Lost and Found…and Lost
She was lost to me. For so many years, I’d not seen nor felt her. But, last night, in the wonderland of sleep — I found her.
She’d been away, taken to a convent in Italy when I was sixteen years old. She didn’t die! It had been my imagination. The reason for her departure was not provided and was not sought.
My daughter and I had planned to go shopping and I was fearful she would be disappointed when she learned things had changed. She was not. We traveled a long road, in a land I did not recognize, to go see her after hearing where she could be found.
She had other visitors, all excited for a reunion with her. But, it was me she embraced with thirty years of agonizing loss. She met my daughter. We sat. We talked.
My brain provided a crystal clear movie while I slept and I felt her in my soul so deeply, it was as if I never lost her at all. The regret that my own children never knew her was gone.
Many years ago, I read these types of experiences are “visits” from ones we’ve lost — those dreams that feel as if the person is sitting right next to you. When daylight arrives, it recreates the original loss as fresh as if it happened yesterday. The gut-wrenching pain, the sorrow, and the longing for what can never be replaced — all of it raw once again.
Since her death, I’ve had two other such dreams. The first one, she was making me Cheerios and orange juice for breakfast. It was so many years ago and I can barely remember it, but it’s the first time in my life I remember waking myself up crying.
The second one, however, I remember vividly.
She held my hand as I sat next to her bed and told me she knew I’d spent time in prison, and that it was time for me to be free. Again, waking myself up sobbing, it took days to crawl back from my grief. But that dream gave me a gift I’d wanted for so long — to know that she understood what had happened to me, what it cost me, and she thought I deserved everything I’d become. It was her telling me she was proud of me, and to release myself from the darkness of guilt and shame that had shadowed my life since I was five years old.
Whether these dreams are “visits” or simply neurons firing in a specific sequence — it doesn’t matter.
It could be said that the existence of such an encounter is cruel. Being granted the chance to feel and love someone after they’ve been taken from us can be considered a blessing. But the anguish of renewed loss is the price that must be paid.
Last night’s dream allowed me to see her meet my daughter. It allowed me to hold her — to feel her physically in my arms. I absorbed her love for me and my entire chest ached with it. For however long I slept, I was a daughter again. I had a mother.
When my phone rang at 2:36 am, I was yanked back into reality. Fighting tears, I tried to hear details about the new patient being admitted to the hospital. But, I couldn’t help but think…..I no longer had a mother. I was no longer a daughter. My own children no longer had a grandmother.
I’d lost her again and I knew the day would be filled with sorrow and longing for something I can never have.
But, the love I received during that dream cannot be described and if I have to go through losing her a thousand times to be able to find it again — I would do so without hesitation.