Today was very quiet. It’s one of those days where I annoy myself – there’s a lot I COULD be doing, but I can’t seem to rouse myself out of a semi state of being. Oh well, I guess every now and again your brain needs down time.
I think part of the reason I’ve been kind of lethargic is a really horrible dream I had last night. The grief I felt while I was sleeping has stayed with me all day.
I won’t go into specifics, even though every aspect of it is as clear to me now as it was when I was sleeping. I dreamt that I was going to die. Not only that, someone (or something, it wasn’t clear) was going to take my life because of a decision I had made (a decision to do with travelling to South America). The worst part of the dream was saying goodbye to my father knowing I would never see him again. At the end of the dream I came to the realisation that I wanted to live. I said it aloud to Dad – I want to live. Then I said the same thing to Mum. Then I woke up, only with a feeling of knowing my death was inevitable and there was nothing I could do to avoid it.
Part of the grief I was feeling when I woke up this morning is the same emotion I felt when I said goodbye to Nan. That was a traumatic experience, and the fact that it happened almost the second I got off the plane from South America is probably no small part of why this dream transpired the way it did.
Leaving Wagga that day was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I had been sitting by her bed for 2 days solid, and I had been watching my mother care for her mother like some sort of saint. The woman in front of me was a shadow of her former self physically, but her eyes were burning as strong as they’d ever done. The thing that absolutely slayed me was the will to live in those eyes – she loved life and she was hanging on to every second of it. She was an amazingly strong woman, and she could feel her life ebbing away and it terrified her. In those two days we spoke about the most inane things – my trip, the weather, my brother and sisters and my cousins, her dog, her house – just every day stuff of no real consequence. She was in massive amounts of pain and her breathing was very laboured, but she was still mentally sharp as a tack.
While we were speaking about this stuff I wanted to ask her so badly what it felt like to be dying. What had life amounted to for her? It’s only at a persons death can you accurately understand the full meaning of their life. There was so much I wanted to tell her about the person she was to me and the person I had become because of her, but I was worried that nothing I said would be enough.
The morning I had to leave I was sitting by the bed holding her hand. She had been more or less unconscious all morning because she was really struggling to breathe. The time on the clock was ticking by and the time to my flight was getting closer and closer. Just as I was about to leave she opened her eyes. I was crying but I said hi and she smiled and said hi back. Then she said (and I remember this so vividly) –
‘Are you leaving?’
‘Yeah I am. I have to catch my flight home.’
‘Thank you for coming. It was so wonderful to see you.’
At this point I my breath was coming in gasps because I was trying desperately hard not to start sobbing. I said to her, trying to smile –
‘I think you are so brave. I have no idea how you’re being so brave.’
‘I don’t feel very brave.’
‘You’re one of the strongest people I know.’
‘You beautiful girl. I need you to tell Tara how much I love her.’
‘I will tell her.’
‘And stop crying.’
‘I can’t help it.’
‘I won’t see you again.’
‘You need to promise me something.’
‘Anything. I’ll promise you anything.’
‘No more crying for you. Only happiness for you from now on.’
At this point I nearly lost it and descended into a whole lot of I love you and goodbye. Then I went out into the back yard and howled like a baby.
I’ve been a bit cowardly when it comes to thinking about all of this. I don’t do it often, and when I do I stop it short because I feel myself getting upset. In writing this my eyes have become swollen and red, my nose is running and my head is pounding, but for the first time all day I feel clear in my mind.
Damn subconscious. It will always find a way of making you deal with shit that needs to be dealt with.