Do dreams have meanings?

I dreamt of my daughter twice more after that first time on 3rd January, and just the way nightmares can feel real and cause real terror, these dreams left me feeling peaceful.

In the dream on the 12th morning, I asked her, “We had burnt your body, then how are you in that same body?” She just smiled very serenely, and I hugged her. I hugged her a lot.

I asked her, “Were you in pain when you were in the ICU?”

She said, “Yes. I was almost fainting.”

She said this very simply, still smiling very sweetly. So, yes it was painful, but it was over and she was fine now. Strangely it didn’t hurt me to hear her say she was in pain, and maybe I would have never believed she was in no pain. But still, how could it comfort me to hear her say she was in pain?

Maybe what was comforting was that she was fine now.

Then a small animal appeared, with a snake in it’s mouth and the snake managed to wriggle and  escape. In this dream I was aware that  she was going to go back, and realised she could ‘go back’ (or die) with a snake bite too. I didn’t want to be taken by surprise, so we went to  my room and locked the door from inside. We sat on a mudha and I held her on my lap like a small baby, hugging her tight. I was fine with her going back, so long as I would know when she left.

The other dream was on 13th Feb, it was longer, I asked more questions, she smiled very sweetly, gave more hugs and some of it is hazy now, but it resulted in me waking up with a smile and finding the camera and taking blurry pictures of an unexpected Kingfisher from our balcony.

In all the three dreams, I was aware that she was dead and was only visiting. In each I was prepared for her to leave again.

Was this my subconscious mind putting ideas in my head? Were these Lucid Dreams’? Did I ‘will’ these dreams?

Here’s what I feel: When the pain is so wrong and so senseless, there’s no harm in it being dealt with something that seems equally illogical.

And anyway I have no choice or control in either the dreams or the pain, then why not just be grateful for the comfort these dreams bring?

Another mother blogged about how dreaming of her daughter, five years after she died, helped her, here.

Advertisements

Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?

This morning I woke up with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Still not fully awake, I lay wondering what caused it. My mind, unbelievably, still in our life before Aug 2010. And then I realized (or woke up fully). Tejaswee. I tried to think what made this morning more difficult than other mornings, and then I knew.

I had opened Tejaswee’s laptop for the first time yesterday. It look a long time and many tries before I could remember the password. There was nothing new on her laptop actually, except that it was hers. Most of yesterday was spent going through photographs and videos not seen for a long time.

And hearing her voice after months.

Here she is with her favorite turquoise bracelet, also seen in the header and on the sidebar.

How easy it was to take for granted on 12th October 2009 that the child who sat on the kitchen counter, modeling her newest shopping, chattering endlessly, while I added tarka to her favorite dal, was going to be with us all our lives.

I am reading ‘When life changed forever‘ the author says, life was not meant to be predictable or planned, anything might change at any moment. And that the death of a child changes the parents forever. Accepting that we will never be what we were, might make it easier to live with our changed selves. I am realizing that some of the changes are subtle. Some changes come slowly as the realization sinks in. Maybe some of the changes are reversible. But this much is true, now we have two lives, our life before Aug 11, 2010 and this life after Aug 11, 2010.

Ricky Taylor says,

“Our friends and family, and we ourselves, wanted us to get back to ‘normal’. But ‘normal’ had been fiendishly changed….

But it also became very obvious to us that what he had thought of as ‘normal’ was phantom. It existed only in our minds. The reality was that each day promises a fresh beginning…”

The reality was that each day promises a fresh beginning...’
I don’t know how to see that. Sounds positive if one didn’t consider what one has lost.

Do you believe that each day promises a fresh beginning?

Dreams by Tj91

In the ‘A Letter to The Future Contest’, I had loved the letter by the winner, Shivika Saxena.

“Dear Mom, Dad, Sis, Special Someone

… I don’t even know whether you’ll get a chance to read this letter but I am still writing it because … if some day suddenly I am taken away from all the people I love,  …without being able to say something to everyone I care about …will make my heart die again. I was never good at goodbyes but I cannot make my final goodbye so dry that even my memories begin to wither. ….

… Now with this letter written I can go with a free heart and mind leaving all the adversities and feeling liberated from all the pain…”

(Click to read the entire letter)

This letter made me long for a similar letter from my daughter. I wondered what she would have written in her letter… I could easily imagine, of course, but that was no comfort.

Yesterday afternoon when I visited Tejaswee’s account on Deviant Art, I finally found something I had not seen before. This was published on Feb 10 2008, almost three years ago…

Dreams

by ~Tj91

DREAMS

What do you do when the days go bad,
When all that was good, seems suddenly, sad,
When the last vestige of joy seems gone,

Think of things gone by, gone good
Not of how things could be, how they should,
Would, may have turned out
Don’t fill your mind with so much doubt!
Oh! If I could put your mind at rest
But still, I’ll do my very best…

When things are bad
Oh, so sad,
Sit yourself down, and try to think
The tears that drop, do not blink
Back, let them fall,
And to yourself honestly tell all.
Allow not your biases to decide true or false,
And you’ll come to the bottom of what mauls
Your heart,
And then let it part
Fall into the soft arms of dreams
And sleep, my heart, sleep…!

I was glad to find something by her that I had not read before. She would have been twenty today. I am just grateful she came into our lives and although she had to leave a little earlier than we would have liked, I hope to continue to remember her with a smile, today and always.

2011… and an unbelievable dream.

This new year is like none before. There’s still a wish that I will wake up tomorrow morning to find that the second half of the 2010 never happened. I am sure we are recovering in some ways but they say a child’s death changes you. How much have we changed? I have lost all my fears and worries. What bothers most people (and me earlier) doesn’t matter anymore. And somethings which others might find trivial have become a matter of survival.

Festivities are a painful time. A child’s birthday is now a day both cherished and dreaded. New year eve has no meaning. And one wakes up every morning hoping this day begins easier. I have learnt it helps to avoid whatever and whoever causes pain. This too has become a matter of survival.

Avoiding triggers is not always easy. The biggest trauma triggers are  claims that  another hospital, a different treatment or another set of doctors could have saved Tejaswee’s life. One near stranger asked questions and  although I knew where I was treading, I talked about the treatment and symptoms and illness. And then relived it all that evening.

A friend said that she tried but could not imagine herself in my position. She said even thinking about something happening to her child was just too horrible. Why did it hurt me? It was (and still is) unimaginable for me too. If it wasn’t I would have said goodbye to her when doctors said only a miracle could save her…

Sometimes some people are only expressing how they feel, but I am pushed into days of unbearable lows.

My sister says sometimes I look and sound so ‘normal‘ that it is difficult to remember how fragile the normalcy is. She says it is difficult to know what the right thing to say is. (The answer to this is, when in doubt, just be a good listener and give no unasked for advice. This requires another post.). She remembered how she had called me this September and upon hearing my “Hello” burst into tears saying the emptiness in my voice reminded her of a friend who had lost her daughter five years ago. She said death of a child did that to mothers. I didn’t want to live for five years if what she said was true.

I had reminded her (and myself) that I hoped to remember my daughter with a smile and although I am learning this is not always easy, I am still working on it. Our life has changed and happiness, as we saw it earlier, is no longer a part of this new life.

And yet something happened that brought peaceful joy and happy-sad tears at the same time.

At around 5 am on 3rd Jan, I dreamt of my daughter. She wore her gray sweater and she was smiling. I saw myself holding her close and telling her I had missed her so much because I never got to tell her how much I loved her (and hear the same from her) one last time before she died. No hugs. No reassurances. No idea how she was feeling or if she was feeling anything at all.  No idea, even that we were not going to be walking out together from that ICU. And she smiled with sweet (no other word describes it) understanding, held my face and said she loved us very much and I hugged  her tight and we sat and talked and I think (this bit is hazy) took photographs together.

It was a long dreamlike dream. I told her, after this time spent with her, I could now live with her dying and going away forever. And she smiled sweetly, half teasingly, at my comfortable mention of her death. (I didn’t discuss their death with my kids, fearing, sort of, that talking about death might make it happen. She always thought it was okay to talk about our loved ones dying.) As it happens in dreams, I could hear her thoughts, and she thought (conveyed) she was going nowhere. And I knew in this dream that she had died. And yet the feeling of peace stayed.

I woke up and fearing I might forget parts of this precious dream, shared every detail with my husband. He still relives her time in the ICU when trying to sleep, but for two nights after this dream, he has slept peacefully.

This is another way in which we have changed, …or maybe not changed. Her smile, even in a dream, doesn’t fail to provide hope and strength.  And a reason to remember her always with a proud, loving smile.

Setting goals, making plans, making some bits of life predictable.

Anniversary reactions can be traumatic. The added stress of feeling unwell can make grief tougher to deal with. Exercise is known to help fight stress, but only if one wants to fight stress.

Yesterday morning I had another positive conversation with a dear blogging friend. She warned it’s easy to sink into self pity, and reminded me how unhelpful and useless that could be. Sometimes we just need gentle reminders and I am sure this is how Support Groups work. She insisted she is not ‘helping’ and the support is mutual.

What happens to those who do not find such connection and support? I wish we had Support Groups in India, or we can begin to create one. Please do get in touch if you know somebody who needs support in coping with grief.

The conversation was like counseling and by end of it I reminded myself that (Quoting Starry) “There are many choices in the journey of recovery from loss.

So,

1. I found this picture of a Rangoli my daughter made two years ago. I tried to feel grateful for the beautiful memories we created and the precious time we spent together…

2. My sister had told me about this very motivating site. Answer some questions related to your lifestyle, eating habits and medical history and know your ‘Real Age’, and pick a plan suited to you. Yesterday, finally, I took out my Sketchers and walked to this video – most suitable for someone who hasn’t been active for a while.

It’s the workout you won’t quit. In fact, walking has the highest stick-to-it rate of any exercise.

Click to try if you have been wishing to start exercising.

3. I gave up sugar in tea sometime back but yesterday, inspired by this site, I bought Green Tea, deciding to move from caffeine to anti oxidants.

I also switched to fruit and yogurt for breakfast.

4. I have been living one day at a time, unsure what each morning brings (self pity, more pain, hope, positive thoughts…). Now, with the plan below, with a goal set for Jan 8th 2011, a small part of each day will stay positive and predictable.

Give us 2 months, and we’ll add years to your life and life to your years. Do two little things each week, and step by step, week by week, you’ll look and feel younger, stronger, and more vibrant. Click on Week 1 below to get started.

Take a look.

“The pain will never go, but you will smile again.”

Since I want to remember my daughter’s life and not her death, I try not to think about the time she was in the ICU. I try and remind myself that the last nineteen and half years were the best years of our lives and such precious memories should make us smile not cry. I also fear that if remembering her causes pain, one day we may not want to remember her.

And then a relationship so beautiful should give us the strength to face what we can’t change.

Last Tuesday, a dear, elderly relative was in the ICU and I felt I would atleast be able to go to the hospital, if not visit him inside the ICU. Just then I got a call from a blogging friend – (for the first time ever) Sangeeta Khanna. She said she knew the moment she heard my voice that I was feeling positive. She sounded so glad, her relief and the fact that she cared  was overwhelming and strengthening.  She said, “I am so happy you are going now, it’s better to confront our fears. You will be fine. Go to the ICU too. You will be fine. I know.”

Reminded me of another friends who had said ‘Just pick it up IHM!”

I did not go inside the ICU but I know I can. I have been avoiding all triggers and reading positive books and it does help… but I am also learning that I can confront some triggers.

I told her, “This week has been easy. I slept well, and one day I  woke up without this terrible weight in my chest…  I blogged. I read. I plan to learn to knit. On easy days, I make plans for what I’d do and think when the pain is intense and everything seems hopelessbecause there is no way to know how difficult tomorrow might turn out to be...

Tomorrow!? …we can’t even tell how we’d feel in an hour.” Sangeeta understood. She knew.

The not knowing is frightening.

All these days I have been wishing I could see a sign, some indication that my daughter is still there somewhere. On the 24th morning I made a cup of tea and spilled some and I picked a duster, and was wiping it. It was a pleasant October morning, and pleasant mornings had been saddening, because everything good seemed to rub in how the world goes on… but this morning I noticed the lovely morning without pain.

And then I noticed, suddenly, that I was humming. I was humming the first song from sm’s video. And I wondered if a stronger sign was needed. I remembered a beautiful email from a mother who had lost her daughter, just after losing her husband to cancer. She had said, “One day you will hear yourself laugh, you will be startled. But know that even if this moment disappeared like it never happened, there will be many more of such moments. The pain will never go, but you will smile again.” And I am sure I will find myself humming on many more such mornings.

I will also smile and remember her like I did on Saturday evening, when I told a friend about how much Tejaswee could talk even as a baby.

It’s Real not Virtual : Love from Crafty Shines…


Crafty Shines couriered me a packet… she refused to tell me what it contained.

 

Turquoise Heart Key Chain… Crafty Shines do you know this was Tejaswee’s favorite colour?

Three books marks and a ‘Cake in a Cup’ key chain… (Dizzy Dee’s Cake in a Cup!)

Calvin and Hobbes… to learn a little more about these two ‘literary characters’

And Calvin… : D isn’t there a bit of him in everyone?’

Don’t miss Hobbes’ reaction to the sight of a book mark with his face (below)

Crafty Shines shared these lines,

“…But the threads of memories

Are woven with enduring specks.

I will pick these particles,

Weave the threads,

And I will meet you

Yet again…”

(From Amrita Preetam’s ‘Mein Tainu Pher Milangi’)

I found the lines here,

Mein tainu pher milan gi (I will meet you yet again)

I will meet you yet again
How and where? I know not.
Perhaps I will become a
figment of your imagination
and maybe, spreading myself
in a mysterious line
on your canvas,
I will keep gazing at you.

Perhaps I will become a ray
of sunshine, to be
embraced by your colours.
I will paint myself on your canvas
I know not how and where –
but I will meet you for sure.

Maybe I will turn into a spring,
and rub the foaming
drops of water on your body,
and rest my coolness on
your burning chest.
I know nothing else
but that this life
will walk along with me.

When the body perishes,
all perishes;
but the threads of memory
are woven with enduring specks.
I will pick these particles,
weave the threads,
and I will meet you yet again.

-Amrita Pritam.

The picture can be seen bigger here.

Main tainu pher milangi

 

Note: I was undecided about what to call this post – ‘Virtuality Shines For Real’ or ‘A Courier from Crafty Shines’ or something else. I asked Phoenixritu on G mail Chat and the post title is her idea. Thank You Phoenixritu.

On writing about Hope.

What made me write those posts while sitting outside the ICU? Most of the days I wrote but didn’t publish, and some of the writing was like speaking to oneself. One desperately needed hope and strength.  Apu mentioned ‘The year of Magical Thinking’ and I wish to read it…
All this time I had been thinking that the days outside the ICU went in a daze and I can’t remember what happened when, and I don’t want to remember, but still went through the emails in the ‘Sent’ box, yesterday, emails sent to friends – from virtual and real world, using an I Phone, from outside the ICU. Instead I should have gone through the links, emails, recommended books and the photocopied book Sulo couriered.
Abhilasha sent this link, which clearly explains why this blog had been such a source of strength and solace.

Magical Journaling

Grief journaling and all forms of writing have long been recognized as an important and helpful tool for healing. In his book Waking the Tiger Peter Levine says that “[traumatic symptoms] stem from the frozen residue of energy that has not been resolved and discharged; this residue remains trapped in the nervous system and can wreak havoc on our bodies.”

I have found that I read and reread comments, emails, posts and links and stories. Sometimes I write replies that are not sent or posts that I won’t publish… but writing is like sharing and communicating, even if it is not really shared, just writing it down helps. What I cannot bring myself to do is write letters to my daughter… but I hope to do that someday soon.

Just pick it up…

Yesterday, Son asked me to get him some photographs of the new apartment we are moving into. He had no idea the camera brought terrible, frightening, painful memories.  The last pictures I took were of Tejaswee in the hospital room, before she was moved to the ICU,  when she was sick but when she was still making limericks… When I did not know how our lives were going to change so completely. One is not ready to download or see those pictures yet, even the sight or the thought of that camera  was unbearable.

In Gurgaon, while the Movers unloaded, my friend M. and I sat between brown cartons  and as she told me about PLR (Past Life Regression) and how those who die young have finished their purpose in life and nobody, not even god can stop their souls from escaping and being born again.

M and I met everyday when our kids were young. We took them to the same park, the same swimming pool, and to the same Birthdays and Christmas parties, often together. M. had rushed from her 3rd floor apartment to ours on 7th floor (in Bombay) with paracetamol syrup when Tejaswee had fever, one night in 1993.
Our daughters watched their first play (by ‘Little Actors’ Club’) together.  M’s husband had encouraged a frightened 8 year old Tejaswee to jump from the 5 meter board…

M. knew Tejaswee.

Our new neighbours didn’t. They visited to welcome us and asked very simply, “Who all are there in your family?”

We need to get that photograph enlarged and framed at the earliest.

Later M. remembered Son’s request for photographs of this apartment.  I told her how I felt about taking pictures or even looking at the camera. She said very gently, “Just pick it up IHM. Just pick it up and start taking photographs.” It was as simple as that. I picked it up. I knew where it was. I did want to get over the fear and pain the sight  caused. Looking at the pictures taken in the hospital may not be possible yet, but I realise I wanted one less painful-association. M told me of the time she fell off her two wheeler and somebody advised her to sit for two minutes but she told them, “If I sit down for two minutes I will never ride a two wheeler again.”

So slowly I hope to go through her pictures, her laptop, her old English Grammar Notebooks (saved since KG, because I feel school essays are almost like a child’s personal diary)… because whatever I do, I don’t ever want painful associations resulting in her never being talked about.



We are moving…

The packers are here. There was no choice but to go through Tejaswee’s stuff.  Although some of it should have made me smile like the letter she wrote to J K Rowling at 11… (will post it later) but maybe we are not  yet ready for it.

Son was angry and tearful and frightened, asking, ‘Why her?’ He said he saw a video on You Tube about the soul escaping by breaking a bullet proof glass. He also read Dr Brian Weiss’s ‘Same Soul, Many Bodies’ and a forwarded message quoting from the Gita… he wants to believe she is there somewhere.

We had kept one room out of bounds for the packers. The dogs, the cat, our cellphones, keys and anyone who needed a break had a place. I entered the room to find my husband alone there, crying – for the first time. Are we doing the right thing by moving?

We are moving to be closer to family and friends. Husband will  have his family close by and also a place to take much needed and therapeutic long walks with the dogs.  Son will have his cousins and friends…  Our daughter lives in our hearts, leaving this house does not mean we are leaving her or her memories behind.

But crying helped him. Once the packers had left  at 9 pm (without finishing  packing) he was able to watch TV. He was able to sleep too.

Tejaswee’s friend shared this to be added to Friends’ Remember on her blog. She also promised to visit us in Gurgaon.

And then, late in the evening  an old, old friend, M called – I knew she was flying from Pune on the 4th, to spend the day with me. And we are moving tomorrow. I had forgotten. She said not to worry, she was going to help us pack and move.