Twenty or so years ago, I ran into my mother outside a small newsstand in downtown San Rafael. It was a pleasant surprise, and we had a short, happy conversation then went our separate ways. I think it’s that fond memory that brings me back to that particular place when I dream of meeting my mother again.
I’m not a superstitious or credulous sort of person – I know that who I see in that recurring dream is not actually my mother, or her spirit. I know it’s all just a construct of my sleeping mind. Nevertheless, my heart leaps each time when I see her, and for a short time we talk excitedly - as if our years apart had been some sort of mistake, now happily rectified. Then inevitably, the key bit of reality fights its way in. As I begin to tell my mother that she’s dead, she runs away before the “D” word has been spoken, seemingly fearful of some harm the cold truth could do her. Afterward, I feel strangely guilty - as if I had blithely mentioned a friend’s divorce only to watch him break down in tears.
That dream is rare now, fifteen years after my mother’s death from cancer. The desire behind the dream – to see my mother again, to tell her about her wonderful grandchildren – that doesn’t fade. If only she could meet them once! Just once! To meet Joey, the boy I named after her beloved brother, in her honor. To watch Tommy yell “Cannon-Ball!” as he jumps into the pool off a rock, grinning the way only a two-year-old can. One kiss. One hug. One bedtime story. One anything!
No. I sprinkled my mother’s ashes in Tomales Bay in 1997. No kisses. No hugs. Wake up now, Anthony.
One is the number closest to zero, but zero and only zero is the number that my Mother and I get - I suppose I'm working that out, a dream at a time.