The dream woke me much like it always did.
Mommy rushed in like she always did and I cried into her chest until I had no voice.
“What’s wrong? Did you have a bad dream?” she asked me.
I shook my head without pulling my head from her chest. “Not bad just kinda sad.
“Aww, I’m sorry. Why sad, baby?” she asked in her best soft voice.
I trembled at the memory of the terrible dream.
“What is it sweetheart, you can tell me, it’s ok,” she reassured me while caressing my back and kissing my forehead.
I looked up at her with red watery eyes.
“Don’t cry, it was only a dream,” she said holding me up and forcing me to look into her eyes. “See?”
She took my hands and put them on her face, kissing my fingertips.
“See? Everything is okay. Do you believe me?”
I nodded with a sniff.
“Good,” she said, then after a hesitation, “Do you want to tell Mommy what your dream was about?”
“She misses you, mommy,” I said before I realized I was talking and not just thinking.
“The pretty lady.”
“What pretty lady honey?”
“What,” she said after I stopped. “Don’t be scared, nothing is going to happen to you if you tell me.”
“She didn’t believe me. I told her to have faith but she didn’t…she didn’t listen and so she didn’t believe me.”
Mommy frowned and looked sad at the same time. I didn’t want to upset her; I wanted to make her feel better. She wanted to make her feel better too.
“She was too scared to believe me, even after you came and showed her.” Mommy’s face changed back and forth from confusion to disbelief to understanding, and then finally to shock. I wished I could turn it to hope.
“But you did it, just like I said. You gave her faith,” I paused. “That’s why I came back for you. She wanted me near you.”
She stared at me with a dumbfounded look on her face. “Sweetie—“she began before coughing out the horse in her voice. “Who said this to you sweetheart?”
“Nobody, Mommy,” I answered her. I could see in her eyes she didn’t believe me, and—
Please, no more tears.
I heard it in my left hear and pulled back fast, thinking it was Mommy whispering in my ear for a second before I remembered who it really was.
“Why won’t you believe me? She didn’t either, and she…she—“
I screamed as loud as I could with my mind when the tears came again. I hated feeling like a big crybaby.
“Shhh, I believe you, honey,” she reassured. “Mommy always believes you hon.”
“I wasn’t supposed to say anything; she knew you would be sad.”
“She told you not to tell me?”
I shook my head. “Not her—me. I don’t wanna see you cry no more.”
I pulled back and looked at her, now that I stopped crying and could talk without a hiccup. She was calm but I could feel her body tremble as she looked at me. Her eyes were full of tears but they never fell.
“Why are you telling me this?” she asked me.
“Cause you always wished you had a Mommy, and you always ask if she loved you or even knew you. She does, Mommy. She always did.”
“You dreamed of this?” she asked me.
I nodded. “She’s glad I’m with you finally too.”
“What does that mean?”
I chuckled, as if it were obvious. “You already know that, duh.”
“I do?” she replied with surprise.
“Well yeah,” I said matter-of-factly. “You feel bad cause sometimes you think I take care of you more than you take care of me, but you shouldn’t.”
She pulled me towards her and squeezed me into her arms, hugging me tightly while caressing my hair. “How come darling?” she asked.
I smiled into her chest with warm hope. “Because that’s just what daddies do—it just happens without thinking—and it’s happy. You know what I mean.”
She held me tighter until I started to grunt with each breath before she realized it and let go a little.
“I don’t try to…I mean, I don’t have to. It’s like eating,” I explained.
“Has this happened before?” her voice choked up a little, but she coughed it out.
I shook my head. “Just this time. And never again, she said.”
“Why not ever again?”
“She just wanted to let you know she wishes she was there for you like this.”
I started to see the dream fading from my mind with each word—the way it had been doing since I awoke. My mouth spoke once more before stopping for good, though the words seemed distant and irrelevant to me.
“You wished for me when you were six, and I heard you, and tried to answer but couldn’t. I can now—always. That was all I wanted to tell you when you wished to know if I knew who you were—I always knew—how do you think you got your name.” I finished talking and she was still caressing my hair. I could feel a tear fall on my shoulder every so often but we never said another word—there was no reason to.
I sighed, and was asleep in her arms content knowing she believed me—that was more enough.
The rain didn’t come the way they were supposed to, and the clouds didn’t drown out the sun. It wasn’t cold, it was sunny and bright. The dying blades of grass dissolved and became part of the air, filling it with the remains of their short existence. The smell was exquisite, fresh and alive.
“Hi, Mom,” I said. The perfectly dug tomb in the grass in front me kept reminding me that I was alone despite my words—the silence that confirmed the lonely sadness went ignored, and I spoke anyways, even if my only audience was me.
“I know you’re still here,” I said. My eyes were focused on a small beam of sunlight shaped like a skewed diamond that managed to get past the trees and clouds until it reached the ground just between the hole and me, where it slowly faded after a moment until it was gone.
“If I could show you the things I’ve dreamed of since the day I remembered everything when I was little, maybe this would all be more sweet than bitter. I wish all those things I somehow knew would comfort me now, because the empty hole inside me now seems so impossible to fill.
“The pain is real—so real it’s hard to ignore. I can’t pretend to be happy, I can’t pretend that there’s comfort in the knowledge that you aren’t gone, that you will never truly be gone. It’s a lie—at least it would be if I were standing here telling you I’m all right. That I’m just fine. That the bright day you’ve given me here made it better because I know it’s just your way of telling me to move on and be happy. That you’re in a good place and what you want for me is love, not sadness. Because I know, believe me… I know.
“But I’m not fine. I’m not okie dokie. I’m…”
A breeze came from my left and circled in front of me, picking up a few leaves in the process and scattering them into the hole where my Mom’s body would soon be lowered into. I noticed the light on the ground had returned and also moved slightly towards the hole, far brighter than it was a moment ago.
“I get it,” I said to the empty space the wind was taking up.
I laughed again, a little harder this time.
“Why am I rationalizing this, God I must be losing my mind,” I said to myself. I knew I wasn’t—I knew deeper than anything I experienced that I wasn’t losing my mind, or talking to myself. Admitting it was a different story, though. I wasn’t four anymore.
“I wish I could remember the stories you used to tell me, the stories of when I was little. I miss listening to you tell me about them, like they were the best fairy tales ever written.”
Cause they were to me.
I heard myself think it, but knew somehow it wasn’t my thought.
The air tasted of pine, manure and flowers.
“I think about the people in the world who aren’t lucky enough to know anyone as giving and selfless as you. Why can’t—“
I don’t know what it was I expected, but I didn’t think it was going to be as hard as it was for me right then. Not ever.
“And now…Now I don’t know why I can’t say goodbye,” I stopped for a second as the words became harder to speak with each syllable becoming lower and lower until goodbye sounded like a whisper-choke.
“It’s all right. I mean, I know this isn’t goodbye and that you are never far away…” I lost my train of thoughts when I suddenly felt cold and hot at the same time. I could feel a burning in my chest that brought sweat to my skin and a chill that brought goosebumps to my arms.
And then it was gone.
I couldn’t help but grin while I rubbed it away.
“You know this, but get used to it—I’ll probably tell you every time I’m here—but I miss you. Even our records and terrible TV shows,” I felt my throat start to hurt, the words starting to resist me. “I’m going to miss explaining things like computers to you and the way you refuse to let me cook or drive for you. I can’t believe I’m not going to get the look anymore, the ‘you know better’ look you’d get when I would do something stupid. But you always let me figure it out, even if you were hiding right behind me, ready to jump in. Cause that’s you…
“You always knew better, and I’m not going to lie—“I laughed at the thought before going on, “it was pretty scary sometimes. ‘You won’t learn to stand up on your own until you fall down on your own,’—shit I can still hear your voice. I was so mad at you at first, but you knew I had it down even when I didn’t. You’d let me get so pissed, and I’d keep going but you still knew that if you gave in to me then, I would always expect it…” I wiped my eyes with my wrist. “. You made me who I am.”
I shut my eyes and felt three tears fall, one from the right, and two from the left. They crept downward slowly, savoring each pore on my face along the way.
“I need you to know and to believe me when I say this…please: I want you to go your way for now, look after you again. You’ll be around waiting for me when this is all through for me, and that’s all that matters to me. I know this, don’t worry. There’s a whole heaven to up there for you to explore, go do that. I’ll be all right.”
I knelt down and set a wallet sized photo she had given to me when I turned twelve. I don’t remember taking it, but she told me we had gone to Disneyland when I was four and took it at the photo booth by the Big White Mountain.
I looked at the photo and suddenly felt compelled to drop it into the pit. When I did, it landed face up on the wooden box my mother’s body was in. I stared at it for a moment before standing.
The beam of light faded back until it was no longer an odd shape slowly moving towards the hole—now it seemed to be a perfect diamond shape. If I didn’t know better I would have thought I was making it up; but knowing it wasn’t brought a slight smile to my face.
“I guess I’ll go home now.”
I turned and walked away, but stopped after a step and turned back.
“When she finds you—you know who I mean—tell her how I did just what she hoped. Tell her…just tell her the truth. She’ll believe it now.”
I waited for something, but nothing happened. The light slid into the hole until I could only see the corner. It kept drifting until it was barely a speck on a blade of grass, and then after a half-second it was no longer there at all.
“You don’t need proof if you have faith,” I said to myself.
I looked at the headstone that would mark this spot from today until who knows: Faith Iris Rose, 1933-2009 it read.
Walking away, I wondered when the time would come for me to say my last goodbye to this place—and on the heels of that: what would my stone read when that day comes?