Warning -- this gripping story is not for the faint of heart... but I am happy to announce that I have persuaded Nurit Henig to send us a wonderful new posting for Personal Histories.
THE MOTHER OF THE DREAMS
By Nurit Henig
Her childhood has not been more miserable than other children’s, except for the dreams that she remembers to this day, as she listens to her own children’s dreams and is unable to tell them about hers.
She remembers broken images, where she is abandoned, lost, coming home to a locked door, losing her book bag or being severely scolded by her teacher. Then in high school, during puberty, she died and was resurrected almost every night, until she was afraid to fall asleep. But the worst nightmare was “The Operating Room Dream” which appeared one night and stayed with her for years.
The dream repeated itself, dozens of times, with horrifying exactitude. She is lying on her back in the operating room, always the same cold operating room, gleaming white. The clock shows "almost midnight,” always the same hour, “almost midnight…” Faces covered by masks exposing only pairs of eyes approach and surround her. She cannot identify them, except for two eyes, which are her mother’s eyes. Black, piercing, topped with penciled brows.
She is certain that her mother has decided to operate and she requests,
“Mom, don’t start before I fall asleep.”
She asks again,
“Wait until I fall asleep.”
The pairs of eyes around are smiling mockingly, except for the mother’s eyes. The anesthetic liquid drips from the vein in her hand onto the sheet and does not penetrate her body. She wants to fall asleep but doesn’t succeed
“Do you hear, Mom, don’t cut, wait until I fall asleep… I can’t manage to sleep.”
She begs again, but it is obvious to her that the mother is in a hurry, her time is short and her intentions are not clear…
The clock rings“midnight.” She notices, through the mask, a satisfied smile on the mother’s face, and then she feels the knife’s blade on her skin and the horrible pain of the cut that is slicing her open through her abdomen… and she wakes up.
Over the years, she taught herself to identify the dream and not fear it. She let her mother come near her in the dream and would mock her in her heart.
“You will not succeed in killing me because it’s only a dream and I will wake up shortly.”
Eventually, when she solved the meaning of the dream, she hoped to get rid of it, but it did not let go. Later she married and it sank into her subconscious and disappeared.
During the ninth month of her pregnancy, in the middle of the night, she was brought, bleeding, to the operation room.
A cold, white, gleaming room. She knew it well. A huge round lamp with many blubs blinded her from above. The clock in front of her showed five o’clock. Unknown faces surrounded her. She grew weaker, her consciousness faded and the tranquilizers given to her brought the forgotten dream from the depth of her memory.
She is in the operating room, her husband by her side, promising her that the baby is alive and breathing. Kind nurses smile at her and try to calm her down.
“Listen to his pulse, it’s strong and rhythmical.”
She feels loved and confident and soon she would be a mother.
“Is this a dream or reality?”
She did not know. A familiar voice enters the room and demands to have a space cleared for it. The voice whispers something in her ear and she opens her eyes and discovers a familiar face. Her mother’s small, black eyes pierce her as they look. She screams in terror.
“Wait until I fall asleep. Mom, don’t start before I sleep.”
But with the cold touch of the knife on her stomach she faints and sinks into a deep sleep.
When she woke up after about an hour, she found her husband by her side, kissing her and thanking her with tears in his eyes for the birth of their first son. The mother was not visible in the room, and the anesthetist, who did not know her, told her that she never stopped asking, while sleeping, not to cut until she fell asleep and he added
“Who had hurt you so much ??
She was silent and in her heart thanked her husband who did not push her to answer. About seven o’clock in the evening, her parents arrived, the mother elegantly dressed, all happiness and tears, asking about her grandson and wishing to see him. When she left for the baby nursery, the father confessed that he did not know a thing until he came back from work in the evening, and the husband did not tell her that he had telephoned the mother at eight o’clock in the morning to congratulate her for being the grandmother of a healthy baby boy, and asked her to hurry up there.
Like life, the dreams faded. The mother became older and weaker. She followed the birth of her other grandchildren in the mother’s dreams, in the operating rooms, under the blinding lights and the clock in front, but she did not hold the knife, only looked from the side, as if she had relinquished her place.
She returned to visit her in the dream on the night before a trip to London, when they took their younger daughter for a medical consultation. She was her favorite grandchild. When she fell asleep during the flight, the mother reappeared in the dream, standing in front of the operating room but not coming in.
She woke up when the plane started to land and wondered about her mother’s health.
They came back encouraged by what the doctors said, left the children with their grandmother and traveled abroad to celebrate their twentieth anniversary.
In the mornings, waking up in strange rooms, she did not remember her dreams, even though she knew she had been dreaming.
The trip passed without anxiety or fear of the future, only peace and quiet and acceptance of what is and a bit of joy and comfort given by the vacation.
On the last night before returning home, she telephoned home but no one answered. At her parents’ house she left a message on the answering machine requesting that they return her call, but she did not hear from them before she fell asleep.
In her dream, she is in an operating room, wearing something white. The clock shows “almost midnight.”Two nurses enter the room, then her husband, supporting her father. The children stand near the monitor, looking at the lifeless flat line, crying. She approaches the bed. The mother lies lifeless; her small black eyes wide open. The clock rings “midnight.”
“It’s time to begin,”
She is holding the knife and then she hears her father’s whisper
“No need anymore, she is dead.”
And he closes the mother’s eyes.
She woke up and awakened her husband.
Early, before dawn, she heard her father’s voice on the telephone, announcing that her mother died in her sleep.