I had a dream last night that unsettled me. I dreamt that I was standing with some other people and saw a woman with her young son. He was small, maybe five years old at most. I was fascinated because he was holding what looked to be a “string” like Emma has, but much smaller. It was proportionately the same size as Em’s given how little he was. I turned away because Em was saying something to me and when I turned back around the mother and her son had walked away. On the ground was the little boy’s string. So I picked it up and ran after them. As I approached the mother I held out the tiny furl of string and said, “I think this is your son’s. I wouldn’t want him to lose it.” The mother stared at me and said, “What is that thing?”
I said, “Oh! I think it’s maybe his string. My daughter…” but before I could finish she interrupted me and said, “That isn’t ours. It’s garbage.” I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach. And then she turned away, carrying her son who gazed at me wordlessly over her shoulder. I stood there watching them walk away from me and felt stunned and confused. I wondered if maybe I’d somehow misunderstood and that perhaps it wasn’t important to her child. And then I felt ashamed for having approached them and said anything. Ashamed that I’d assumed it was important because my daughter’s string is so important to her. Ashamed too, that what is considered beloved and of value to my daughter is seen as garbage by another. I stood there feeling these things and then I turned to find my daughter was no where in sight. I felt that horrible surge of panic and adrenaline as I began going through the various scenarios of where she could be or what might have happened to her.
When I woke up I wanted to cry I felt such unspeakable sadness. All morning that dream stayed with me like a shadow. All morning I have felt fragile and on edge. And then I read my friend Gareeth’s latest blog post. You can read it ‘here‘. It is a daughter’s moving and powerful tribute to her mother. I cried as I read because it is so beautifully written, but also because it is about profound loss as well as gratitude for what wasn’t lost. Loss of time, loss of relationships, loss of missed opportunities… and as I read I realized that dream was also about loss and judgement and denial and how we harm those we love. And now as I sit here in my studio looking out at the bumper to bumper traffic on the 59th Street bridge, the rain pours down. I can hear drops splattering the top of the air conditioner that juts out of one of my studio windows in irregular plops and pings. Rain drops stream down the windows obscuring my view and I am surprised that I hear no angry honking given how treacherous the traffic is, just the occasional siren can be heard in the far distance.
I feel so grateful to all those people driving their cars who aren’t honking at each other. I feel so grateful that though the traffic is at a crawl, people are being patient and it gives me hope. Let me be patient today with every person I come into contact with. Let me give myself the same respect and patience. Let me be aware and kind and respectful to others today. Let me feel gratitude for all that I have. Let me feel my feelings and not behave as though my feelings are facts. But most of all, let me know the difference.
Em’s string – February, 2013