Mama Nurys

For the past twenty-four hours, the gears in my brain have been turning non-stop trying to figure out what my last essay in this challenge would be about. Last night I even dreamt that I was on a journey to discover what I was supposed to write about. It was a strange fragmented dream, reminiscent of a requiem.

The backdrop was a locked up cemetery with iron black gates that matched the color of the sky behind a scattering of stars. I found myself in a house at the top of a hill that overlooked the cemetery. I was sitting at a four-person kitchen table with my mother, my sister and my deceased grandmother, the one whose face I carry. My maternal grandmother doesn’t bother to call me by my first name or new name. She calls me by my paternal grandmother’s name. “Nurys” she smiles and croaks when she sees my face. It started as a joke but given the dementia, I suspect she now thinks I am Nurys reincarnate.

Back to my dream. I sat at this table, leaning my elbows into the thick-vinyl plastic that covered the fruit adorned tablecloth, with three of the most important women in my life, frantic because I was intuitively aware that my time with my grandmother was limited. I took out a single photograph that I had blown up on my computer and showed it to her. I rotated between two parts of the picture with the click of my mousepad.

One was me in my teenage years and the other was my mother in the same place, at the same time, in her teenage years. It looked as though we were in front of a cottage in Guanajuma. There were no finished roads, just dirt paths and each of us, in our own corner of the same picture smiled. Buried in the background was an indigenous man cloaked in a shawl of bright oranges and mud browns.

“Is this your abuelo?” I asked her feverish with the awareness that there was an hourglass counting down the seconds until she vanished and returned to the grave. My mother and sister continued at the table, talking and laughing as though there was no other pressing matter at hand. They couldn’t see Mama Nurys.

Mama didn’t answer my questions about our bloodline. She didn’t deny or confirm my suspicions about the man in the background of the picture where Mami and I stood at the same age, at the same time, in the same place.

And then she was gone. Without warning, we were no longer at the table and I was climbing over the iron black gates into the cemetery – a woman on a mission.

I sat with that dream this morning for a few moments before pulling out my laptop. I knew I had to write about it. I don’t believe in coincidence.

My dream interpretation research assumes that dreaming of a dead person is a sign of unexpected news or changes in life. Some dream interpretation sites advised me to follow whatever advice the deceased person gave. The thing about it is … Mama never spoke a single word. She just smiled and nodded her head as I showed her the photograph.

I’ve decided to interpret my dream as Mama affirming my work for the past year, both my writing and my chronicling of the Sanchez ancestry. The twinkle in her eye was all the message I needed, “Sigue mi’ja. You have a ways to go, but you’re on the right track. I’m proud of you” I imagine her saying.

“Nuris” has an Arabic origin that means light. So it is with the blessing of my grandmother, the woman whose face and light I carry, that I will say goodbye to 2017 and trek into the New Year. There is still much work to be done.


***This is essay 52 in the #52essays2017 challenge created by Vanessa Mártir.

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