Monday, September 22, 2014
I forget my dreams a lot these days. They are wisps on waking, and I wake often, checking on my son or being checked on by a cat or two. The cats think the wee hours of the morning are surely dinnertime. Paw to the nose. Gentle push of breakable and noisy things onto the floor, or my head.
Changes in Gabe’s breathing wake me as well. I check the oxygen, the lines, the machine.
The other night Gabe was wide eyed, moving his sleep mask away. “What’s up?” I asked him. “Want water, need new pants?” I ran the mom litany. Gabe’s nonverbal mostly. I need to watch closely, guess wisely, have patience.
His eyes were wide. Anxiety. Holding my gaze he put his arms up. Hands up, don’t shoot. He then fell back, pointing to the imagined wounds in his side, very dramatically dead. And then opened his eyes. Hands up. No shoot.
Well, I hugged him changed his pants, got him water and a snack, hugged him again, adjusted the machines and kept the light on a while. At last he settled back to sleep.
I try not to let him watch the news, but with obsessed parents, well, things slip through. And news like Ferguson or Gaza or death anywhere goes straight to Gabe’s heart. And he seems to think we can make it better. And I think he must dream of these things sometimes, and I wonder what he thinks, really. And what can I say?
I wonder what other parents do. Dear god, I wonder what black parents across the country said to their kids after Ferguson, or any number of other events. What parents say in Gaza or…well, anywhere. We’re relatively safe and privileged. I take the easy route with Gabe, hugs, sustenance, maybe a book, a diversion, a favorite toy. The physical connection. It’s been our main language since I first carried him. I wait for his smiles, his glances full of mischief, his acts of small and knowing rebellion. I love it when he laughs. He never cries, he just sort of shuts down, goes away to some dream where I can’t follow, and I hope all is good there.
His dad dreams of strange cities. I know this because we often share dreams come morning. My dream wisps vanish, except…lately, I too was searching for something. I knew my key was fragile. My daughter was there, but going away.
I think of dreams a lot these days. My stepmother is sleeping a great deal, the result of stage 4 cancer. My sister sends me messages about the pancake she cooked for her mother, and how it was eaten (the first thing in a while). About the silver bangles. On my sister’s wrist now; they always jangled gently when my stepmother moved. I wonder what my stepmother dreams, in these longer and longer naps, in this moving away from us. When my father was dying he returned in his dreams to the planes he loved to fly, he was flying. I remember still his brown eyes fixed on mine, trustingly, as we breathed together, as I held him in my arms, as one breath followed another and then, then I was breathing alone.
The more I know, the less I know. Only a breath. A hug in the night. Maybe happy dreams to replace all the pain, all the churning impossible news. Maybe only love. Maybe only silly cats, and friends, and strangers, and the dawn, all over our breaking world. Maybe only love.
We’ll hold it together. Somehow.