I heard her voice call my name and for a split second, I forgot she was gone. Then her absence came back.
Since Mom’s death last spring, I’ve had very few dreams of her and most have been just flashes from childhood on the farm. Since she lived with me for several years prior to her death, I really thought it would have been a regular occurrence. But it hasn’t been. And I wonder why.
She was such a part of my everyday existence. I said a goodbye every morning, starting out as a “have a good day!” type call-out and then the last year or so before she died, it was more a, “Bye Mom,” just to make sure she made it through another night. I repeated it until she answered. I never left the house without an answer.
I knew she was slipping away but there wasn’t an official terminal diagnosis. Only the steady growth of old age. Old age and sitting in the big blue lounge chair in my living room and in death’s waiting room in her mind. Each day wore her down a little more. She was neither happy nor unhappy. Just patiently waiting until her time came. When it came, she was in a hospital bed, unconscious. Like a clock pendulum, her body functions slowed down until the inevitable happened. She stopped.
But she was ready. She wanted to go. She was so damn tired of living without Daddy. She missed him so much. And she hated being a “burden”. She wasn’t though. Not really. Even though I am ashamed to say there were times when, in my heart of hearts, I may have felt that way, however brief and selfish those feelings were. Now, I hate myself for those thoughts.
In one of her last lucid moments, she took my hand and looked into my eyes. “I’m so sorry I did this to you,” she said. I will agonize over those words the rest of my life because I understood her last regret in life was her inconvenience to me. Me. She thought of me, not herself.
So, last week, when I was awakened in the night by her voice calling my name, it was such a shock that my mind forgot for the tiniest of moments that it couldn’t be real. That it was a memory. Loud and strong, but still a memory.
“Judy!” It was her voice, like when I was a child. There was nothing in it to give a clue as to what she wanted. Just my name. The one she called me when I was little, not the one I insisted being called when I grew up.
It was so real I threw back the covers and started to get out of bed. Then I stopped myself. If I had gone to her empty room, it would have hurt even more, so I pulled the covers up and laid there. And cried. I wanted with all my heart for the voice to have been real.
But she’s gone. Truly gone. Forever-Amen gone.
I wish I knew why I heard her that night. Why my mind conjured up her voice at that particular time. Was there something she left unsaid, something I could have answered for her?
But I can’t ask her. All I can do is remember her. And cry. As I am doing now.