This morning, I had a dream. I don’t actually remember what it was about. I just remember that Noah interrupted it, strolling onto the scene just like he often did when he was here with us. He plopped down on the edge of my bed wearing his gray Croatan Cross Country sweatshirt and a pair of jeans. For those who knew Noah, you know it was either that sweatshirt, his indoor percussion jacket, or his track and field sweatshirt. I’m sure people thought those were the only long-sleeved items he owned.
As I put clothes away in our new closet, Noah said, “Hey, ma,” as if the last five months hadn’t happened. He proceeded to talk about his day as if he were still here. Even in my dream, I was in complete shock. But, filled with fear that the vivid encounter might end, I played along, engaging in small talk with him as my heart raced in my chest. I sat down on the bed next to him and give him a hug. He hugged me back with his long, lifelike arms. I remembered his thin frame and felt his heart beating in his chest. I felt his warmth and took him in, hanging onto him as long as I could.
It felt so real.
For a few brief moments, sleeping soundly in my bed, this nightmare was over. I held his hand. We talked about our day. And then it happened. As quickly as Noah invaded my dreams, he was gone. I woke up, sucking in a deep breath with my heavy, racing heart in my chest. Just like that.
This happened one other time, shortly before we left the old house. He strolled into my dreams and sat at the kitchen counter as I made him a plate, chatting me up like he did on the nights he came home after working at Dairy Queen. That moment was also brief. Again, I woke up sad that the moment was over. But it felt so real.
I’m not a dream studier. I don’t know much about them or what they mean. But I know that Noah has his ways of reminding me that he is still here. Waking up is the worst part. A fellow warrior mother described it this way:
You wake up each morning and forget that this is your new life. Then that second fades and there’s reality ready to greet you.
I still get out of bed every morning, but the process is longer. There isn’t a morning that I don’t wake up and have that split second of normal. Every morning, I wake up thinking about Noah. Over the past five months, I’ve often been jerked awake by thoughts of the accident or the moments in the hospital. But that’s less often now. Now, instead of thinking about the week we lost him, I think about the boy we lost. I’m not sure which is worse. At least thinking about his final weeks reminded me of the reality that he could not be saved. But he was so much bigger than those moments. Remembering all of him reminds me he’s just “gone.” That’s the saddest word in the English language.
Yes, I’ve been quiet again. Some of it is because we’ve been busy. But some of it is because I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the months and holidays to come. I think parts of this season, which really started for us on Halloween, will be devestating, like opening up the Christmas boxes and decorating the tree, or Christmas morning without him. But we also have so much to be thankful for this holiday season: a new home, a new perspective, and understanding of the important things in life. But it isn’t just Noah we’ve lost this year. We’ve lost both of the hubby’s grandparents and our baby neice, Olivia. But, this year we also had a wonderful blessing join our lives, our other neice, Violet.
I know Noah, Mimi, Papaw, and Olivia will share the holidays with us and that new traditions will be hard. But I constantly remind myself that they are fine. It’s our family that is sad. They wouldn’t want us to be sad forever. So we will find the good in these holidays, regardless of how painful that will be. On Friday, we head east for Thanksgiving to make new memories and to see family and friends. Here’s to sharing wonderful memories and all we are thankful for with some of the people who loved Noah most.