What My Mother Still Teaches Me, Years After She's Gone – Kveller
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What My Mother Still Teaches Me, Years After She’s Gone

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Last night while I was sleeping, I dreamt I was sullen and 16, sitting in the back seat of our Toyota Corolla with my iPhone. It was just the same as it was then–the seats were fuzzy blue, and the insides smelled like cigarette smoke and GAP Dream. Bach’s Brandenberg concerto was on the radio–KKGO FM 105.1.  And my mom was in the passenger seat, talking to me.  

“Saraleh, did you… honey, what do you think about…” but I wasn’t listening because I was on my iPhone, scrolling, pressing, “liking,” but not listening.

Dreamtime is its own time, and the years and moments meld into one another, because while we lie there sleeping, we are the sum of every year and every moment that we have lived and dreamed.

I’m not 16. I’m 33 and 1/3–the car’s long gone, and so’s my mom.

And here’s the hurt–the brutal, exquisite hurt: I would give up half of what’s left of my life to have her back with me right now for one day. For one goddamn cup of coffee, or one hour at the park with my kids.

But that is never going to happen. Because while dreamtime may fold over on itself, we can’t make that happen in waking life. Instead, we can only move forward, on a linear progression, even if our feelings may whirl and spiral all around us…

My mom is dead. But my kids are still here.

My loud and loving kids, laughing, whining, sharing, asking… But so often I’m not listening. I’m on my iPhone, scrolling, pressing, “liking,” but not listening.

There’s work I need to do, yes. And there is family–what’s left of it–on the other side of the world. Friends I miss, and friends I want to make. But where’s the line between what’s important, and what really matters?

“Mama, could we…  Mama, what do you think about…”

Back in the dream, from the front seat, my mother–my one and only mother–turned to me, put her hand on my leg, and said:

“Saraleh, put down your phone. Look what you’ll miss.”

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