I shoot up from my bed, gasping for air, and when I finally come to realize I was just having a dream. As I try to control my breathing and calm myself down, I reach for my phone to check the time. It’s 2:45 AM. As I lay back down and I try to get that nightmare out of my head, my stomach is in a knot. That “nightmare” was with my mom.
Dreams. We all have them. Some dreams are pleasant, and some dreams are considered nightmares. It wasn’t long after my mom passed away that she started to appear in my dreams. I can’t recall if the dreams, in the beginning, were pleasant or not. As I've said before, the months after my mom passed away the memories can be kind of blurry at times. What I can recall are the dreams that I've have had with her lately. Some dreams that I’ve had with her can actually be quite disturbing at times. Let me explain.
For starters, the majority of my dreams with my mom in them, her image and appearance are how she looked during her last couple of months that she was alive. She appears very thin and fragile, and she can't walk. My mom had a walker during her final months. Those dreams were she appears to be sick are the ones that I would consider nightmares. And, by nightmares, I typically wake up in cold sweats, sometimes crying, and it can be hard to fall back asleep.
In my “nightmare” dreams, I’m always unable to help my mom out in whatever situation we are put in. In one dream that I can recall quite well with my mom, the setting was at a restaurant that we used to grab dinner together. In the dream, we were just having a typical dinner, talking and laughing when all of a sudden, her chair broke. She fell to the ground, and I quickly got up from my chair to pick her up. When I tried to pick her up, I just couldn’t. I was giving it my all using as much strength and effect as possible, but I still couldn’t manage to pick her up. I remember crying, screaming, and yelling in my dream for someone to help me, to help me pick my mom up from the ground. This is where I would typically wake up from this nightmare with a knot in my stomach and my heartbeat racing at 10,000 miles a minute.
Those nightmares leave me with the most uneasy feeling when I wake up. I’m not saying that I don’t have pleasant dreams with my mom, but these nightmares were I find myself trying to help my mom and can’t succeed actually happen quite frequently.
I think I’m dealing with the fact that I wasn’t able to help my mom like I wanted to when she was sick. It’s the biggest heartbreaker and hardest thing to witness when you see someone you love so much go through so pain, and you’re not able to do anything. During the last few months that my mom was still here with me, I felt helpless, and I still think to this day, this is something that I struggle with.
As a daughter, I've always felt the need to be the caretaker and helper for my mom. Because throughout my life with her, she was my helper no matter what was thrown our way. I’m not sure if maybe one day I’ll stop having these nightmares. I’m not sure if one day I can accept the fact there was nothing more I could have done to help my mom during her last few months before she passed. But, I am working on it, and if it’s one thing I’ve come to realize with grief, there is no timeline for healing.