After Billy conveyed Stephen’s explanation to me and apologized for not being able to marry me in the future, I became really sad because I realized that a part of my son’s innocence had been stolen. I didn’t know what to say or how to react, so I just stared at him through the tears which were quickly filling up in my eyes. Billy must have sensed my feelings. He immediately hugged me and said, “Don’t be sad, Mom. I won’t let you get old. I’m gonna become a scientist and invent some pill and make you be young forever. And then I’ll marry you!”
At that moment, I flashed back to my very own childhood. I used to say something very similar to my Mama (Hungarian Grandma), with whom I was very close. There were times when her face would express such sadness thatI couldn’t help but wrap my little arms around her and wonder why she was so unhappy. One day I asked her, and she said that she was sad because she wouldn’t see me grow up; she could feel that her time was near. Even at the fragile age of eight, I understood what Mama was referring to. That is when I promised her that I would become a doctor and come up with a miracle shot that would make her live forever (now I see that Billy is a lot more considerate than me; he knows how I hate needles, so he wants to invent a pill! Bless his little heart).
Unfortunately, I can’t stand the sight of blood, needles (well, sharp objects in general), and sick people make me sick. Clearly, I never became a doctor, nor did I invent anything even remotely close to a miracle shot, so I couldn’t make Mama live forever. She died of a heart-attack and since then, I have been reluctant to make any promises.
I cried for weeks after Mama’s death. She was a devoted Christian and always used to tell me that when I’m sad, lonely, or feel like I’m in trouble, I should just close my eyes and pray to God for guidance. I wasn’t brought up in a religious household or even a religious country (religion was forbidden back then in Czechoslovakia), but I always thought that there must be some sort of a higher power, which Mama called God, but for which I did not have a name yet. However, after this so-called God had taken my Mama away, I lost all belief, whether in God or whatever the higher power was called. Nevertheless, one day I did close my eyes and prayed—to Mama. I prayed for her to come back; I prayed for her to forgive me because I couldn’t make her live forever; and then I prayed for her to come back again.
That night I began to believe in spirits. Mama came to me in my dream, which was so vivid I wonder to this day whether it was a dream at all. She told me that she was at peace, happy, and healthy, that she was watching over me, and that every night, she rubbed my back just like she used to do when she was alive. And if I stopped crying and worrying about her or about what I’d promised her, I could even feel her around me.
I did. And slowly my sadness dissipated, and I knew that Mama would be with me forever.
I was wrong. Several months ago, I had yet another very vivid dream about Mama. She told me that it was her time to go. “But you died already!” I shouted in my dream. She smiled, kissed me, and said that this would be the last time I'd see her in my dream because it was her time for reincarnation. And when I woke up in the morning, with a pillow soaked from tears, I sensed that I needed to make my Mama immortal in this world to get some sort of a closure for myself and to prove that I can keep a promise.
Though I haven’t seen Mama in my dreams since that sad night when she said her last good-bye, my Mama lives eternally in the pages of my book and in this poem.
a misty cloud
she floats above the corner of my bed,
in all her goodness, watches me sleep
night after night.
Sometimes she gets closer,
and her presence wraps me
unlike my blanket.
Through fluttering eyelashes I peek
and dare not move.
To disturb her fragile being
would be my nightmare.
I breathe her in and out
to the rhythm of my thumping heart,
and my mind, clear of all distractions,
Does she know I see her?
As for Billy—I hope that he becomes a scientist or anything he wants to be. Being young forever isn’t such a bad idea, is it? I just don’t know that my old mind will have the wits to keep up with my young body.