The house is the same one my grandparents retired to after they had spent a lifetime farming. In real life, that house is in a little neighborhood. In my dream, it stands alone. When I dream of my city, I seldom get a chance to go visit that house. Often when I find myself on the road, I get distracted at the airport and end up going flying. Occasionally I'll remember that I really want to go visit the house, and I'll float on past the airport, running with glee to the house.
When I get there, it is always a delight. Because when I open the door and step inside, the interior is identical to the old farmhouse where my grandparents lived. Opa is in his chair by the stairs, Nana in a chair next to him, the other room filled with relatives I never knew because they died before I was born. After my aunt Bobbi died, she appeared there, always sitting on the couch with various critters she loved. Mandy, Muffin, Tuck and others.
Last year on this night when I walked in they were all smiling brightly. I stood in the entry room, and waved. I seldom get to chat with anyone. Most of the time it's just a wave and a smile and I wake up. On this night I didn't. After I waved, two men came in with another big, plush chair and set it beside Nana's chair. I furrowed my brow and wondered what that was there for.
I looked over at Bobbi with a question.
"Just getting ready." She said. And my heart hurt to hear her voice again. "It's almost time."
Around this time last year I awoke to my sister gently shaking me awake. The nurses had been in to re-adjust Mom, and Steph thought her breathing sounded weird. I rose quickly and went in to look. Mom's breathing was not right. We agreed that it would probably be a good idea to wake Dad. He stumbled over and took Mom's hand. I held her other, and was trying to feel a pulse. I was waiting for her to take another breath. Her breathing, in medical terms, had been agonal. Not painful, just long, long breaks between breaths. I couldn't feel a pulse. I waited for another breath. As I waited the slow realization of what had just happened started to sink in. There wouldn't be another breath. Steph had silent tears. Dad looked stunned. Everything slowed down into one horrible moment of realization. Mom had died. I looked at the clock. 5:59 in the morning. I called down to the nurses station and asked them to come check her. Verify what I already knew. The nurse had a pink stethoscope. I borrowed it after she checked and listened for the familiar thump of a heartbeat. Strained to hear just one more. Waited.
Thus began a year of firsts.
First holidays without a mom. First birthday without a mom. First spring. First summer. First autumn and first start of winter. So many bittersweet firsts. So many thoughts of "Mom would have loved that". And now, in this early morning, a first year completed since my Mom died.
It has been a year of remembering a great many things she did for me. A year of trying to figure out how to be without a mom. A year of trying to help Dad find his way in this completely new world. A year of ups and downs, highs and lows, mostly good times but still lots of not so good times. A time to think that from now until my time comes, all I have left are memories, pictures, videos. And while it is nice seeing her in videos, I would do almost anything to hear her voice in real life again.
I am so thankful to still have Dad. I know he is grieving, and I know that I cannot know the depths of his grief. But he knows mine. Almost exactly. He lost his Mom to renal failure when I was in boot camp for the Marines. He went through everything that I am now going through. Even though I knew then that he was grieving the loss of his mom, I couldn't fully understand it until last year at this time. Now I recall how he has lived his life since then and I am thankful for such an amazing role model for these days.
Last year on the 26th of December, I heard my mom say her final words to me. At this time last year, she was gone.
I miss my mom.