To say I have a vivid dream life would literally be putting it mildly. Not only is it vivid, but solutions to complex problems – lessons which I have repeatedly failed to learn – are found there instead of … here.
For years, I wrestled with my mother’s death, and the consequences of those battles were disastrous. To document those battles here would be cumbersome, but those I battled through my dreams – although challenging – are far easier to put to ink.
Simply put, I refused to let my mother die. I continually pulled variations of themes that would bring her to life, and they failed every time. The most popular theme, of course, was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The things I could do with that theme … infinite … and it continued to blossom, as I rearranged and reconfigured my mother in a myriad of ways – most of them gruesome representations of who she had been and what I was doing with who she had been.
She was not happy and admonished me repeatedly about my futile attempts to revive her.
The endless surgeries, she said, had manifested hideously on the temporal plane. But still, I would not relent. I created variations and more variations.
It was with immense relief when I finally borrowed a theme from a nursery rhyme and through which that puzzle was finally solved and shelved. It was over. I was done. I passed the lesson after repeatedly failing to do so.
We sat (my mother and I) in a pristine laboratory made of stainless steel. I had never been in a more sterile environment. Not a spec of dust lay on the floor. And there I was, ready with my scalpel, to perform yet another incision into a rapidly decaying fantasy, attempting to reach a satisfactory healing of my psyche, where my mother lay.
The table on which I wanted to put her – also made of stainless steel – remained empty. I searched the laboratory, but there was nothing to find there, no further illusions to spread, consume, yet strangely, it was not hunger that I felt, but the scent of a resolution in my midst.
She refused, of course, to lay on the table, and walked me round the room until she finally was beyond my reach, sitting on the highest shelf, inches from the ceiling, looking down at me. And that’s where the lesson began and ended, as she brutally killed my fantasy, and lulled me to sleep with a child’s nursery rhyme.
Oh. I get it.
Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall … Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall … And all the King’s Horses and all the King’s couldn’t put Humpty-Dumpty together again.
Now once again my mother makes her customary return to teach me yet another lesson, which I must learn. But this time I am totally baffled by it.
… Something about a living arrangement, coupled with lack of sleep, is a dangerous formula for me …
I had to be by the sea, I told her, which I currently am, and a miasma of vague emotions flooded me. I was headed for the sea, I told her, and she looked at me sternly and said to me …
Do you have any idea how many times we’ve pulled you from the sea?
But I don’t recall swimming in the sea before the age of sixteen, I said to her, as I pulled whatever memories of the sea I had as a child, although in later years I knew I had been retrieved repeatedly – much to my annoyance.
You mean to tell me that was you?