It was present day for me. But one look around my childhood living room told me it was still 1988 in there. I was kneeling backwards on the old, 1970s style couch, looking out the window at the side yard. We called this part of the yard The Garden. The perimeter of the property had green chain-link, but the side yard of our corner property had a white picket fence separating my mother's flower garden from the area where the kids played.
The garden was in full bloom. Tiger lilies, black-eyed Susans, daisies, rose bushes. There were plenty of other things I could never commit the names of to my memory. But they were there, as they always were.
My mother walked towards the window. How could this be? She's dead. She shouldn't be here. She looked like the house did, like it was 1988. She was 40.
I screamed at her. I pounded on the glass window to get her attention. Tears pouring from my eyes, tears of joy to see her again, so young and healthy, so vibrant. This was the only time in her life she looked this way. This was the only time she almost seemed happy. There was hope then.
I kept screaming, crying, pounding. I reacted as though there was an immovable object keeping me from her. I reacted as though her death was between us.
"Open the window, silly," she said sweetly as she smiled, crow's feet showing around her eyes.
I opened the window and it stayed up. I didn't have to use the piece of wood to hold it like I usually did. I opened the old, dusty metal screen. I reached out for her, calling out through tears, "Mommy! Mommy!"
I don't ever remember calling her Mommy. By 1988, I was 12. I called her Ma. Maybe Mom sometimes. Never Mommy.
She reached out for me, too. Our fingertips touched, then our hands. I slid my arm up, holding her wrist. Her gold bracelet draped over my fingers.
We stayed like that for a moment. Our eyes met. She looked at me with kindness and love in her eyes. It seemed she was telling me things were OK. Or would be OK. It was reassuring.
Damn it, she never looked at me like that when she was alive. Never.
She loosened her grip on me. I tried desperately to hang on, leaning my body out of the window, reaching with my other hand.
It was no use. She faded away.
I sobbed and called out for her. She was gone.
Then I woke up, my pillow drenched.
I had this dream a few weeks ago. I dream about my mom at that age and of being in my childhood home often. I'm always my present age. I usually know, even in the dream, that it isn't real and that grown-up me doesn't belong in that house.
My mom would have turned 64 today.