I have been miserable this past week. Absolutely miserable. Cranky and achy. This winter sucks.
But! Every night has been wonderful! I’ve gone to bed early,
drifted off to sleep easily.
And dreamed vivid dreams.
All my dreams have been set in the same long, wood-framed, white-washed corridor. Leaflets and schedules flutter on the wall to my right. Wood benches line it. The other side? No benches. No wall. A void. Like a train station: this is a waiting place.
Since Monday, each night, I’ve returned to that same dream site, like returning to a theatrical set. People mill about. Mostly strangers. Sometimes, someone I know appears. Last night, it was the young couple whose cat we’re taking care of for a week. Then more strangers. A couple clowns. A sideshow talker. And each night, at one point or another, my mother has appeared. Everything stills, and we chat.
Anyone who has read my last few entries knows I’m mourning my mother’s death. I really feel like I should be done with this. She’s been gone for more than a year. And yet I’m not done. It’s as if she just passed.
I wonder if others who suffered the death of loved-ones during the pandemic lockdown feel the same way? Loss during lockdown for me was entirely mediated. There was no authentic passing – all was viewed through a frame. One day I was talking to her on Zoom, the next, leafing through photos for her obituary.
So it’s as if she never left. As if somewhere, the original for all my photos is still here. Memory has become actuality, merged with dreaming. Each time I realize I can no longer call her, I experience the shock of her death once again.
In my dreams this past week, she always looked like the Katie in this photo:
During my lifetime, I never saw her look this relaxed. Katie’s about 22 years old here. Judging by the ring on her finger, she’s engaged to my father. She has a full-time job. She’s planning on paying the bills while he finishes college. And she did. At the time of this photo, Katie and Myron were probably already looking for their first apartment in Lakewood. Yes, that’s a Last Will and Testament hanging on the wall. I think Ann and Katie worked at a law firm. Mom went to an all-girls Catholic secretarial high school. Her dream was to get a job like this. More than once, she told me how much she enjoyed being a working girl.
At my dream station, she’s wearing her nicest suit. She has all the money and time in the world and only one bag, but that’s all that she needs. She’s headed for all the places she always dreamed of seeing. Ireland first, I’m sure. She always wanted to see Ireland.
So, she catches my attention and we sit for a minute or two. She’d like me to come along. I tell her I’d rather not.
“It doesn’t matter, one way or the other. You’ll live on in dreams,” Mom said to me. “As long as there’s someone to remember you.”
“Don’t forget I’m writing about my ancestors,” I replied. “The forgotten ones. I’m not done with the Gorzynskis yet. I still have to get to the Thompsons.”
Her gaze suddenly stilled by a lifetime’s worth of wisdom, she nodded a familiar nod.
“Keep writing, Babe,” she said. “Keep writing.”
2 thoughts on “Loss During Lockdown”
I always knew you were a talented writer. Your 3 minute read spoke volumes. You always pushed me to be a better writer. And for that I am sincerely grateful. I look forward to reading more of your beautiful stories. Thank you so much for sharing. Please never stop sharing.
Thank you, Jeanette! I appreciate these words. Hearing from my students who have entered their field and done well is always a treat!