Mourning In My Sleep: (Re)Connecting with My Ancestors
i have been mourning in my sleep lately. my grandmother, my mother, and dear my aunts janet and carmen have visited me in my dreams. they all passed in the past six years and admittedly, i struggled with providing myself the space to completely mourn them. there always seemed to be someone else in more pain and in need of that kind of space. so as a protective measure, i step into the role of caregiver. or i intellectualize the pain. or i simply go numb. can’t call out of work because you are in a helluva lot of pain. so my grandmother, my mother, janet and carmen have been creating the space needed for mourning in my dreams.
the visitations began with my aunt janet. in the dream, i am searching for a book she left behind as other family members are packing away her things. i dig through bags and boxes for the book but cannot find it. then when i am about to give up, i see her sitting on the porch. i sit next to her and we begin to make small talk. i then ask, “why are you still earthbound?” and turn my head to cry. then i managed to push down my emotions. she replies, “because my work here is not done.” then i wake up crying.
the next day, my cousin evy, carmen’s oldest child, calls me to tell me that she and her sister have finally begun to go through their mother’s things – a year after her death. “we have tons of old pictures of you, your mother and your brother. you have to come visit us.”
a few days later, i traveled to philadelphia to see my family for the first time in over a year. as we sat around the table going through these photos, i felt all kinds of emotions. some painful and some hysterical. but they all answered questions i had about my family.
my grandmother lost her mother at a young age. my mother was forced to marry my father because she was pregnant at 13. in these stories, i realized that my mother was estranged from her mother as i was estranged from mine in my adult years. my grandmother wasn’t a hugger. neither was my mom. neither was i until the birth of my son.
i am still having visitations and trying to make sense of the direction janet is taking me. i am being patient and slowly providing myself the space to mourn while awake.