Well, to be perfectly honest, Jeff woke me up. It was the second time in the span of about two weeks when I've cried in my sleep and Jeff has woken me up, worried and saying, "It's okay, Bran! Wake up!" And so I do, but I'm still sad. My cheeks are wet and I've been crying in that awful way that I do (hyperventilating is one way to describe it). Only I've been sleeping.
It's weird, I know. And it's not my favorite.
I had another memory today about waking up. Let me start the story by saying that my mother is a strong woman. I remember her crying rarely when I was growing up. She'd reach the edge that every mother knows so well and go cry in the shower. And now I absolutely understand those moments and feel amazed she didn't have more of them. But I have a memory of waking up to seeing my mother crying over me. It was after my first year of college. I'm one of those unlucky people who had braces and all that kind of trouble when I was young. (Though I'm very thankful for the braces, mind you!) Anyway, after my first year of college, my orthodontist and oral surgeon decided it was time for me to have surgery to correct my open bite (that's just lingo for all the stuff that was wrong with my mouth). I already had braces. I would have surgery and my lower jaw would be broken and reset correctly and my mouth would be sort of wired shut for almost six weeks.
It was a big deal for me.
I was very hungry for a long time.
Back to the surgery. I woke up in the hospital after surgery, feeling extremely groggy and in pain and swollen and like I couldn't talk. And my mom came rushing up to me. I suppose the sight of me was what brought on the tears. I was very swollen, bruised of course, wired shut--basically puffy and not pretty. And I'm groaning like Frankenstein because I haven't gotten the hang of talking without opening my mouth yet. It was a rough day.
My mom leans over me, kissing my forehead and crying, and rubbing my arms and telling me it's going to be okay. She was saying all the soothing things mothers say.
For some reason, I love that memory. (Minus the Frankenstein image.)
Like I said, my mom is a strong woman. A lot of her responses are along the lines of "You're a woman of good stock. You can do this" (as I whimper and feel like maybe I didn't get the good-stock genes. In fact, I'm not really sure that Sara or Laura got them either). But that day, she saw me hurting and she just started crying. It felt comforting to have someone acknowledge the pain. Not brush it off with immediate platitudes of 'chin up, you've got this.' Just to see the hurt and cry, because it hurts them too. To wake up and feel awful and know that I look as awful as I feel because my mother is crying. But still--to wake up to pain and feel absolutely loved and adored even at such a time.
It's the gift of being loved by your mother.
It's one of the very best gifts of all.
I don't want to forget that memory. I want to store it in my parenting file. There will be days when my kids are hurting and they'll need me to cry with them. It's my privilege.
You know what helps? Sharing the pain with each other. Jeff has told me at least three times today (in a very gentle, concerned voice), "It was only a dream, Bran. Are you okay?"
I am. But I'm really glad you asked.