My mother appeared in my dream,
long after her death and still deep in my grief, I saw her
having just tumbled out of the underbrush,
a black shadowy figure,
bent and fallen under the remnant memory of her constant companion,
an evil spirit of diabolical rheumatoid arthritis,
whose hegemony she’d controlled for so many years.
In swift motion, so fast I could not see the ascent,
the lifting up from the road, and
her gliding motion into upright, youthful womanhood
in a lightsome loose summer dress.
There was another figure at the top of the wooded road, my Dad, who’d ascended this hill a quarter century before her.
He’d died in the full flower of his manhood,
with his youthful family around him,
his father and younger sister joining my Mom and my siblings in a terrible recitation,
the painfully necessary last family rosary.
Mom was the only constant in that prayer that day,
serene, regal almost, until the terrifying moment when he really did stop breathing.
I remember her soft shout, “Eddie, don’t leave me; I need you…,”
so soon after her majestic mention that he could go and and join his Lord.
So set in diamond memory are those moments when our loved ones leave.
Every unimportant and nonsensical detail etched by obsidian blades
into the tough skin of our emotional underbellies,
never to be erased.
I imagine the pain of that death bed scene encouraged Mom
to leave us orphaned
in a singularly stunning instantaneous death,
fully prepared, and not un-prophesied,
She died alone,
not unloved, not fretted over, nor deprived of her pathological privacy.
Mom rose from the rubble of her ruined body and joined my Dad,
in trousers and a short sleeved summer shirt,
both of them young and full of promise.
They embraced and turned to walk up the hill.
My Dad’s figure now a Christ, waiting for them who don’t look back.
It is an extremely comforting dream. The anima and the animus, the patriarch and the matriarch of my soul joined forever in the youthful couplings I was so accustomed to when they were young. I got to witness so much more of their youth than my siblings, because I was a baby with those kids, our folks. But they kept their tender moments, too, even long after he’d died.
There is so much gratitude in me for this dream and for the awareness it activates in my mind, as I race to the finish line, worried that I will lose my mind before the end, but sure that there is youthful falling in love with so many and with the One most blessed Love of my life, up that hill and after the tumbling out of the undergrowth of my own bearing up for a few more years.
Mom and Dad Among the Sycamores
30 April 2013
Dennis McNally, SJ