Of late, I have dreamed of my mother.
It started with a dream about a family gathering. The dream was obviously set after my mother's death because she wasn't present and my dad was running the show, but it wasn't a dream about her death or abut her being dead. She just wasn't there.
In the dream, I wound up taking a shower in the house's master bathroom because the other bathrooms were in use, and when I came out my father was just getting home and he said, "Alexandra, you're welcome to use that bathroom but please not when your mother is sleeping."
And from that point on in the dream, it became that the reason my mother hadn't been present was that she had been asleep in the bedroom, and that was it. She came out and told me off mildly for having woken her up while she was napping, then sat on the couch beside me.
One oddity about this dream is that I couldn't see her. It was like my point of view in the dream was always centered so she was just "off screen", "hiding behind the black". Teasing out the actual sensations experienced in dreams is difficult, but I also have the impression I didn't actually hear her voice, only that after she was done speaking each time, I knew what she had said. I was left with the knowledge.
If I really went for dream interpretation I would probably relate this to something my father told me, after I raised the question of his beliefs re:mortality, following the death of his brother. What he told me was that if, after he's gone, we can think about a situation where we might seek his counsel and we can imagine what he would say to us, we can know what he would tell us on a given topic, then that means he did his job right and that he's not really gone from our lives.
This is somewhat undercut by the things my mother said to me in the dream, which was relationship advice culled from a couples discussion group she said she attended with my next-door neighbors (whom she never met, and who live nowhere near anywhere she's ever lived in real life) and included such gems as "you have to weaponize your fears".
Dreams... it's not that I don't think there's nothing to be gleaned from dreams. But a lot of it is like hearing voices in static or seeing shapes in clouds. The mind seeks patterns, first when the dream is happening and then when you try to contextualize it upon waking, and then again each time you try to recall it.
I somewhat suspect people who have very orderly, structured dreams in which no one says anything that's completely nonsensical and everything makes waking-world sense are actually just better at imposing logic on their fragile memories. I'm also skeptical of a lot of what gets reported as "lucid dreaming" -- if you dream that you have total awareness of your dream state and control over what happens, is that going to feel substantially different than actually having those things? Would you know the difference? Could you?
Since the night I had that dream -- and I'm not sure when it was exactly, except that it was earlier than Wednesday of last week -- I feel like I've dreamed of my mother every night, after a long stretch of not really doing it. Her birthday was the week before last, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Or maybe I'm just a woman, standing on the skin of a rock, looking for patterns in the noise.
Thank You For Reading This!
You can receive future newsletters like this straight to your inbox as they go out for free. If you especially enjoy them and you wish to help me continue writing them, you can choose to purchase a paid subscription for $5 a month or $50 per year. Now through October 7th, when you purchase a paid subscription you will receive 20% off the cost of the subscription for as long as you keep it. That’s $4 a month or $40 per year!