I just woke up from a dream feeling more sorrow and grief and regret than I have ever felt in my whole life. I also felt like I needed to write about it, for my sake I think. Any it's on this blog because I guess I hope this is a semi-permanent safe place for it to be.
It started out like many of my dreams do, honestly, which is like a summer blockbuster movie. It felt like I was in some kind of post-apocalypse state of the world. I was running away down a dark street from some futuristic bad guys on futuristic hover bikes, being all futuristic and stuff. Eventually I was caught.
They took me to "the" main big bad guy, who now in the fading wisps of my memory of this dream can only be described as Loki from Thor. (I'm sorry for all the plot holes, I'm sure there is a lot more to my awesome back story and why this guy was after me. My movie-dreams are usually more detailed than this... I'm a little disappointed in my sleepy brain right now, but it's 2 AM and my screenwriting career is just going to have to wait...)
Anyway, suddenly everything got more down-to-earth. Loki was with me in a room of an office building, but it no longer felt like a dream or a summer blockbuster. He told me I have to die. We talked for what seemed like hours, me trying to convince him the whole time that I can't die. It can't be my time. But somehow, he convinced me that he's right. That this is something I have to do to save someone. He left me alone in the room. I had until 4:00, and then I would die.
At first I didn't know what to do. I walked out of the room into a kind of central office area, with cubicles and front desks and a break room all in one. There were two girls there - I can't remember who they were but they were real people I've met. I started telling them - only slightly audible through my shaking and sobbing - about how I was going to die and I was scared and sad. They were only mildly sympathetic. They kept glancing at each other and then talking about really superficial, unimportant things. Like shopping and celebrities.
I kept walking into the break room area where I found a woman, who is someone I know in real life who I just met in our new neighborhood. She looked at me in a way that conveyed both resigned sadness and a look that said "you've just got to suck it up and do this, it's just how it is." And then out from behind her walked my whole world.
My little Finn.
He didn't know what was happening and just wanted to explore this big, empty, semi-dark office building. He wasn't upset, just almost bored. Immediately I realized why I had been feeling so sad and scared. I was suddenly filled with suffocating, almost debilitating grief. Not because I realized in that moment I wouldn't get to raise my precious, sweet boy - who up until this point in my dream I didn't know existed. But because he wouldn't know how much I love him - and had loved him for the first 2 1/2 years of his life. There was a part of me, behind the sorrow, that knew he would be fine and that Chase would provide and care for him. I was not worried about his welfare. My concern was just that he simply wouldn't know the depth of my love for him. It was the scariest, most horrifying feeling.
I looked at the a clock on the wall and suddenly realized it was 1:30 (which incidentally when I woke up from my dream, it was). I had almost no time left and it hit me, as I stared at my perfect son, curiously pushing buttons on the fax machine, that even if I hugged him tightly and turned his head to face mine and stared into his beautiful eyes and told him adamantly and sincerely how much he had made my life complete and how much I adored and loved him... he simply wouldn't remember. He was too young and would probably smile and give me a sloppy kiss and continue exploring the break room.
I left him to play in the safe hands of the woman and ran into the hallway. I wandered through the dark building until I found a large computer lab. The screens were all lit and waiting. I only had 2 1/2 hours of breath left. I sat down with the full intent of writing a letter. Something he could read and understand when he was older so that he would know what he meant to me. I started typing, all the while with tears streaming down my face.
I heard the door of the lab swing open and Finn wandered in. He saw me and yelled, joyfully, "Mommy!" and ran and climbed into my lap. He started playing with the mouse and keyboard and I became frustrated because it was so important that I finish this letter to him before I die. I pulled him down off of my lap and looked around and saw the woman waiting in the doorway. I nodded my head toward Finn in an exasperated way, as if saying "Can you come get him so I can get this done?!" She took him out of the room without a word.
I didn't know what to write. I started feeling panicked and suddenly looking at the clock I only had minutes left to live and nothing typed. I ran back into the main break room area and saw the two girls who looked as mildly sympathetic and uninterested as before. I searched for Finn and the woman but couldn't find them. My time was almost up. A moan/shriek of pure sorrow and frustration and regret and horror escaped my mouth...
Then I woke up in my bed next to Chase and slowly came to the realization that it was all just a dream. I was crying and my chest felt achy and tense as if I had really been sobbing for that past hour.
I had been feeling really down and sad before we went to bed. That day had been a tough day with Finn. He hadn't been listening to me at all and every time I had asked him repeatedly to do something (or more often to NOT do something) he wouldn't obey and would just stare at me until I blew up in frustration and anger at him. I went to sleep feeling like a failure in two ways. One, for not being a good enough mother because I hadn't taught him how to listen and to not hit/throw/push other kids. And two, for getting upset and losing my temper with him when he is only 2 1/2 years old and still doesn't understand so much about the world.
Still in tears, I laid in bed thinking about this dream and wondering what it meant. At first I thought, "Am going to get hit by a car and die on my morning run?" Maybe Heavenly Father is trying to warn me that my time is short. I thought about that and realized sadly that if that was indeed true, I have many regrets. I regret not being more patient with Finn... I regret the times I let him watch a movie on the iPad only to become consumed by some terribly unimportant thing I was looking at on my phone, until he finally jumped on my lap to hug me and grab my cheeks so he could look straight into my eyes, as if to remind me what I SHOULD be paying attention to. I regret the times I yelled at him to hurry because time just wasn't moving fast enough for my fast-paced schedule. I regret not playing more with him. Not teaching him more. Not reading more books or singing more songs. There were many times I could have done those things more with my precious little boy... but didn't.
No, more than likely this dream wasn't a death omen - but obviously I haven't ruled that out or I wouldn't be up in the middle of the night typing this - but I feel like it was meant to teach me and remind me of what is really important.
The idea that I wasn't worried about Finn's welfare but only about him knowing I loved him is so painfully interesting to me. Imagining him growing up without me, wondering what his mother had been like and how she felt about him literally makes me ache. I know that families are forever and that if I die I'll be with Chase and Finn again. And in my dream I was literally walking to my death (which from what it felt like was going to be some kind of execution).
In stories and movies, the people who know they are going to die and have just moments to live seem to only want one thing: to say their last words, their last goodbyes. It brings into perspective how little of the day-to-day things we consume ourselves with matter - when faced with certain death all the superficial, materialistic, worldly concerns go out the window. We can't take anything or anyone with us when we die. We can only leave behind our legacy in the form of memories.
Most people don't get to say their last words. They die unexpectedly in a car accident or of a heart attack. I think in my dream I realized that, yet I was still paralyzed by fear because I knew all the memories I had left behind with Finn would disappear because he was too little to remember them. Or remember me. And that broke my heart. I think the reason that Chase wasn't really a part of my dream is because I know he knows how much I love him. He has memories and records of thousands of "I love you's" and hugs and kisses and laughter.
At the end, when it was almost time, I started the panic. I can still feel the anxiety and fear even though I've been awake for 2 hours. The truth is that at any moment my life could end and there would be so many things I wished I had done before it did. So many things I'd want to tell my little boy who is everything to me. So many things I'd wish I had done with him so that when he was a teenager he might have some blurry picture in his head from an old memory where he could feel for just a moment how much his mommy had loved him.
When it came down to it, even with the foresight of knowing exactly, to the minute, when I was going to die - I still never got my "last words". I never wrote down my loving and perfectly eloquent letter to the future adolescent Finn that I hoped would comfort him as he grew up without me. In my very last moments, I was searching for him, wishing I hadn't left him to write that letter and pushed him off my lap when he "got in the way"... and it was too late. I wished I had instead cradled and kissed his head a million times and just stared at his beautiful little face for every second I had left to be with him. I wished I had chased him through the halls of that office building just to hear him shriek and giggle. I wished I had hidden in a doorway so that I could hear his adorable little voice calling, "Mommy? Are where you mommy?" only to pop out and startle him so that he would run to me and throw his arms around me while we both laughed.
I want to spend every moment of the rest of my life, however long it may be, being the best mother I can be to him. That might not mean he always eats perfectly healthy meals. It might not mean that I will never get frustrated with him. In fact, I'm sure I will and I will beg for his forgiveness every time I stupidly do so. But I will try harder to spend the time I have with him - with him. Not sidetracked by work or technology or cleaning or ignorant assumptions about how he should act when he's still just an innocent, curious little boy.
Today was just a rough day, and that's all. The fact is, most days with my little Finn are perfect in their own way - even with the tantrums we both have. They are full of his laughter, his questions about the world, his pure and genuine observations about his relationships with others. Each and every moment with him is a gift. His smile is contagious. His love for life is absolutely breath-taking. His humanity - his natural sympathy and concern for others - makes me sigh with gratitude that I have been blessed to raise this child who is sure to grow up to be a great man. Yes, he deserves better than me. So I will try to be better.
Finn, I love you. You are my best friend and no matter what happens, know that I love you and that our family is eternal - you are stuck with me as your woefully inadequate but determined mother. You are so loved by your mommy and daddy. You are so loved by your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The son of God suffered every pain imaginable - and everything that you will face in your life - so that He alone could be your companion, even when it feels like no one else on earth could understand how you're feeling or what you're going through. He does. For some reason, nothing has brought me more comfort than that knowledge. That's the most important thing I have ever learned and it's the one thing I want to teach you, sweet Finn. Never feel alone or unloved. He is always there for you. And so am I.