I dreamt last night about my son who died when he was six and worn out from fighting Leukemia fifteen years ago. In the dream, he was healthy, and someone else was looking after him upstairs while I was busy downstairs in a house. I came up to find him in a white, claw foot bathtub full of water. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully at the bottom. After a moment, I realized that he must be dead, unable to breathe under water. I pulled him up and held him, his legs around my hips, my arms around his back. I looked into his beautiful face, his eyes closed. I screamed and keened in the realization that he’d died.
After a few minutes, presumably from all the noise of his momma’s wailing, his eyes fluttered open. Seeing that he might be able to come back to life, I shouted for him to wake up, to come back. Slowly, in little bits of waking, moving his head from side to side, opening and closing his eyes, and finally smiling that unforgettable, mischievous smile, he did. He was alive. I hugged him and felt the indescribable joy of having him returned to me. I even felt proud that I’d raised a boy so healthy that he could survive ten minutes without oxygen.
Later in the dream there was some talk in the family about how I shouldn’t have left him alone with a sitter. “Where was his mother?” was the gist of it, blaming me for his almost death.
This morning, when I told my fiancé my dream, I was surprised by the tears that slid down my cheeks when I got to the part about Chan being alive. I was surprised by the strength of the grief that overtook me as I wept harder, allowing myself to hold the thought of him in my arms, to hold the thought that he might have lived.
If only fifteen years ago my keening could have awakened him when I walked out of our cabin into the sunrise, his body stiff in my arms.
Nowadays I think I’m “over it,” healed. Mostly I am, but his birthday is in a few days. June has always been hard. This year it’s been better. This year I’ve made it this far into the month with no more than some low-level anxiety, which I didn’t recognize until today as unacknowledged grief.
But this dream tells me to remember, tells me to give myself the time and space to feel this loss. Because sometimes I still miss my little boy.