My mother came to me in a dream last night. This time it was definitely her. I was at work, in some back room standing in front of a computer with my former boss and one or two co-workers, reviewing the day’s plans, when Mom walked in, wearing these cute cotton pale-colored pajamas. She was smiling and looked very happy, and she looked like she’d lost some weight (she wasn’t fat when she died but the notes in her last doctor’s visit a few weeks before indicated that she should lose some weight, and she also wanted to lose some weight). At first I’d forgotten she died, and I just said, “Hey Mom!” and hugged her, and then I remembered she’d died, and I exclaimed, “Mom!” and I forget my exact words, but something along the lines of how glad I was that she was here, and I hugged her for longer, and told her how much I love her. For some reason we went over to a corner of the room and lay down on the ground, which was kind of dirty, and I thought for a second how gross it was, then I decided I didn’t care because Mom was here. We talked for a few, and then we got up and went into an upstairs bedroom that looked exactly like the one we slept in at my sister’s house when we spent last Thanksgiving together. We lay next to each other on the bed, and I asked her how long she could stick around, thinking we only had a few minutes, and she said, “They’ll let me stay for one or two days!” And I was really surprised and happy—all of our words were punctuated with joy and excitement, and she smiled the whole time. She just looked so happy. I think I said something about her pajamas—my mom loved wearing pajamas, and being comfortable—and she said, “I get to wear these all the time!”
It’s now 7:38am EST, September 11th, and 15 years ago I was living in Atlanta, getting ready for work, oblivious to the fact that in two hours I would learn that the twin towers had been hit by a terrorist attack, something that we never thought would happen in America—though I do remember worrying that the world might end in a nuclear bomb attack from Russia, and when Mom was little they had bomb drills at school, and people built bomb shelters underground. Still, we had a feeling of safety that we just don’t have today, and after the attack, we in Atlanta thought that the CDC would be hit, and driving home I had to drive past it, and I didn’t know if all of America would start getting bombed right then and there. It was a terrifying time.
It’s hard for me to think about 9/11 when my mother died suddenly three weeks ago, but my heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in the attack. I’m grateful my mom didn’t die in such a violent way, but I understand that I’m not immune to the possibility of a future tragic event happening to me or my loved ones. We just have to live each moment as if it were our last, and for me that no longer means something grandiose like traveling to India to meditate with a yogi (though that would be extremely cool), but it’s more about letting my loved ones know how much I love and appreciate them. It also means spending more time in nature.
Today I’m going to church which feels weird to say but that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying not to go with expectations that something amazing will happen but just to keep an open mind. More on that later.