It’s my grandma’s funeral, yet she is standing right here in front of me. Did something go wrong? Her face is as white as her hair. We’re in a hallway at the ceremonial building of her cemetery. She’s looking at the others who are at her funeral down the hallway. She knows she should be dead. She looks confused. Then she quickly turns yellow, then also purplish. As if she’s decomposing. She falls backwards. I catch her, my one hand behind her back, the other behind her head. My arms are around her fragile body and she’s facing me now. She looks at me in agony, confusion. As if she wants to ask me what she’s doing here. There’s a morbid serenity between us. She starts vomiting. She cannot stay on her feet, so I gently lay her on her back. My moms voice is mixed with my own in a command to put her on her side so that she doesn’t suffocate. I lay her sideways, then I violently start puking as well. It is not actual puke, it’s a yellow-black decomposed liquid. It spreads over the floor, creating little stretched-out puddles. Then a bit more, as if my bile spits death. If spurts on her feet.
I wake up in the middle of the night, unsure if she’s dead or alive. I feel sick, to the extent that I’m wondering if I am. It doesn’t go away easily. It was just a dream. Was she there? The likeness of the confusion was striking. Minds deceive, go back to sleep, I tell myself. So it gets dark again.
It dawns on me the next morning that the texts I had considered finished at my new job, got returned to me by some clients. As if they resurrected, through a will beyond me. As if I had to lay them back with care, not knowing if they would stay or disappear from my life. Perhaps the dream’s sepulchral aspect was related the Game of Thrones episode I’d been watching earlier last night. Things are never what they seem. Or maybe the dream related to the talk I had with my girlfriend afterwards, in which we spoke about her insecurities at work. A confusion which then probably reflected my own. It could even be related to a diuretic intestine problem I’m experiencing, working on my mind while I’m asleep.
But was she there?
My grandma didn’t believe in ghosts or in life after death. She told me that in the months before she died. Killed herself. She called me one day to inform me about her decision, so I went to visit her more or less weekly. Cook for her. Bond with her. For the first time in my life, really. I remember that a few days before she took her fatal drink, I had a similar, nauseating dream, less morbid than last night, in which I told her no, I wasn’t fine with her choice. I never told her in real life. My daily me respected her courage and resolve.
For many years I have romanticized death. A next state, a state of freedom. Where worldly matters release their grip. An eternal, infinite deep blackness we all carry inside us but fail to perceive. For a long time I looked upon death in the way I imagined it would look from the inside, as an experience. I’ve never believed in reincarnation, but yes, I do believe that consciousness exists outside our brain and also in dead matter. More than my consciousness shutting down when I die, I believe it will dissolve. A part of me may have projected this romantic perception of death upon my grandma’s choice to do euthanasia.
It only recently starts to dawn on me, that, free as death may seem from the inside, it leaves a penetrating print upon the living. As a biologist I could have known. We can be poisoned by a dead brother’s body. Could it be that if a body of a dead person can make you ill, so can a dead person’s emotion? Should that too be properly cleaned?
I’ve carried the disturbing memory as a heavy weight through the day. I never knew that death, in all its beauty, can be so repulsive. Not even when watching Game of Thrones. I don’t think I’ve ever had a viler dream. Death in my dreams was usually fresh or even mystical. Not rotting and definitely not in such a way that it spat from my own guts.
She told me she hoped I’d remember her in a nice way. I told her I would. I do. I’ve wondered today if I missed signals in her instants of confusion, when she was still alive. Instants remarkably similar to her anxiety in my dream. Her question if she’s dead or alive. For a while today I seriously wondered if there was a piece of her spirit remnant inside me. Yet now that I truly tune in to that time, I remember joy, laughter and a deep calm. Her choice was made. Anything I would have tried to do to stop her would have made it harder.
It’s that calm that tells me now that it was just a nightmare. The emotion should be taken care of in me, not in her. Some proper rest once in a while wouldn’t hurt.