A constant through the progression of this illness has been my mom dreams. I have very vivid, very real dreams about my mom, and in my dreams she’s never sick. We do things together like take a ride in the car or go to the grocery store. Sometimes we are planning some dinner or a holiday is coming up we are trying to make a to do list. Sometimes we are trying to plan how to meet up with Joey. Just normal stuff you do with your parents.
Sometimes I’m a kid in the dreams. Sometimes I’m an adult. My mom always seems to be about the same age regardless of how I show up. She’s beautiful and shiny and I can hear her voice very clearly. I can recognize her Appalachian twang as she says my name. I can hear her calling to me when I’m in another dream room to ask what I’m doing. I can hear her laughing. All of it is still in there. All of it still in my head when I dream.
I was scared for a while it would disappear. She was either forgetting or not willing to talk about things that had happened in the past. I was so worried I would only remember our struggle, our anger and our frustration as we were trying to cope with Alzheimer’s. Our lives seemed busted up and cracked into a million pieces. And it felt as if the despair of the time was going to seep in and fill each and every one of those cracks till there wasn’t any room for the past. We’d be forced to forget the good stuff because the past and the present could not coexist and us stay sane.
So on one long car trip when my brother and I were driving the 3 1/2 hours to see my mom in her first nursing home, we talked about it. I told my brother I was scared of forgetting the good memories of mom. I was afraid I’d remember what it was like when we were growing up and only be left with the slow progression and the loss. My brother and I agreed that we wouldn’t let that happen. We agreed that we would tell each other the same stories over and over. We’d look at pictures. We’d help each other remember. The idea of this blog was born that day, but took time to evolve.
I also think my really vivid mom dreams started that day. My brain wanted to make little movies so I can remember more than a story or a picture. I could see mental video clips of the person I remember and keep her alive when I need her to give me perspective.
And most recently my mom has been telling me advice in my dreams. It’s advice on things I’ve been wrestling with inside. Some of it is about things I’ve agonized about internally without a clear idea of what to do. Sometimes it’s advising me on things I know but need a push to do. In my dreams lately, she is there and gives empathy, listens, and validates that my decision is the right one.
I guess one way to look at it is that I have two moms. One mom I visit, we take drives, sing songs and drink milkshakes. The other mom shows up predictable, recognizable, listens, and gives me support and advice when I need it. Job sharing moms. We are a very progressive family.