The Dreamer Dreams of Dreaming
He was at an age now where he dressed neatly, and his salt an pepper hair made him look a little distinguished as he walked through the house. It was a house full of memories of happier times, when the house was full of life and people, but now it was just quiet. Quiet except for his footsteps on the polished floorboards.
He looked out of the window at the rear of the house, over the garden that was still largely as it had always been, and it seemed to enhance the feeling of being in a bubble in time. A bubble that may rupture at any time and things would go back to the way they were. But he knew that wasn’t possible.
He sat and looked out, the bird feeders were half full, a ritual that had been kept going ‘just in case’, for so long. But sometimes miracles don’t happen, and the place was empty.
As he sat he felt the weight of the situation, an era coming to a close and it didn’t feel wrong or right, it just felt a little empty.
He felt the relaxation that comes with watching the birds feed. That area of life that we facilitate, but cannot direct. In true life fashion you can only encourage, and entice. There is no way to force the birds to come to your garden to feed, and put on their show and make you feel part of the natural world.
He didn’t notice his eyes close, as the birds fed. They were probably screeching at one another but he couldn’t hear it through the closed double glazed windows that separated him from the outside. And the silence and peace closed in around him and let him slip in to that other place without effort or artifice.
As he slept, an observer in the room would have seen his eyes start to move as the rapid eye movement or REM sleep started the dreaming.
He walked in to her room, book in hand, the old lady who was his mother was laying in the bed asleep as was usual now. Dementure had taken her from the family long ago and she didn’t know them now, she had delusions and hallucinations that they couldn’t comprehend.
He stroked her silver hair gently as she slept, gently held her hand for a moment and then sat himself on the blue plastic covered seat by the bed.
He noticed the tenacious pulse beating in her neck, strong and sure keeping her alive in spite of all her other failing bodily systems. He smiled and started to read his book. The late afternoon sunlight lit up the room bathing the old lady in golden light as she slept. He read quietly to himself. He looked up occasionally, just to check, but she was unchanged, breathing gently, and calm, unworried features on her face. You might say she looked serene.
Just being there when he could manage it was all he could do now. When she was awake she would look at him without recognition as if he was a malevolent stranger. “Bugger off you” she would say, still defiant, but so confused and part of a reality that he had no clues about.
The temperature in the room raised imperceptibly from the rays of the sun’s energy and the humming of the air blown mattress that prevented bed sores made it hard to stay awake and as he read the book his eyelids became heavy. He kept losing track of where he was on the page and finally his eyes closed and his head dropped on to his chest and he relaxed in to an unbidden sleep.
“I’ve been waiting for you” said the woman at the other side of the bed.
He looked up and saw a vision bathed in sunlight.
He looked down at the bed which was empty and then returned his gaze to the woman opposite. Not young, but certainly not old, she looked familiar. As he got used to her being there, she smiled and said “Is the penny dropping yet?” She started walking around the bed and as she looked down the bed faded away before his eyes.
The light that he assumed was sunlight was following her. No, it was coming from her, it was shining out of her and her smile radiated love. All of a sudden he felt like a small boy again and he recognised her “Mum?” he asked tentatively.
She laughed like a stream in the mountains in summer: “Yes! It’s me”
“But…” he was about to ask a thousand questions that had suddenly piled up in his mind.
She raised a finger to her pursed lips “Shhh!” she said gently, “No time for questions, and in any case the answers probably wouldn’t help.”
“You look so young, so beautiful, so vibrant and well”
“It’s how I want to be” she replied, it was as if she granted the one answer. And with it she saw the realisation on his face as the penny dropped.
“Oh!” he said quietly “So this is it?”
“Yes, it’s time. And it feels so joyous”
He smiled at his mum, and gazed in to the eyes and was overcome for a moment. She hadn’t known him for such a long time and to see that recognition now, in the way that it always used to be…
His thoughts trailed off as he took in her radiance.
She looked to the window, that was now a shimmering veil that emanated peace and light. He walked towards it with her and stood on the threshold, she put out a hand and stopped him.
“Not you”, she said, “Not yet”.
He started to speak but the words wouldn’t come, all he managed was an open mouthed “Er”, where he wanted to tell her how much he loved her and wanted to thank her for everything and wish her well and so many other things.
“It’s alright. I know” she replied to all that was unspoken.
He looked in to her eyes and he knew that she really did know. He felt a waft of love and kindness as she crossed the threshold, through the veil.
And he knew it was as it should be.
He was lost in reverie as the light of the veil faded. He felt himself floating, weightless, as he looked around, slightly lost in the room.
In the distance he could hear the sound of a phone ringing, but he didn’t care, he loved this feeling. The phone started again, it seemed more persistent, if that’s a quality that a phone can have. The sound tugged him roughly from bliss back in to life.
He awoke and awoke and the birds were feeding still, he answered the phone.
It was the nursing home.
The tears came before they told him that his mother had died.
“Thanks for calling” he said.
A slight smile raised on his face amongst the salty tears that flowed freely.
He knew she was gone, but he knew that she was OK now.
And he knew that things were as they should be.