In My Dreams

I can’t believe the Big Cheese´s mom left this world behind a year ago, the day after Mother’s Day. Whenever we drive past her fancy, crenellated old co-op on Connecticut Avenue, the twins say, there’s Grammy’s Castle! They’re still waiting for her to not be dead any more; we have long funny/sad talks about it.

I actually chat with her fairly regularly in my dreams. In the last one she threw a party, and all her girlfriends and family members were there. Later I found her resting on her daybed, exhausted but happy, surrounded by grandkids and watching the show going on around her. You could tell she was really ill. Everyone knew it. They came to the party to be with her and say goodbye. I sat down next to her in my dream and held her face in my hands, and I said: Thank you for being you. Thank you for all the wonderful things you´ve given me. Thank you for lending me your son. And then I woke up.

I have these dreams all the time; I´m not complaining. My mind manages to create a scene, or even an entire day, in which the tone of our relationship is pitch-perfect. Recent examples: I decide to buy a trendy, moderately expensive handbag. She urges me to take that money and buy a classic bag instead. Or: we´re at a grocery store, and we´re all done shopping, and I go get the car, at which point I realize, double-parked and tying up traffic, that she´s gone back in for an avocado or something. A big, fat argument ensues. The end is always the same: I wake up and realize, phew – I didn´t really have that argument with her! And I´ll never have another one. And when do I start missing her a little less?

My guess is I´m supposed to resolve this with some Western-style therapy. But I´m longing for something else, you know? I have this dim idea that in other cultures there´d be talk of restless spirits needing appeasement. God knows she was restless; why would it be any different in the afterlife? I´m only a few blocks from her burial niche at our church. Maybe I should be taking her offerings (vodka martinis, potato chips.) Maybe she´s mad that I failed to talk the Big Cheese into putting that liter bottle of Popov in the vault with her. She´s tucked in next to her husband, but I think strewing her ashes along the miracle mile in Chevy Chase between Saks and Neiman Marcus would have been a completely legitimate alternative. In fact, if the developers over there have any sense, they´ll get busy and build a columbarium next to Cartier instead of that stupid pocket-park.

Don´t get me wrong — I don´t want these dreams to go away. They´re very, very funny, and they give me that warm feeling of actually having a conversation with her. But I wonder if I´m screwing something up. So far my plans for appeasement have included wearing her clothes and jewelry out more, sometimes to the sorts of places they´re used to frequenting. I had a night out in her Chanel black lace cocktail dress, which I realized was a) amazingly constructed, with beautiful interior boning to hold the strapless bodice up under the matching lace jacket where it´s supposed to be, and b) basically see-through, if you look at it the right way. I laughed and teased the Big Cheese – did you realize your mother went out in public dressed like this?!

My father still lives in the house I grew up in, right next door to the cemetery where we buried my mother 20 years ago, not long after Mother’s Day, and where all her kin are buried. I drop by and visit my mother when I´m over there every week. I´m not so dim that I can´t see that losing my mother-in-law was like losing my mother in some ways, but I don´t tell my mom that. I don´t want to hurt her feelings; who wants to hear that from their kid? Sitting there on the damp grass gives me a way to focus, to talk to her. It comforts me. She missed being there in person for my major life events. I stopped by her grave the day I married the Big Cheese and left her the flowers I’d carried to the altar. I´ve taken her Easter lilies, and birthday bouquets, and garland at Christmas, and flowers from the church after my babies were baptized. We fought all the time when I was a teenager and I said hateful things; raising me must have hurt like hell. I hope my daughters don´t treat me that way, but on some level I´d deserve it. It´s always great seeing my mother-in-law in my dreams, but I wish my mom stopped by more often to visit too. I really miss her.

While you’re reading this I’m trooping around England somewhere; I miss the blog too, no joke. I’ll see you next week.

  • Cheezwiz says:

    😡 Awww… what a touching post March. I had a lovely Mother’s day with my Mom, and as I get older, I think more often about how grief-stricken I will be when my parents leave the planet (I’m an only child).

    My Father firmly believes that when you have a dream about a loved one who has passed on, its not merely a dream – they are actually paying you a visit. Although he is in his sixties now, my Dad still has vivid dreams about his Grandfather (a real character) with whom he spent his boyhood summers.

    I had a happy dream a few months ago that I was reunited with the dog I had all through my growing up years. In the dream she had been running around in the bush, and she came running up to me covered in twigs and brambles. I was amazed to see her again, and she was sooo happy! grinning, wagging her whole back end and hopping and prancing about. I think she was visiting. I think your MIL was stopping by to say hello to you too.

    • Dusan says:

      Cheezwiz — you know, I’ve been holding back tears and swallowing the knot reading March’s lovely post and the comments of all these wonderful people. I am truly blessed to still have both my parents around, as well as my beloved peke Meda. (I’m not a single child though, I have a sister). But your comment smacked me right up on the chest… and made me cry. You see, Meda’ll be 12 this October. He’s still pretty much energetic and up for a good “throw me the ball” game, but he *is* a Grandpa in doggy terms, right? And that’s just killing me – I hope beyond hope that he’s around for many more years to come, but I know I won’t be able to cope when he is gone… I wish that he’ll come to my dreams just like your little one…
      Shit, this’ll teach me not to read this kind of posts anymore!

      • Cheezwiz says:

        Something about our beloved critters can really bring out our emotions no? (Not that I’m trying to equate pets with the loss of our human loved-ones)

        I’m sure you will have LOTS more time with your little peke pal, Dusan! My dog was with me from the day she arrived (we were both two at the time) until I was about fifteen. She was a sweet golden retriever mix, and I treasure my growing up time with her. 🙂

        • March says:

          I think that’s a great way to think of it — she’s just paying me a visit because she enjoys the company. Actually, today I visited the Costume Museum in Bath, which was just amazing (along with the Roman baths and the Georgian architecture) and I kept thinking how much she would have loved it.

        • Dusan says:

          Ah, that’s so sweet – to have a dog who’s your peer!\:d/
          Thank you for the reassuring note, Cheez, I guess I was in a soppy mood. Hugs!

      • March says:

        Dusan — I lost my first love-dog when the girls were small. I grieved, hard, for months. I still mourn his loss. No, I won’t equate it with a person, but damn, he was just an amazing dog. He was always happy to see me, you know? That’s worth something.

        • Dusan says:

          Yes, they do always wag their tails and yelp. OK, I’ll stop grieving in advance. Thanks for understanding me though. xoxo

  • Gina says:

    Thank you for that, March, truly. My dad passed away two years ago, I’m always talking to him, he’s in many of my dreams,and his voice is often in my head. Can’t imagine losing my mom, though I was a s**thead sometimes as a teenager. It pains me greatly to think this will happen someday, I tell her I love her as often as I can.

    Anyway, again – thank you.

    Is it your birthday? Happy birthday.

    • March says:

      Thanks — nope, not my birthday — Elle’s? It’s up there in the comments somewhere … sorry, this computer’s all wonky. As the brits say…

  • Bryan says:

    Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into your world, your soul. All those around you are blessed. I am moved and I think I shall go give my mom a kiss. Every day is Mother’s Day.

  • minette says:

    hope you’re loving london – i look forward to hearing about your adventures. that was a wonderful, loving post. i’m still sniffing. i’m glad your m-i-l visits you in your dreams. there is comfort in that. and maybe reassurance that it really doesn’t end at the death of the body. xxx, m

  • tmp00 says:

    Beautiful, March. Really beautifully put.

    • March says:

      thanks, T — I promise, no more maudlin posts — the next one will be Everything’s Smelly in London with Lee!!!;)

      • pitbull friend says:

        Cool. But, March, please do get Lee to show up unperfumed at first so you can sniff him & report back whether he really does smell like graham crackers! ;>) –Ellen

        • Maria B. says:

          Ellen, I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but your feats of memory continually astound me.

        • March says:

          Wait — Lee smells like graham crackers?!?

          Okay, making a note of it to check.

  • Your MIL sounds like a wonderful lady. And my heart goes out to you and “The Big Cheese”. Sensible wonderful mothers wait until after Mothers’ Day when they have that final trip home to take. It is a special grace that you don’t have to remember Mothers’ Day itself as a day of loss, and can instead remember and celebrate what was and always will be. After 17 years I still occasionally dream of my mother and feel no need to rationalize or consider it anything less wonderous than the fact that our souls become so entwined with the souls of the ones who touch our lives, who we love, that they are never really gone from us. (Obviously I believe in eternity). Some are just more open to hearing than others.


    • March says:

      Believe it or not, everyone’s messages have made me feel a lot better about the whole thing. I am grateful to have that dreamtime, and hearing others’ stories makes it seem just fine, you know? Anyway, thanks.

  • Maria B. says:

    Hello, March, I send you a big sisterly hug. My mother died last year on the 22nd of May, a few days after Mother’s Day. Yesterday I tried not to remember it was Mother’s Day, but, of course, I did anyway. Last year I took my mother roses from our garden on Mother’s Day, and she enjoyed them. Unfortunately the nursing home personnel let the water in the vase dry out and they wilted quickly. My mother didn’t notice they had dried. I have frequent nightmares about my mother and the nursing home. They’re painful.

    This is the first year I face the double death anniversary: my father’s on the 20th (by suicide, 18 years ago) and my mother’s on the 22nd. My DH has to be at a conference. I’m glad Norbu will be here. The way I memorialized my mother soon after her death was to sing songs she liked. Singing had brought us together when I was a child. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sing this year.

    March, you were fortunate in your mother-in-law.

    • pitbull friend says:

      Hey, Maria:
      I’m glad Norbu, the sage Italian greyhound, will be there, too. Hang in there. — Ellen

      • Maria B. says:

        Oh, Ellen, you made me laugh. Norbu only looks sagacious. He’s actually a scamp. Sometimes I think that, in keepaing with a perfume theme, we should have named him Bandit. :d

        • Tigs says:

          Maria: We have more in common than perfume! Also, my dog is really named Bandit! (Dopey us, we named her that because of her looks and temperment and then realized our previous dog was… Smokey. Yes, Smokey and the Bandit.) When is your birthday?

          I’m so sorry to hear about both of your parents. I would just be bereft without either of mine, and so I have always appreciated the strength and struggle of those who have lost theirs. My mother herself is an “orphan”, having lost both of her beloved parents at different times to sudden illnesses many years ago. An electronic double-hug for both you and her (and Norbu, too, of course). I wish I could celebrate my day sniffing with my perfume buddies from around the world…

          • Maria B. says:

            Thank you, Tigs! My birthday is the 7th of February. I was born on my mother’s 35th birthday. She doesn’t seem to have had fun. 🙂

            I too wish we could celebrate our big days in person with our pefume-sniffing friends. But electronic sharing is nice too. 😡

    • March says:

      Oh, bless your heart! I’m so sorry. The flowers — yes, that was weird. I took them home with me, we’d only given to her the day before, it made me even sadder leaving them there.

      Hang in there.

      • Maria B. says:

        March, last night I dreamt that my DH and I were packing to go to London. It was very difficult because of the weather. We did get there, but then the dream went off in another direction. We were supposed to have joined you and Lee. I wish we were there. Enjoy! And please stop apologizing for having written a post that obviously has touched many readears’ hearts.

  • violetnoir says:

    March, what a touching tribute to your mother and your mother-in-law. Thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts with us.

    Isn’t the countryside of England beautiful? Stay safe and have loads of fun!

    Hugs and love!

    • March says:

      Well, it’s damp-ish. But I was prepared for it, and it is beautiful, as anyplace that temperate and wet should be. I’m banging around the Cotswolds right now and it is indeed luverly.

  • Tigs says:

    March – these posts of yours really amaze me. Are you a writer of some kind, outside of the blog? Your posts about your family and growing up are so moving (in the best way), funny, wise and vivid. Today is actually my birthday – the year I was born it was Mother’s day, and it’s always also my Mom’s birthday (what a double-present, 23 hours of labour, ugh!) Since I moved to Calgary, I always miss my Mom so much on this, our shared day. It’s always a great opportunity for me to really reflect on how stupendous a mother she has been, and I’ve been reflecting even more this year, looking at my healthy daughter and around this new house she helped me moved into. I’m so glad we got to spend that unexpected time together.

    • Maria B. says:

      Tigs, happy birthday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Many fragrant wishes!!!!

      I also was born on my mother’s birthday!

    • March says:

      Thanks — writing is what I studies (to the extent you can study it) and it’s what I flogged, corporate-wise, in my previous life. But, sure, as you’ve guessed, part of my fun/experimentation on the blog is working with writing. Hey, it can’t all be bill-paying and laundry, can it?;)

      I think that’s great about your mother and her b-day. My dad’s is 2 days after mine in June, and it’s also Father’s Day weekend most years, so we have a joint b-day with adjacent candles. Now the cake’s on fire…

  • sweetlife (ahtx) says:

    All teary-eyed now…and wondering about my own mother, with whom I have one long drawn out struggle, rather than a series of fights, as would be more sensible.

    I don’t think you need to “cure” or “fix” a darn thing. It sounds like your psyche is already doing that for you. Freud, for all his problems, describes mourning in such a lovely way. He says we take up each of the objects/memories/emotions we have from our our lost beloved (or self, or ideal) and turn them over and over in our minds until we can either take them completely into ourselves or are able to let them go.

    Keep wearing that Chanel dress. I have my grandmother’s big fake pearl earrings on today.



    • March says:

      Now, that is some Freud worth quoting. I thought about that for awhile. Thank you.

      Part of what I love about wearing her clothes is that they still smell very much like her. I will be sad if/when that’s no longer true. It’s like getting a hug. It’s her and nobody else on earth, you know?

      • Louise says:

        I took only one of my dad’s garments-a very warm and worn Polartec that he loved. For a long time it smelled of Dad-a certain almost cinnamon smell that was all him-no cologne, soap or lotion. He always had that smell, from my early memories to his deathbed. I wrapped myself in that polartec for comfort for a long while, and cried when I finally washed the scent away. Later, I did have one waking sensation of that scent filling the room. Maybe I’m nuts, but the comfort was immense.

  • Robin says:

    Lovely, March. Thanks for posting it. Join everyone else in hoping you’re having a GREAT time.

    • March says:

      R — I am having so much fun! Okay, the weather’s kind of crap, but the pubs! The people! The lager! The castles! The cider! Okay, I need to lay off the pubs … Wales. Wales exceeded my wildest expectations. I have all these fantasies about Wales, and there you are, I loved it. I could go on and on and bore you. It’s wild and windy and I fell in love. But let’s not tell Lee…

  • Lavanya says:

    A lovely post!..You’re almost making me cry…Big Hugs to you!!

    The story reminded me of losing my grandmother as a kid (one of my favourite people in the world).When she died, I was very upset that nobody kept her body incase she ‘stopped being dead’.. I *am* crying..

    Sometimes I think the bitter has gone from the bitter sweet memories and all that remains is the sweet..but sometimes, even after a long while it still hurts..

    • March says:

      I think you’re right, the bitter does go. And I never had more sympathy/empathy for my mother until I had kids of my own.:”>

  • pitbull friend says:

    Sweet March:

    Thank you for a lovely post.

    We buried my mom’s ashes in one of her favorite bird sanctuaries. After covering them over, we poured a thermos full of good strong coffee over her. We later found her list of birds and plants she had seen there — so she had known who her new roommates would be!

    When I first heard of it, Dia de los Muertos (the Mexican Day of the Dead around Halloween) sounded repulsive. But as I age, it sounds more & more like a good occasion to invite your restless spirits over to party. –Ellen

    • March says:

      Thanks for sharing your great story — I’m sure your mom was pleased.

      And yes, I do think getting everyone together for a party isn’t a bad idea… :”>

  • Christine says:

    What a lovely post March. And nothing wrong with leaving you MIL a little something to drink. When my father is in Brooklyn we always visit his side with pastrami sandwiches and beer, perhaps not the usual cemetary tidings, but fun.

    Hoping you enjoy the rest of your trip and for a safe return.

    • March says:

      I love that story! I hope someone visits me with chocolate. And perfume. That’s it, I want to be buried with my Guerlain.;)

  • Amy says:

    Oh, March… My dad died two and a half years ago, and as far as I can tell, I don’t think we ever stop missing them. He very rarely vivists my dreams, but it’s always so wonderful to see him when he does, and so hard to re-remember that he’s gone when I wake up.

    • March says:

      Thanks — yes, that bittersweet feeling of visiting. It’s amazing what goes on in our hearts and minds, isn’t it?

  • Silvia / Funkly says:

    March, I remember the original post you wrote when she died. I printed it, took it home and read it to my husband while tears were rolling down my cheeks. He thought I was totally insane crying for the mother in law of someone whom I didn’t know, but guess it fit with the rest of my other insanities he must have married me for.
    If you lived in Paris I’d suggest you go and see the Chilean film-maker Alejandro Jodorowski in one of the Paris Cafes, apparently he cures people with phsychomagic. Am not really sure how it works, but someone I know went and had to perform a simple yet symbolic act to put the memory of her father at rest and it worked.
    Good luck ! 😡
    P.S. I ensure you I am not such a weirdo.

    • March says:

      Thanks — I remember you telling me that. Just writing about it is a meditation for me. I can’t decide, sometimes, whether I want to try to fix it, either — maybe that unrest is good? Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.:x

  • Patty says:

    We miss you!! I love this post. My dad never showed up in my dreams very much after he died, and mostly just as a character that I was trying to save at the hospital, and he spent most of the dream just looking at me like I was nuts. I never expected him to show up in my head, it just wasn’t his style, but I still wish he would have dropped by more often.

    • March says:

      P — I love all your stories about your dad. They’re really special. He must have been quite a character.

  • Marina says:

    I am so sorry.
    Cherish the dreams while the come. They will come less and less and you will miss them very much.
    Big hugs.

    • March says:

      I know you’re right — I do cherish them, in a funny way, and I’ll be sad when they’re gone. I promise to do a cheerier post next time.

  • chayaruchama says:

    I miss you, too.

    My MIL died 10 years ago, and I had her admitted to my unit on Mother’s Day to care for her.
    I have lots of dreams about the ‘mothers’…

    Funny, and sad, what we miss, and what we remember.

    Love you, my dear.

  • sybil says:

    Oh, March…what a post. A dear friend of mine died 2 years ago, and I still have dreams about him.
    I’ll go out on a wonky limb, here….According to one of my friends, when you feel that someone dead has unfinished business w/ you, you should simply ask that person what they’d like for you to do. Pay attention, and eventually it will be clear what they want. What a cool MIL, though…mine wouldn’t know a Chanel if she tripped over it! Enjoy England.

    • March says:

      Sybil — that’s a great suggestion. Thanks. I get wafts of her perfume off her clothes, which I enjoy especially.

  • Elle says:

    What a beautiful post. ((((((M))))))
    Hope you’re having a wonderful time in England and look forward to seeing you back here next week. 😡

  • sariah says:

    Hi there March. Thanks for this post. Hugs to you over there in England.


  • Judith says:

    What a touching post! My mother died 16 years ago, and I still have dreams about her. Often, we discover that she did not die at all, but only was very sick (sometimes this includes my father, too). Often, too, they involve some kind of argument or disagreement that never really happened (this does not include my father). I miss her terribly, and I send you all my love and sympathy.:x

    • March says:

      Thanks — you know how it feels — happy and sad at the same time. I promise the next post will be about perfume!

  • Louise says:

    March-what a bittersweet post. I feel an urgent need to hug you and laugh a little with you. My dad has been gone just a year, and he visits my dreams very often, but with more pleasure, and less guilt on my part. No therapeutic exorcism needed, I think, just remembrance. And honor, as you have given your departed loved ones.

    Come home soon!

    • March says:

      Thanks for the kind words — I’ve got to hit London first! I’m really looking forward to some good perfumage.

  • helg says:

    This was such a touching and tender post. I can see exactly how you feel. And yes, missing the arguments, although sounds like a silly thing, is actually very very important and poignant.
    Be well! 😡

    • March says:

      Thanks — sort of depressing, now that I go back and read it, but from the heart.

  • Lee says:


    • March says:

      :”> You should see what I’ve been eating. Disgusting. But good. Spotted dick is rather nice, isn’t it?

      • Lee says:

        Oh – I love spotted dick and custard. Yum scrum. We do heavy fatty carb laden puds well in Blighty.