A Break in Houston

I am in Houston — first time in four years. I haven’t visited Houston frequently since college. Yet, every visit I had has reminded me, without fail, one particular visit I had thirteen years ago.

It was March 20th, thirteen years ago today.

I used my spring break to visit my mom. She was at the end stage of her cancer. A couple of days after I arrived, she fell into a coma from which she never woke up.

To help cope with my loss in the ensuing months, I wrote a few poems. I was reminded of one of them today.

TWO

You visited me last night
not suffering this time
healthy, vibrant
just as I remembered

You smiled at the family
portrait framed firmly
sitting on the nightstand
The three of us, complete

But, I forgot to ask
“Do you ever dream of me?”
before you left
again

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10 Responses to A Break in Houston

  1. Daniel says:

    I have lost both of my parents. (Ironically, my mother died on April 20.) In your poem, you asked, “Do you dream of me?” I believe she does, just as you dream of her, not suffering, healthy and vibrant. We don’t have any idea what is on the other side, but I do believe the departed are indelibly parts of us, and if/when we do dream of them or are visited by them, we often see them not suffering. We see them as alive in one sense, I suppose. Your blog reminds me of a poem, which you may find comforting, or at least relevant:

    Peachstone

    I do not visit his grave. He is not there
    Out of hearing, out of reach. I miss him here,
    seeing hair grease at the back of a chair
    near a firegrate where his spit sizzled,
    or noting in a cut-glass bowl, a peach.

    For that night his wife brought him a peach,
    his favourite fruit, where the sick light glowed,
    and his slack, dry mouth sucked, sucked, sucked,
    with dying eyes closed – perhaps for her sake -
    till bright as blood the peachstone showed.

    • everysixminutes says:

      I am sorry for your losses, Daniel.

      It is interesting you say that when we dream of the departed, they often appear to be alive and healthy. I have dreams in which my mother was sick and dying. However, I don’t interact with her in these dreams. I relive the experience in these dreams and often feel relieved when I wake up. The dreams in which I interact with my mother, she appears normal, but not aged, just like I remembered her when she was healthy. These dreams tend to be more upsetting…

      Thanks for sharing the Peachstone poem. It is poignant. The last bit of image of this hollowed dying man sucking the peach is haunting.

      • Daniel says:

        Hi Jennifer,

        Thanks for your words. I don’t think I mentioned earlier that I am sorry that you lost your mother. It sucks. I’m not trying to be flippant or offer a platitude, it’s just the most poignant way of putting it, sometimes.

        Interestingly, dreams in which my parents appear are very similar to those which you mentioned. Sometimes they’re very healthy, in their places before their illnesses came. But in some other dreams, I can neither see nor hear them, yet they’re still in the dreams. Those upset me more; not sure whether it’s out of emptiness, frustration that I can’t communicate with them in the dream, or a combination of both.

        Peachstone is one of my favorite poems; it paints such a vivid picture apropos of this subject.

  2. Daniel says:

    Sorry – should read “He is not there.” (Forgot the period.) but it isn’t as though I’m anal or anything…

  3. I HAVE CAT says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your Mother at such a young age Jennifer. The poem is beautiful.

  4. nty says:

    Jennifer – I am sorry to hear that you have lost your mother. I agree with I HAVE A CAT, the poem is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. JP says:

    I did the “let’s die from cancer at Thanksgiving” with my mother during my Junior year of college. Terminally ill parents always seem to wait to die until you get home on break. I wasn’t adjusting well to the college experience, and that just made the entire college adventure worse (I bailed myself out with a high LSAT score). My wife blames TMI for this cancer.

    On the other hand, my father had his debilitating stroke while I was at home from law school in my 1L summer, but that had to do more with him not talking care of his health. Ten years and another wife later, and he’s just come out of the ICU (again). At the moment, he’s not my problem. I did the first five post-stroke years. My sisters can have the fun now.

    And I’m always going to assert that the dead are quite capable of talking to us in our dreams. I had this discussion with one-time step sister regarding her beloved aunt. It was the first time I had ever heard of that phenomenon. But, I never dream of my mother.

    If you like “What Dreams May Come”, then you can also argue that people are always 30 in the so-called Summerlands.

    And it continues to be my assertion that death is a transition.

  6. kng says:

    How are you feeling after your Houton visit?

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