Friday, August 13, 2010

Head in a Lantern

The Dream: A friend has put her mother’s or aunt’s head in a lantern. She has also put my mother’s head in one. I am worried that my mother will starve. She will get no food in this odd cage. A part of me wants her to die so I’ll be “finished” with her; yet another part is concerned and guilt-ridden. After a while I think that she won’t starve to death; she’ll die of insulin shock before that happens. In fact, she might be dead already. I am very worried about her suffering, so her death would be a relief.

My mother died about five years before I had this dream, which sums up all the confused and tortured feelings that centered on my relationship with her. As a child I idolized her. When I was 17 she became diabetic, and I was in terror of her dying. Over the years, every time I saw her I thought might be the last. I saw her suffer through innumerable insulin shocks as well as cancer and heart disease. As anyone with an ill family member knows, all share the pain. In a very real way her death (at 85 in spite of everything!) was a release. Years later, as this dream shows, the unconscious is trying to come to terms with these feelings.

Besides my relief at an impossible situation being resolved, the dream gives me a glimpse of a kind of immortality. Important people in our lives don't die, but live on in us.  Mother's cage resembles a birdcage, and birds signify the spirit. That Mother’s cage is a lantern tells me her spirit still lights my way.

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