me. She would not hug me.

I understand now that she could not, because she doesn’t have her resurrected body yet.

But I didn’t understand that in my dream-vision-visit.

So I stood away from her, but still chattered away at her as I used to do. I was so excited to see her, and had so much to tell her. I told her about Nathan, about the miscarriage, and about Israel.

I told her about her death.

It was crazy, I said to her. They tried to tell us you were dead. There was some kind of car accident, and we were there trying to cut you out, and your body was stuck, and all your bones shattered, and there was nothing left of you so they let me kiss your forehead goodbye and then took your body away and gave me ashes. Ashes, mom! Can you believe it? How crazy is that?

Explaining to my mom how ridiculous this whole drama brought up more questions, which continued my rant.

Ashes! Can you believe it? As if I would give permission for you to be turned to ashes!

Now on a roll, my tirade exploded with the implications:

And since you aren’t dead after all, what am I supposed to do with those ashes in my bedroom? Whose are they? How could they mess something like this up? How do you send home the wrong ashes?

I was on a roll.

I told my mom she needed to call the funeral home and ask how we return the ashes, because clearly the ashes could not be hers.

I was busy in my dream, cooking or doing dishes or something, as if I had come home from work all riled up and we were in the kitchen together like always.

Except she wasn’t fussing at me.

Except she wasn’t arguing with me.

Except she wasn’t denying that those were her ashes.

That’s when I froze.

Right there in my dream, with whatever I was being too busy doing instead of helping her or paying attention to her, I froze mid-action, mid-sentence, mid-breath, because I realized she was not disputing my story.

My whole body went cold, and my skin went clammy, and I am pretty sure I stopped breathing.

She wasn’t denying her death. She wasn’t denying it because she really did die.

She wasn’t there for me to tell a crazy drama story to, but she was there to help me process that she really is gone.

She couldn’t hug me because this was only her spirit, and she is waiting for her new healed body before she can touch me again.

She wasn’t there to say she wasn’t dead; she was there to say goodbye.

After what seemed eons, I finally could force myself to look up at her.

She just smiled, and waved me the I Love You sign.

Tears began to pour down my face.

Because I love her so much, and want more than anything for her to know she is loved and to be happy, I forced a smile through my tears and waved the I Love You sign back to her.

I didn’t argue anymore, and I stopped repeating the shocking details of the accident. She knew, and I just let it be. I let it go.

I looked at her, and it physically hurt, like a burning of my skin with an aching in my bones, that I could not hold her or run to her or hug her. She always gave me the best hugs.

But I was glad to see her, even if my heart could not breathe.

So I smiled, still with silent tears, and she smiled back.

That’s when Nathan started trying to wake me to begin our day, and I cried out.

He said I jumped clean out of my skin, and I told him it was because I had escaped my skin.

It was as if I had been ripped from one planet to another, and my spirit could not quite squeeze back into my body. It was too sudden a transition. My spirit didn’t want to leave my mother, and my body was being shaken from another place, and it was painful somehow.

And when I woke, I cried for her, and reached for her, and mourned for her.

The morning sun was too bright that day, and the breakfast room too loud, and the city of tourists too busy. I had been to a temple space, a still and peaceful place, and I did not want to leave.

I did not want to leave her.

I did not want her to leave me.

If I close my eyes, and take my ears off, I can still feel her near.

I can still see her smile.

I just wanted to tell her happy birthday.


Posted in Family permalink

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Happy Birthday, Mama — 3 Comments

  1. …and you did tell her Happy Birthday, in a very special and Emily way. You were a gift to her, as much as she was a gift to you! <3

  2. Emily,
    I am happy that the Lord blessed you with this opportunity in a dream to be with your mom. I know he did the same for me with both of my parents and it was a tremendous blessing.

  3. Emily, I loved how you told the story of your dream. I weep with you at your loss. May you continue to be blessed with comfort and love from a caring Heavenly Father.