This year I’ve neglected Zoe’s garden, going on holiday, forgetting to water it, not weeding very often, and yet it’s still putting on an exuberant display in shades of purple and white annuals, pink and red roses for my last summer here.
When I do remember to water it, in the long evening shadows, Charlie Cat often comes to me, dodging the spray to wind himself around my legs and ask for cuddles. Zoe would often “help” me water the garden. I wasn’t allowed to spray her with the hose, but apparently she was allowed to spray me. It’s a peaceful feeling, seeing the garden doing so well, a small creature for company, as I get ready to leave it behind.
But last night, a dream. Before this, I’ve only had two dreams of Zoe since she died. They were comforting dreams, but this one is not. Following on from another, jumbled, half remembered dream, the scene comes into clear focus.
She is a little baby, just a few months old, wearing a terrycloth onesie but sitting in a chair and able to speak. There has been in the background of the jumbled dream a wedding.
“Don’t get married” is all she pleads. Or maybe it’s “don’t get married again.”
I pick her up in my arms, feel that top heavy baby weight of her against my chest. “Of course I’ll never get married again.” She begins to sob, big girl sobs that I haven’t heard since I held her nearly five year old self in just this way at her grandfather’s funeral. I sob with her, my heart stretching and tearing a tiny bit more with each shared heaving exhalation, not a metaphorical dream hurt, a real world ache in my chest that lingers when I wake.
I know this dream is not about marriage, it’s about me staying true to her. Is it my guilt about leaving the house where she lived most of her life? Have I willfully pushed away the fear, the misgivings? By packing up almost all of her things, giving some of them away, am I leaving her behind? “Moving on” as some people would frame it. Is it my fear that if I give a part of my heart to anyone else I am betraying her?
Things and places are not people, are not memories, but they can be a strong evocation of memory. My conscious mind knows that leaving here, having new people in my life, new loves, choosing to live even, will never diminish my fierce mother love for Zoe. She is with me always. But like everyone who has lost someone, I fear the memories fading, the small moments disappearing. That very finite, far too short six and a half years becoming dimmer by degrees. It’s probably inevitable they will. Leaving this house, making other choices and changes in my life, are painful reminders of that.
New places, new people; my heart says I will never leave you behind baby girl. It’s me and you kid, it’s you and me. Always has been, always will be. Come with me.