Over the course of a single evening, I have several dreams. Most are nonsensical, with my subconscious strangely reorganizing my experiences from the preceding day.
Every so often though, my mind throws me for a loop.
Last night I dreamed about my grandma for the first time in months. She’s only been gone a year and a half now, and to be honest, lately I’ve hardly noticed. It’s easy to forget when I no longer live at home where I would be surrounded by memories of her.
In the dream I’d just walked out of the room that used to be mine when I was little, the center bedroom in the house I grew up in. Ma was sitting at the kitchen table eating her lunch, for the sunlight seemed to be that of high noon. I said hello but made a B-line for the fridge to grab a Coke.
While I stood by the fridge chugging that soda, it dawned on me that Ma should not be there. We buried her months ago. I could still too clearly recall pacing the sterile halls of the hospital, waiting for her to wake up. She appeared smaller than usual in that bed, dwarfed by the medical apparatuses that were the only indication that she was still with us.
I remember when she stopped fighting, even though my grandpa begged her to hold on.
At our family church, I gave the crappy eulogy that I had to cut short because I’d started crying.
But God, there she was, sitting at the kitchen table again. This was no apparition.
The dream became a little bit fuzzy there. I remember having a short, private conversation with my grandpa though. He said that even though she did die, she somehow came back, and she had no recollection of dying. Everyone in the family decided to keep it that way. Strange as the circumstances were, they didn’t matter. The mere idea of losing her again so soon was enough to keep our mouths shut.
I remember feeling immense relief. I could now tell her all the things I wished I’d said aloud before she died. She could teach me how to cook my favorite Filipino dishes and how to sew on all the buttons that I seem to regularly lose.
When I awoke, I felt wistful but also at peace. I still miss her dearly and clearly she is still in my thoughts. Even now, I cry when I let myself do so, even though I know she would tell me to just be happy.
Death is just one of those certainties in life. The feelings of loss and heartbreak are not easy to manage, but there isn’t much else one can do other than coping in the healthiest possible way. While every death I will experience through out my life will be different, I like to think I’m now a tiny bit more prepared for them all. One must take them all in stride, and celebrate that person’s life rather than mourning his or her death (Another thing I internalized while I was studying Irish wakes in Ireland).