Tuesday, September 7, 2010

unfinished

Last time you see someone you don't know it will be the last time. And all that you know now, if only you'd known then. But you didn't know, and now it's too late. And you tell yourself How could I have known. I could not have known.

You tell yourself.

Joyce Carol Oates, Missing Mom



"I have dreamed several times about the last time I saw my mother."

"Mmm. And are these dreams an accurate representation of your last time with your mother? Or, are you fantasizing the situation, again." She says 'again' the way a mother might say it to a child who has stolen a cookie and is eating it. And when the mother has discovered the child this child still has chocolate on her lips and a delightful smile on her face. And the mother says, "Have you stolen a cookie, again?"

I stay silent and while I do her lips purse together in a way that could be perceived as thoughtfulness or frustration. I am not sure.

Finally I say flatly, "They are pure conjecture. Pure fantasy. They are dreams."

"And why do you suppose you are fantasizing while you are asleep about the last time you saw your mother?"

The undertone in her voice suggests she does not believe me. She does not believe that I am dreaming? Or, she does not believe that it is not the way it actually occurred? It is almost comical how she is the one asking the questions, not me. After all I am paying for this hour. Shouldn't I be able to ask the questions? In a strange twist of reality, it reminds me of my mother. I can almost hear her saying into my ear, "Well, honey what do you think?" And I can almost feel my frustration with having to analyze yet another situation. In the present, in this office, I look vaguely and distractedly at her crisp white linen blouse, and I decide to ignore her question.

"In one dream we are on the beach. This is my favorite dream. There is a window in a cabin and I think it is some sort of family reunion. I am looking out the window with my hand pushing the thin cotton curtains aside. I can see my sisters and my brothers and their children and they are all building sand castles. I am not participating, but I am inside watching. And mom is behind me. Doing something, but I am not sure what. But, she is busy. I feel this strange sense of.........calm. Like peace. And I know that this is it. This is our last time together. I know that she will die. In the dream since I know this I am trying to feel everything. I am trying to memorize every detail. In the dream I plan to hug a little longer. I plan to let my hand linger on her face so that I don't forget how soft it is. I plan to soak in her scent. I plan to breather her in. I plan to be able to go back later and relive the last moment in amazing detail."

I pause and glance her way. I am not sure she is listening to me. Until she says,

"And do you have a chance to 'soak her in'? Before the dream ends?"

"I am not sure. I mean, I don't think the dream has ended. Yet. Not yet."

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