Fuzzy sleep lines cloud my vision. Sound muffles out. I’m about to sleep. And then-
Me: Holy shit, MOM?!
Mom: Oh, my sweet favoritest little angel, I’ve missed you so much. How are you?
Me: Hold on. I’ve had this dream before. Are you dying?
Mom: No. I’m dead.
Me: Kind of anti-climatic, wouldn’t ya say?
Mom: Well, I’m dead, so I don’t really care. Anyway – It’s mother’s day, and I thought I’d celebrate motherhood by swinging by to say hello.
Me: I’m sort of tripping. It’s not easy getting used to you being gone, ya know? Remember when you died?
Mom: Not really, I was pretty high. Not even sure on what. Next thing I know – pplbbbtt – dead.
Me: And then you took the form of a screech owl and hooted at me the next morning? I heard you! It gave me goose bumps – made me realize you would always be there for me, whether or not I knew it.
Mom: Wasn’t me.
Mom: Yeah, I don’t know what to say – just an owl, I guess.
Me: Well, where the F were you?
Mom: What is this, a psychology blog? Stick to the funny, dummy. I was dead, and now I’m here. Don’t over think it.
Me: Have you been watching over me?
Mom: You make me sound like a stalker…
Yes. I have. We need to talk.
Me: For real? Moooooom.
Mom: (cackling laugh) Oh Stephen – don’t you know how much I love you? I died thinking your were a man without flaw. A loving, caring and compassionate, handsome little version of myself. Do you really think I’m going to ruin all that by watching you when you think no one is watching?
Me: No, I guess. Thanks?
Mom: You’re welcome. Tell you who I do watch – Kaya and Lucy.
Me: They’re something, aren’t they?
Mom: I wish I’d had some time with Kaya.
Me: Me too. She’s a special little kid. You’d have got a real kick out of her.
Mom: I know. I’m sorry.
Me (misting over): Mom – you never need to apologize.
Mom: I know – I just know how much you like to brag, and I imagine this little Kaya creature would give you ample opportunity. I see she’s learning to talk.
Me: She’s got a handful of words – none of them intelligible. Except for “toot” which she busts me out with on the daily.
Mom: You toot a lot. They smell bad. Always have. I feel bad for Marie.
Me: How much time do we have here? Is this really what you want to talk about?
Mom: No- I just want to make sure you’re ok. It’s mother’s day, and I though we could hang out, talk about the past, present, future, whatever…
Me: Remember that time you gave me that haircut before Katie Sennett’s birthday and I started to cry because it looked like you’d cut a line in my hair, and I was 11 and you told me I was too old to cry about something like that, but you were really sorry anyway?
Mom: That was very embarrassing… for you.
Me: I know – anyway – that look is currently in style, and I just wanted to applaud you for being ahead of your time.
Mom: I tried to tell you.
Me: Remember that time Lexie Hook dumped me on the chairlift while skiing?
Mom: Yeah. Again, very embarrassing.
Me: I used to cry a lot, huh? Well – I remember you lying in the snow with me, talking about life and all the opportunities that lay ahead. It meant a lot to me. We decided she was probably gay, right?
Mom: No. We didn’t. We decided she had bad taste in boys.
Me: Oh yeah. And then I called her a “Ho Bag,” and her parents got all mad at me and asked me what that even meant.
Mom: What did that mean?
Me: No idea – but sounded about right, right?
Mom: Yeah – it was pretty funny. Good one.
Mom: Remember that time in first grade when you told your teacher that you were too tired to be at school because you were up late watching dirty movies and drinking beer?
Me: Sort of. It was awhile ago.
Mom: Well I’m not one to hold grudges, but you should really contact your elementary school principal and reiterate that it was non-alcoholic beer, and you only had a sip, and the movie, well, yes, there were some boobs – but I didn’t know that was coming, and really, it was your father’s fault. And your cousins. Not Mine. Got it?
Me: I’ll see what I can do about that.
Mom: Good. And about that whole slowly dying in front of you thing. I’m sorry. It sucked for me too.
Me: I know. You didn’t appear to be having much fun.
Mom: You shouldn’t have seen that. I was just too much of a bad ass to die respectably. Death came for me and was like, “Fuck lady, let go already.” And I was like,” Bitch – I biked 50 miles 3 weeks ago. I’m the third little piggy – hard to knock down a fortress made of brick – ya know?”
Me: That’s very poetic. What did Death say?
Mom: Death said, “I like your attitude lady. Fine – hang around for a minute, get your goodbyes in order. Watch some season finales.” So I did. By the way – Mad Men sucks. And Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? That almost killed me on the spot. How’s your dad?
Me: Good, I think. He misses you. He spends a lot of time watching old videos of you on his phone.
Mom: What videos? What did he record? Oh Jesus.
Me: Gross, I’m not even sure what you are referring too – but they are all very sweet.
Mom: Oh, good. Of course they are. Why would you think otherwise? Weirdo.
Me: Anyway – he’s good. He’s been out to visit a bunch. We spend most holidays together. He set up this mannequin in a dress in a rocking chair in the attic and goes up there to talk all the time.
Mom: Is it that black leather dress I used to wear with my blue cowboy boots? I hope so.
Me: You make me happy mom.
Mom: So what else is going on?
Me: Michael’s about to have a baby. I’m headed out there to lend a helping hand.
Mom: What about your job?
Me: I quit my job.
Mom: Jesus. Stephen, what are you thinking? I’m rolling my cremated ashes around this urn.
Me: Stop worrying. I’ll get another one. Besides – you’re dead. Is this really how you want to spend your after-life? Worrying about me?
Mom: Yes. And don’t drink too much at Thor’s bachelor party either.
Me: Some things never change, do they?
Mom: You certainly don’t (wink face.)
Me: So what’s going on here? Can we do this again? Are you some figment of my imagination, a ghost, some religious phenomenon?
Mom: It’s hard to explain. I’m a part of you. You can ask me anything; talk to me whenever. Whether or not I respond is kind of up to you. But these dreams are just that. Dreams. If you really want to see me – look at your kids. Squeeze them tight and tell them about their granny KK. And when they smile – that’s me. At least a little part of me. The part that you get to hold onto and cherish, love and appreciate. Those beautiful, slow burning red sunsets – that’s me too. I’m not an owl – because that would be just stupid – but I’m lots of things around you. So remember that. I’m here, and I love you. And I’m watching all the dumb shit you do too, so try to be smarter.
Me: Can you make the Packers win a Superbowl?
Mom: No – but God is a fan so I’d say Title Town is in good hands.
Me: You know God???
Mom: Just kidding – I totally control the Packers. Get a job and we’ll talk.
Me: Deal. Hey, mom. It’s weird without you. Swing by dad and say hello. He could use the company.
Mom: I will. Be good my love. Say hi to the girls and everyone else. And tell Lucy thank you for all the flowers.
Me: Happy mother’s day mom. I love you.
Mom: Happy Mother’s day to Marie. She’s a good one. Make sure she knows that.
Me: I will.
— And to the rest of you moms, past and present – you’re special every day. Thank you. We love you.
–Mama’s Big Avocado