Dreaming of Mom

July 3, 2018

One week after Mom's death I had my first re-occurring dream. The dream came to me many, many times in the first three years after her death. The dream always started with a phone call from Mom. 


"Hello?" I say.

"Hi Honey!"


"Yeah! Hey sweetie, how are you?"

I hesitate.

"Mom, how are you calling me? You're dead."

"Don't be ridiculous! How could I be calling you if I was dead? I'm fine! Anyway, I went shopping today and got the cutest blouse. Did you know The Gap is having a sale? I got a couple things for you, too."


Sometimes I wake up here, comforted by my mother's voice, her soft memory. Then I'm startled when I remember she's gone.

Other times she tries to convince me it isn't true.


"Mom, how are you calling me? Mom. You're dead."

"No, Jenny, I'm not. You're confused. It's okay, it happens when you're grieving. It wasn't me who died." She picks someone from my life and tells me it was them, not her, who died.

"No, Mom, I'm sure. It was you. I saw your body. It was you. You were cold."

"Jennifer. I told you. You are confused. It wasn't me."

I wake up scared, quickly checking my phone to make sure everyone I love is alive and well.


Sometimes, she is furious at the accusation.

"Mom, how are you calling me? Mom. You're dead."

"No I'm not."

"Yes, you are Mom. We had the funeral. I have your ashes. I wear your necklace now, the one you always wore. Mom, you're dead."

"How dare you? You little know-it-all. Some people just have ungrateful children. Haven't I given you everything you little shit? Not everyone has a mother who works to buy them nice clothes and not everyone gets to go to college and live in a nice apartment. Maybe everyone just wishes I was dead. Maybe everything would be better if I just got hit by a bus. Maybe I should just die-"

"No, Mom, I didn't mean it. I love you, please don't do anything stupid-"

"Oh, now I'm stupid? Just a stupid waste of space. No one appreciates me. No one cares if I'm dead or alive. It's just too much. It hurts! How could you do this to me? All I've ever tried to do is just support you and you can't just do the same for me."

She hangs up.


I wake up, unable to catch my breath, unable to tell if she is dead or alive. Eventually I remember she is dead and I feel relieved that I never have to have this conversation with her again. The relief is followed by a sickening guilt. I am free from her words and the fear of something happening to her.


I remember the wish I made as a little girl that scary mom would die and the good one would stay.  I force myself to remember that she was neither good or bad...there was good and bad within her. And she was sick. So very sick. The sickness slowly took over, manipulating and clouding even her most pure, well intentioned thoughts. Her mental illness, depression, anxiety, alcoholism and addiction killed her. They killed her slowly over many, many years like a cancer. 


I place my hand on my heart to steady it's beating and  say , "She killed herself. She. Killed. Herself."


She was killed by a sickness within herself. She was killed by a version of herself within herself.


I try to remember what it was like to start the day without the weight of a boulder on my chest. I do my best to shift the weight from my chest to my back and I start the day. 


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Los Angeles, CA, USA



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