“We are such stuff As Dreams are made on” ~ William Shakespeare
Yesterday was the third anniversary of my mother’s passing. I remember the first anniversary of her death as a bittersweet celebration of her life, in which I sheltered like a hermit crab. The second year passed on a swell of faith and joy. But now the third year had ushered in a cold loneliness and the guilt of fading Grief.
Grief returned near the end of the second show of the day. I was standing on stage and looking up into the light when I realised that I couldn’t sing. I needed a sign that she was still with me in spirit. Not a sign born of self-delusion, but one that would bring me close to her again.
I phoned my ex-wife Liz in the break between the shows. Liz immediately told me that she had been sorting out her VHS cassette collection that afternoon, when she discovered a tape she had neglected to label. She put it on – to discover it was a tape of my mother I had left the last time Christina and I visited her.
“She looked so strong and healthy” said Liz.
I felt so much better, but I was unprepared for the second sign. I awoke suddenly at around three in the morning, in the middle of a vivid dream…
We were sitting in the back of a large limousine and speeding along a highway that rose and fell as if we were riding on a roller coaster, a ‘big dipper’ as she used to call them. Christina sat with me to my right and as I looked across at her and beyond, I could see a beautiful blue sky above the ocean and the sunlight sparkling like stars around her head.
“This is where I live” I said.
When we arrived at my home, which I did not recognise, I made her comfortable in a big house. But I knew that she would soon leave. Then I heard an urgent voice: “She’s going to die.”
I rushed to Christina’s bedside and cupped her head in my hands. Around me were women all weeping for my mother. I knew I could help her live and gradually I felt her heartbeat flutter and then begin to grow and travel up my arms until it became mine. Her eyes opened and they were beautiful. I could feel the joy all around me as I held all of her inexplicably in my hands. Then her gaze looked upward, and so I lifted her…
…until I was alone in the grey dawn above the granite city.
After breakfast I decided to have one last stroll through Aberdeen, before catching my flight home to Coventry. Maybe it was the sudden change in the weather that made me turn into the bookshop or maybe it was a gentle nudge, but I found myself reaching for a book that attracted me and looking at the preface.
“What if you slept, and what if in your sleep you dreamed, and what if in your dream you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower, and what if when you awoke you had the flower in your hand? Ah, what then?” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge
It was the third joy.