I dreamed about my mother again last night. Belle was sleeping at a friend's house, so John was sleeping with me. It was one of those nights where I almost would have preferred to be alone, not because of anything John had done or said, or anything in particular really, I just felt like having some quiet. But the sleeping arrangements had been planned this way for a few weeks, so I just went along with it.

After he fell asleep, I sat on the couch for a little bit, then I went to my computer and started proofing some of my reports that were due next week. I found the usual three or four spelling issues and corrected them, before laying down to force myself to sleep. A few hours later, I was standing in my grandmother's kitchen,  ten years old. My aunt was with me, trying to convince me to eat something. My brother was somewhere else, probably in the room our grandmother kept for us when we stayed over. I was wearing a black dress and black shoes and black socks. Suddenly I remembered that we were at my mother's wake. Grandma Missy burst into the room at that moment, her long whispy white hair reaching out behind her. She was dressed like my Grandma Missy always dressed for special occasions: a fitted top with minimal ruffle hugging her still-attractive-enough body, over black slacks and her only good heels. Her hair was short and grey and spiked, and her eyes were tired. Missy burst into the room and went straight for the kitchen sink where she pulled the faucet on and started hosing down the same dishes she'd cleaned four times that day. I could see her shoulders shake, but didn't want to interrupt.

Mom had six sisters and two brothers. She was the oldest, named Anais, then Tobias(who stopped talking to everyone after mom's funeral. We don't know if he's still alive or not), Adelia (who had two daughters), Samantha (the one who ended up taking care of us when mom died), Neviah (who had a boy about nine years old), uncle Zeb, Aunt Ruby (who was coming out of college), Harriet (who was in her sophomore year in college) and finally Aunt Olive, (who was only three years older than Drake, and had only just finished high school). Aunt Adelia was in the living room, which adjoined to the kitchen. Her daughter, Chasity, who was two years older than my brother, was in the dining room with her sister Deena, which adjoined the kitchen on the other side. I could hear the girls talking.
"I just feel so bad for Drake and Dahlia," Said Chasity.
"I know, it must be rough," Replied Deena, "I don't know what I'd do if Mama died."
"I wonder where they're going to live now," Chasity added.
"Well, at least they won't have to watch out for Aunt Anais anymore."

I almost went to the other room and hit and my cousins for saying that kind of thing about my mother, but I was in a memory in a dream. I couldn't move my legs even though it would have felt good to punch them like I always wished I had. But no, I had to stay in the kitchen and wait for what I knew would happen next.

Grandma Missy turned back around from the sink and asked me to go up to her room with her, so I obeyed. She took me into her room and shut the door behind us. We sat on the bed, and my grandmother waited for a moment before finally saying what we came here to say.
"Dahlia, your mother was my first child. I don't think she and I always got along perfectly, but we did try. A lot of times she didn't think I was doing things quite right, and, hell, neither did I really. But we did try. Here's the thing, Dahlia, out of my kids, she was the one I was most expecting to be a spectacular mother, but out of my kids, she was the one who didn't let anyone see just how sick she was getting. You know that, though, right? That your mom was sick?"
I nodded my head, like I knew I was supposed to, thinking to myself, you're wrong. She wasn't sick. Just special.
"Well, even though she was sick, she still got to decide what she thought would be best for you kids should anything ever happen to her. Even though I would love to take you in and love you and give you everything you need, your mother has chosen your aunt Samantha. Your Aunt Sam is really a good woman, and I know she will do her best to take care of you and your brother. I trust her." This is where Gramma started to break up.
She coughed and sputtered for a moment before regaining composure as she said, "I trust her, but if you ever need anything, anything at all, you just ask, okay?"

I woke up next to John and realized, I had never seen or spoken to my grandmother since that day. I didn't even know if she was alive or not. Even after Aunt Sam died, I just packed up and left. I didn't even stop to wonder if I had any family left, even though there were so many people I should have cared about. I made a note to myself to start trying to research to find any alive the next time I was free.

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