August 18, 2010

When my mother died, I wasn’t there. I was eight hundred miles away with my family in New Hampshire. Mom had been ailing, and I debated making the trip to see her; but she rallied, and I decided to stay put.

Then, she died. Peacefully, in her sleep. I was the only one of the five siblings who hadn’t gone to see her.

I drove to Michigan with three of our four kids. I can’t remember much. Just some details of our time there: Family frictions. The tragicomedy that is the “viewing.” And, of course, the funeral, where every one of my siblings and my dad said they heard Mom singing along to the doxology. I hadn’t heard a thing.

I had let my mother down. I hadn’t had a goodbye. We had left things unsaid. I should have made more of an effort. I couldn’t shake my feelings of negligent failure. Woulda, coulda, shoulda…

One night, about a year later, I had a dream. I walked up the steps and opened the screen door to a porch—a composite dream space made from my childhood and my history. On a chaise lounge, with her back to me, was the reclining form of my eldest daughter. But, as she turned to face me, she became my mother. I went to her.

“Mom, what are you doing here? I thought you were in Heaven.”

“Oh… I was. I got bored.”

“But isn’t Jesus there? Don’t you get to sing and stuff?”

“Yes, yes… singing… always singing… ::sigh::.” Her eyes lit up. “Do you want me to sing a song for you?”

God, no. My mother had always had a singing voice like a cat in heat. Even as a kid, I didn’t want her to sing to me. I was pretty sure the magic of heaven hadn’t turn her voice angelic.

“Oh… no. No thanks, mom. That’s okay.”

“Alright then. Well… I love you, Sarah.”

“Hey, I love you too, Mom.” I patted her hand.

I woke up smiling.

A nice thing… the ofttimes vital and intricate work of dreams.


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7 Responses to “Singing”

  1. Lisa Kern said

    Well now I’m all teary and stuff. You always know how to bring out the emotion, Sarah. That’s why I really appreciate these “nice things.”

  2. Know what I love most about your writing? No candy-coating. I believe you. Anti-chicken-soup-anecdotes.

    Thank you for that. This is fabulous.

  3. Mary-Ellen said

    When i moved to CA, I said bye to mom knowing it might be the last time, but hoping to get back to see her. Alas, I did not. I also had a dream that provided the goodbye I needed. And more and more, when i look in the mirror, it is my mom staring back at me.

  4. Annie said

    I am a big fan of those kinds of dreams. xoxo

  5. iamsurly said

    Your mom and I have the same singing voice. Awesome.

  6. Dale said

    Sounds like Mom was a bit fed up with all that singing. She was probably relieved you didn’t ask her to.

  7. Laura said

    Sarah, I loved this. Lorraine nailed it on the head: believable, real and pure.

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