In the months following the death of my mom I used to have vivid dreams about her. There was never anything spectacular in the dreams; we weren’t skydiving over an ocean of grape jelly or anything (yes, I have actually dreamt that before, which, of course is an absurd concept… I would never skydive!) But we were sharing routine time together.
In one of the first dreams we were in the basement of our old house sorting hot socks out of the dryer; most of the socks were white, but still, it seemed that not many of them matched. We stood side by side in silence, sorting through the socks and folding the obvious pairs together, and setting aside the orphan-socks in a growing pile.
“This is stupid,” I said as I tossed more socks on the orphan-sock pile. “Half of these socks don’t even fit together, why did we even wash them? We should have only put pairs into the wash to begin with, and then we wouldn’t have wasted soap; we should just throw them in the trash bin!” I tossed a sock, yellowed from over-bleaching on the top of the pile.
Mom didn’t look up or say anything; she just kept sorting and folding, her rings clicking together the way they always did when she and I did horrid-looking latch-hook projects together on Saturday afternoons in the Winter.
I was frustrated with her silence, so I threw the next sock with more force than I needed. and it flew over the pile and slid into the crack between the wall and the dryer; I grabbed at it and missed, barely feeling the warmth of the cotton before the sock disappeared. I turned to roll my eyes toward mom in a “that figures” sort of way.
She was gone.
The basket of matched socks was gone as well; it was just me and the pile of miss-matched socks on top of the dryer. A wave of grief hit me hard enough to wake me from sleep. I sat up in bed and cried deep, heaving sobs knowing that she was really gone.
I sometimes wonder what, if anything, the socks meant. Sometimes I imagine that the socks represented all of the foster-kids she took in, myself included, and how she “put us through the wash” instead of letting us be “tossed in the bin.”
I also wonder how much valuable time is lost to being frustrated with one another over things as silly as miss-matched socks. It would be a gift and a curse alike to be cognitive of how short our time with one another really is, so we could get up above all the drama and get on with the business of living. Of loving.
Often I think about the things I would do with mom if I had just one day more: take her out for the perfect meal; sit in the coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon drinking in raspberry mocha's and easy conversation, or maybe a walk on the beach not talking, but just being together. Any one of these things would be spectacular, a blessing, but the truth is, I would do something as simple as sorting socks with her, if given the chance to see her for just a few moments more.