The Recurring Dream

This is a dream that I periodically revisit. Ever have one of those? It would be nice to have one that has a happy ending of sorts.  Mine is never like that. The scenario may change, but the outcome is always the same: The realization that my parents are dead and our relationship is over.

Variation #1: This is how it goes. I am trying to calm my mother. She is lying in a coffin, weeping.  My father sits on a couch nearby. My mother is wearing the cherry red dress we buried her in. Peter Pan collar, white cuffs and gold buttons. I had chosen it myself when sorting out her closet.  All her clothes had been in complete disarray—on wire hangers, draped over the hanging rods, and tossed in a heap on the closet floor.  It was as if her closet was smack in the middle of a wind tunnel. Chaos reigned supreme.  Or maybe it was the madness in her brain, a brain that had succumbed to Alzheimer’s, that caused it.

So I found the red dress, its tag still attached: $29.95, from J.C. Penney’s. When had she made the purchase?  Before she lost her mind to Alzheimer’s? Perhaps, and, just like that, she never got a chance to wear it. Except to her grave.

In my dream, I give my mother bread and water.

In my dream, I don’t know why my mother is crying. I assume she’s hungry so I give her some bread and hope that it’s one with raisins, her favorite kind. Eagerly, she devours it. Ironically, in life, she ate so little. “Como un pájaro,” my father says. Like a bird. Then, as if reviewing a scene of a crime, and suddenly realizing the identity of the murderer, he proclaims,

“It’s the cholesterol that gave her the Alzheimer’s! To control it, she stopped eating and it ate away at her brain, instead!”  That’s his theory and he is sticking to it, no matter what.

My mother then sits up in her coffin. The bread has made her thirsty. “Tengo sed,” she says.

I leave the room to get a glass of water. When I return, I find she has stepped out of the coffin. She is walking toward me, her thin, frail arms outstretched, as phantoms often do in scary movies when floating ethereally through graveyards.

“Tengo sed,” she repeats and I hand her the water.

At which time, a crowd gathers, shouting at me not to give her the drink. Too late. As she gulps it down, the water pours out of her body, seeping through ghostly skin and on to the floor. Which is when I remember. Oh yeah, that’s right. My mother is dead.

Then I wake up.

Variation #2:  Sometimes, my brother and I are in my childhood bedroom, looking out the window on to the street, waiting for our parents to return from running errands. Waiting. When finally their car pulls up, our hearts beat fast with anticipation. Yet no one comes out of the car. My brother and I look quizzically at each other and then it hits me. They’re not coming out of the car. They’re dead.

I've never gone bowling with my mother except in my dreams.

Variation #3: We’re in a bowling alley, which is odd because I never went bowling with my mother. She’s putting on her bowling shoes, and her back is to me. I cannot see her face. But I talk to her, and keep talking. She says nothing but keeps adjusting her shoes. Finally, I say, “Mama, Mama” No response. I wake up, remembering that she’s gone.

Creepy dreams, yes. Strange, even. Yet, I look forward to them because, crazy as they are, for a brief moment my parents are with me all over again–if only in my dreams.

31 thoughts on “The Recurring Dream

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  3. Hi Monica! I stopped by from The Lady Bloggers Tea Party and read your post about She Writes. I liked it so much I had to read more. I absolutely love this post. Oh, how I wish I could dream about my mom or grandfather (both deceased) but I never do.

  4. Freud maintains that all dreams arise from events of the previous 24 hours. If you think of a lost one frequently and intensively you will dream of them. These recurring wishes are bound to be frustated – they really have died. In several senses, do you not think these dreams are not happy? The death or loss of someone you care about cannot be happy and we all have to come to terms with the fact.

  5. Your dreams touched me. They are so vivid and filled with emotion. As you can see by my blog address, I’m a widow. When my husband first died, I often dreamed I was searching for him. Lately I dream he has decided to move away for some reason he refuses to share. Dreams are strange, aren’t they?

    I hope you’ll stop by my website and sign up to follow (scroll down to the bottom). I’ll follow yours, too.

    • Dreams are so powerful, aren’t they. The represent our innermost, raw emotions. And yes, they’re strange, too. We will analyze and analyze, but I don’t think we’ll ever understand their true meaning. But for you and I, it’s our way of remembering our loved ones. Maybe your husband will return to your dreams soon.

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I look forward to visiting your blog, too.

  6. Breathtaking, Monica. Thanks for sharing this on SheWrites – I’m thankful to have found you there.

  7. I recently lost my father. At first I had some strange dreams, but they were actually kind of comforting. They always ended with the same realization you had. You know, the, “Oh, yeah, my dad is dead,” realization. However, everyone of them had my father smiling this glorious smile, and although he never spoke, he let me know by his countenance that he was incredibly happy.

    • To see his smile again, is beautiful and no doubt very comforting. Which is exactly why I love my recurring dreams. For a moment (before that moment of realization kicks in) they’re alive again. I’m waiting for them, I’m talking to them, taking care of them and it feels so good. My parents have been gone for 17 years, and still these dreams comfort me. Thank you for sharing your personal reflections. And thank you for becoming a subscriber to my blog! 🙂

  8. Dreams can be wonderful, deciphering their meaning or purpose can become a tangled web. It was a good story you posted, but sad. It’s good you can remember all the details so clearly. I have a few visions, and I can remember these with a great deal of clarity. Love your blog-will return !!

    • Most of my dreams are vague, but this one is so powerful, and so haunting. The first time I had this dream, was the one with the glass of water, I woke up shaking. Now, I’m used to them, though they still frighten, me in some way, when the moment of clarity between dream and awakening breaks. Thank you for stopping by. I look forward to your return, and to checking out your blog, too. 🙂

    • Thank you so much! I’m thrilled that you’ve stopped by my blog and thank you for the warm welcome to She Writes. I look forward to getting to know you through your blog! 🙂

  9. No se nada de interpretar sueños, pero la recurrencia de ellos con tus padres probablemente dice mucho de cuanto los extrañas y cuanto quieres que esten contigo una vez mas. La necesidad de ver a los que ya no están es de los que nos quedamos y a pesar que el tiempo pasa y nos vamos resignando, nunca nos acostumbramos a no tenerlos y siempre hubieramos hecho cualquier cosa para que se quedaran mucho más. estoy de acuerdo contigo que en los sueños los tenemos nuevamente y que al despertar sentimos esa sensación de haberlos abrazado y de haberlos tocado, sin embargo, los sueños no siempre son tan recurrentes como el día a día y nunca son reales. Algun dia volveras a ver a tus padres, por lo menos eso es lo que espero yo que pase con los míos, mientras tanto disfruta tus sueños y los bellos recuerdos que quedaron en tu alma y en tu corazón.

  10. I’m sorry about your parents, Monica…I’m sure they’re together in heaven, healthy and happy to see their daughter is making people happy with her writing…


    • Thanks, Wendy. Your kind words mean a lot. One of the hardest parts of them both being gone, is I have no one to brag too, without seeming all full of myself. With parents, you’re never bragging. They love you and celebrate your achievements. I’m 55 but I can’t help feel like I’m an orphan. Sigh. BTW, have I ever told you just how much I appreciate you always commenting? Here’s my virtual hug to you. 🙂

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  12. How remarkable and … quite beautiful. You remember the conversations and the scenes. I like that. At least it is clear to you what the intended message of the dreams are… Dreams that are filled with undecipherable symbols can be frustrating. Thankfully I have less of them lately.
    Thanks again for stopping by my blog. I’m surprised Zemanta didn’t volunteer yours. I will add it to my recommended list. 🙂

    • Actually, I think they did. I was pinged, which is how I discovered you, and I’m glad I did. You have a lyrical style which I so appreciate. I look forward to exploring more of your site, too! Thanks for taking the time to stop by. 🙂

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  14. I do not know whether you wish to understand your dream. If you do, and assuming you are not familiar with it, I suggest you read Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams. Recurring dreams are common. They are simply unresolved and traumatic emotions and prompted by a recent event or memory recollection. Your dreams seem to imply some feeling of guilt at the loss of your mother. You think in some irrational way that your behaviour contributed to her death. When you ‘see’ your parents again guilt disappears and you are happy. I doubt very much whether you are guilty of anything but is you that has to be convinced. The experience of her death was traumatic and it is in the nature of trauma that it repeats itself. One way of dealing with this is to write it out in some creative form – a practice common in literature.
    I have a recurring dream. I am lost. I am on familiar territory and going home to my boyhood house but cannot work out how to get there. Obvious really.

    • Yes, I do feel guilt. The night before my mother died, my brother called me to tell me she wanted to talk to me. But I wasn’t home, and didn’t check my messages until after I learned she was brain dead. That’s my guilt, so I can see how my dream is my attempt to alter the past. Thank you for your insight.

      • I think more of my parents now that they are dead. I blame myself for not seeing more of them in their last few years. They retired to the Isle of Wight. It was a difficult journey and I was very busy at the time. My elder sister was very busy also but as I suspect with all elder sisters made an effort . I relied on her reports. Now I would give almost anything for a good chat. Sometimes I imagine I am talking to Dad in my lounge. I do not see him as old but somewhere near to his prime. I have many things to tell him and questions I need to ask. Alas, it is too late. Really, I wish to say I admire you Dad and I am proud of you now that I understand more. I never had the courage to say this to him and it is too late now.

      • Sounds like you understand my pain. My parents lived so far from me. In my case, I left it to my brother who lived very close to them. So when he called that fateful night and I wasn’t in, it set the course for a lifetime of guilt. I was out having fun with friends and frankly, it wasn’t worth it. This was before I had a cell phone.

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