As time goes on I am starting to find my words again. I still worry that I will be sad forever, big emotions make me tear without warning, and my kids are still trying to understand “why Grandma Ellen had to die?”
My Mom’s death was both sudden and unexpected. Although it was a natural death, I am still left with an unsettled and anxious feeling that someone will take something from me (like my mom was “taken” with from me). Selfish I know! I guess as the oldest child, I have never been good at sharing, and having my mom taken is a bit over the top for me. Unfortunately, the focus of this irrational fear falls mostly on the shoulders of my kids. I often find that I am more overly protective of what is “mine,” than I normally am. Poor kids! I promise I won’t stop letting them ride bikes or slide on the slides, although the thought has crossed my mind.
I spent very little time alone with my mom after she entered the hospital. Knowing that her brain had already stopped functioning, I just sat with her for a few moments. I quietly watched her chest rise and fall in rhythm with the machines that were keeping the blood flowing to her organs. Finally, I spoke to her and tried to make my peace. I apologized that this had to happen to her and for not being there when she was alone and scared. Lastly, I requested that she do one last thing for me, I needed a sign that she was ok and not scared or alone. When her Dad passed away, she found her peace in a sighting of a crow. She had told me that Grandpa promised her before he died that if there were something else out there, beyond this world, that he would figure out how to let her know that he was ok.
Sooooo, I think I got my sign. At night, when I’m sleeping, is when I feel the most peaceful about what has happened with my mom. Let me tell you about some of the other people who are going to play an important part in this post, my Grandpa and Grandma Rudiger.
My Grandpa Rudiger passed away several years ago. He died when I was in college. I have good memories of him from when I was little. Many of those memories come in the form of photographs and retellings of stories from our time together. The others are memories of sights, sounds, and brief interactions that I have connected to him. He is one of my “go to” people that I think about when I am feeling weak or scared. As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I feel like he walks with me during hard times.
I have written about my Grandma in the past as well. My Grandma Rudiger is still very much alive. She suffers from dementia and I don’t think she really knows who I am anymore. Despite her continued presence in this world, the Grandma that I lived with growing-up has no longer exists. I mourn the loss of that person while still celebrating the person that she is now. We have also worked hard to make sure my kids have some memory of her as well.
I have always had vivid dreams with colors and images that often stay with me throughout much of the following day. This has been a blessing and a curse at times. Vibrant pictures and in-depth scenes are great when the dreams are good. When they are bad, they stay with me just the same. In this case, I think my vivid dreams are a blessing. Last night I had a good dream. When I woke up this morning, I immediately started writing down what I could remember.
It started out with my mom buying a car. It was a really old, used car, but she was excited just the same. I was an observer for this part of the dream and I have no idea why it is significant. My mom just laughed and smiled as she drove down the street into a night full of stars.
In the next part of the dream that I was able to remember, I was walking into a familiar church. Crowed and informal, this was not somewhere that I had been before. Looking back at the setting and layout, I know now that it was OLA Church in downtown Claremont. This is the church that my Grandma has attended for the past million years. My mom was married there and I was baptized there. When I walked into the church, it was full of folding chairs and people who I knew. My purpose at the church was to check on my kids and make sure they were where they were supposed to be and of course grab a donut. That was always my favorite part of going to church with my Grandma. I found the kids sitting in a large group with Mrs. Going (Ethan’s preschool teacher), participating in a service for little kids.
When I turned around, I noticed my in-laws on the near side of the seating. They were waving to me to come and sit with them. Further across the room, my Mom stood and beckoned to me with a waving arm and pointed finger. I followed her finger with my eyes to find my Grandma sitting in her seat with bright eyes and full of life. She was just waiting for the service to begin. Beside my Grandma were two empty seats. I walked toward my Mom and Grandma with no intention of sitting through the service. At that moment, I just needed to see them and say “Hello.” I walked toward them with my pink rotary cutter in hand (too much quilting apparently, dreams are weird). I stopped in my tracks for a moment when I heard my Grandpa’s unmistakable laugh in the crowd behind me. I made my greeting with my Mom and Grandma and explained to them that I couldn’t stay because I had some errands to finish. I them to find my Grandpa. When I finally caught up with him, he was on his way out of the building. I don’t remember the exact conversation that we had, but I remember that he was looking for a children’s book that he loved when he was a child. I left his side, and headed out of the east gate of the parking lot toward the Downtown Claremont Village. As I wandered through the familiar stores, I could feel my stomach rumbling. I noticed a children’s book store and went in to search for my Grandpa’s book. The store was empty and peaceful. It was painted with vibrant blues and greens, mixed like only watercolors can when blended on the pages of a book. I felt as if I had been transported into a storybook world. I immediately found what I had been looking for. The book was sitting in a beautiful bright stream of light that seemed to be guiding me to the treasure on the shelf. I found my Grandpa’s missing book. I can’t remember the title of the book, and I don’t think it really matters. I picked up the book and started reading. I felt a warm safe feeling. The room around me turned into a rough and tumble world filled with shrieks and giggles. A small blue-eyed boy with brown hair laughed and cheered as he chased a wild creature covered with red, orange, and yellow scales. The warmth I felt around me felt like the boy was chasing the sun itself. I never saw the face of the creature or the boy. However, I am sure that this little boy must have been Ethan. I would recognize his energy and giggles anywhere.
At that point something must have started to wake me from my sleep. It may have been Maya starting to wake up in her room, or Ethan thrashing in bed next to me. He had had bad dreams earlier in the night. I abruptly fell out of the pages of the book and back into the store. I could feel a slight panic starting to set in as I realized that I had unfinished business to get to. I put the book back on the shelf and started to go get my Grandpa to tell him the news. As I headed back towards the church, I saw my Mom, Grandma, and Grandpa standing at the gate across the street. They were laughing and smiling as they stood together in the warm sun having a conversation just as if nothing had ever happened. I hesitated for a moment and went back into the store. I was afraid that if I crossed the street the book and the store would all disappear and I wouldn’t be able to get back to the book. I rushed back into the store and grabbed the book with a sense of great relief. As I turned to leave the store I was startled awake by my sweet little girl standing beside me at my bed.
And just like that they were gone again. That was my dream.
When I woke up fully, I felt warmth, love, and peace. For a while it was as if they had never left me. Like they were still here, channeling their love to me. I feel like my mom did for me as she felt my Grandpa had done for her. She reached out to me so that I would know that she is ok and with her dad.
Mom, Grandpa, and Grandma
I love you guys. You are welcome in my dreams anytime.