Jay’s New Digs in the Land of Nod
by muddy feet mama
This picture hangs in our bedroom, an artifact passed down from Jay’s grandmother – or great-grandmother? It is a sweet Victorian print that – as artwork – makes little sense amongst our collection of ethnic textiles and modern paintings. A child safely sleeping in the woods, protected by the vigilant devotion of the family dog… we keep it on the wall above Jay’s dresser.
Jay has moved into the phase of death in which he sleeps most of the time. Seventeen hours of sleep doesn’t leave a lot of time for things in this world, but it’s my impression that plenty is getting done in the Land of Nod.
Unlike the dreams I’ve seen Jay have in the years we’ve shared a bed, his hours asleep seem filled with pleasant conversations. He pantomimes eating (something he’s given up in this world) – even brushes off his beard! His hands are folded in prayer, pointing and beckoning to folks he’s glad to see, writing with a stylus, typing something on his chest… he woke up for a split-second this morning with a smile on his face, said “Hey baby,” then went right back to where he had been, the place that smile originated.
About twenty years ago when my grandmother was dying she told my father (her oldest) that is was as if she was going to the Land of Nod. Raised in Ireland I assumed it was a remnant of her childhood. Now I think differently.
Jay has been extricating himself from this world for some time. He has been letting go of the things he can’t take with him, helping us adapt to life without him incrementally. Supposedly you can’t take anything with you when you go but I’m starting to question the certainty of that… maybe upon your last breath you leave with just your soul, but I get the feeling that Jay’s been packing and moving pretty actively these days. We know his heart is big enough to be in two places… I’m charmed to think his appetite is still with him somewhere he can enjoy it!
In this world he’s giving away his photographs and clothes, and in that world he is settling in – sharing embraces and breaking bread with his new neighbors. The Land of Nod. Is it heaven? Or, as Mormon missionaries would recognize, a kind of Missionary Training Center – a place between places? Jay has no memory of these seventeen hour dreams when he wakes up, but I can tell he is happy to be there. Which brings me comfort as I watch his body slip away.