In My Dream

In memory of Jean M. Bidwell 10/2/24 – 8/9/08

Sometimes there’s a cross-over between dream and waking states. Where one ends and the other begins is hazy:

The oncologist wiped sweat from his forehead onto the back of his hand. Self-consciously he slipped his hand into the pocket of his white smock. He placed his other hand on my arm. I felt the warmth penetrate through the layers of my blouse and sweater. His eyes, the color of ocean fog, reflected blue-gray, and focused slightly to the left of my nose. His voice was grave and resonate as he said, “Your mother is dying. The cancer is back. There’s nothing more we can do.” He shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry.”

A cold stillness passed through my body. I knew my heart must still be beating, but I couldn’t hear it, couldn’t feel it. For fifteen years, she had beaten the odds. Year after year, the cancer checks had come back clean. After the twelfth year she said, “Now I believe it’s really gone.” I had believed it too. Cancer had not claimed my mother. She had beaten it into submission with her will.

I woke in a cold sweat, the blankets tangled about me as I struggled to sit upright. My heart pounded–that was good. I could feel it; I could hear it. It was only a dream.

Over a lifetime, I’ve earned the rep as the family nut who calls early in the morning to suggest, for example, my sister take her cat Sasha to the vet because I dreamed of an obstruction in her feline’s stomach that had been overlooked. I later offered to pay the bill for the x-rays that showed a perfectly healthy and functional intestinal tract.

Then there was the time I instructed my brother to look under the loose brick in the neighbor’s back yard where I had dreamed his wallet, missing for a month, had been hidden. There was a loose brick, under which a scorpion was hidden that nearly stung him. Therefore, I was now in the habit of discounting my own dreams, and would only call to share a self-deprecating chuckle over the absurdity of yet another crazy story from my subconscious.

I lingered over a cup of French Roast. Oh, what the heck, I thought. As I reached for the phone to call Mom, it rang. I jumped. Hot coffee splashed onto the sleeve of my robe and dripped off my wrist as I hurled an expletive into the light of day. I set my cup down, dabbed at my cuff with a Kleenex, reached again for the phone, and picked it up on the third ring.

“It’s your mother,” she said. Mom had a way of cutting to the chase that made me smile when it wasn’t exasperating me.

“Mom, I was just about to call you. I had this…”

“The cancer is back,” she interrupted. “It’s on my liver this time. I’m dying,” she stated.

“I know,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”


  1. skspight says:

    Whoa Jo. What a story! I don't recall you telling me that one.