Since my mother’s passing in 2010, I have been visited by a curious torpid torment that never fails to ruin my day. I haven’t told many about these recurring nightmares until now, and I’ve never spoken with a counselor or a therapist about them. Nevertheless, the nightmares persist to this day, though not nearly in the same frequency or intensity as in times past.
At some point during a dream I’ll have, the setting of the dream will change and I’ll be at my grandmother’s old house on West 50th Street. These nightmares never take place at the apartment my mother lived in for the last ten years of her life, nor do they take place at any of the places I lived with her during our few brief sojourns to Shreveport. They only occur at my grandmother’s house, where my mother and I lived with my grandmother. Sometimes my grandmother will be present, sometimes she won’t, but that point is academic, really; when she does appear in these dreams, she rarely — if ever — speaks. (If my grandmother says anything lengthy or of consequence, it’s typically just a normal dream that my mother and my grandmother appear in. It’s not a dream I would consider one of these nocturnal visitations, for lack of a more appropriate term.)
At some point, I will be speaking to my mother, Joyce, about something. Maybe it’s something mundane. Maybe I’m telling her about my day. Whatever it is we’re talking about, we’re usually talking about something. Sometime during our conversations, I’ll pour my heart out to this nocturnal apparition of my mother. The conversation will turn serious, and I’ll tell this apparition everything that has been or is currently troubling me, and the apparition of my mother will comfort me. She will hold me as she sits in a rocking chair and speak all the right words to soothe my troubled mind, and for a few blissful moments, I will experience what feels like a supernatural peace.
Then the apparition will turn to me, and from then on the dream turns sinister. Nothing about the apparition’s appearance will change at all; the eyes, the smile, everything shall remain the same, and it shall appear like my mother, but it will no longer feel like my mother to me. This entity will feel like a total stranger, and when the entity looks at me, all the peace and love that I saw in its eyes earlier will have vanished.
That’s when the entity asks me The Question, the one I’ve heard in dream after dream:
“You know I’m not really your mother, right?”
Guaran-damn-teed, I’m wide awake at this point, and I’m no longer feeling anything remotely like “supernatural peace” anymore. Hell, at that point, I’m usually more troubled than I was when the dream began.