Total images: 9
Alert and oriented but largely silent, Bella needed her daughter Alia to repeat my questions to her about what she would like in her Dreamscape. Alia would then do her best to read her mother's mind, and suggest answers that Bella would consent to with her eyes. It appeared that Bella wanted to include Buccoo Reef and flowers from her native Trinidad. She wanted the best parts of her life in Coney Island. And she wanted apples worked in somehow (after a deceased half sister named Apple). But the biggest surprise was that she had told her daughter years ago about her long-standing desire to be a flight attendant. Later, Alia was thrilled to discover that this was a secret that her mother shared with her and no one else. (Later Alia would tell me that my asking her about creative decisions surely had made her mother feel 'My daughter will be ok.' )
Luckily, I was able to locate photos of three flight attendants posing in front of a Caribbean Airlines plane, allowing me to compose a Dreamscape that cast Bella, Alia and Bella's sister as flight attendants. Seeing Bella's preferred story brought to life, Alia later recalled: "Anyone can take a photo, but this was a condensed version of a life, another moment in time, on another level." Months later she acknowledged that the process was helping her realize "Mom will not be there one day," and "that her life meant something."
After Bella died, Alia called me, and confessed that she was uncomfortable seeing her aunt's face in her Dreamscape, and asked if I could remove it -which I did. I solved the problem by repositioning the hummingbird mascot of Caribbean Airlines over the third stewardess's face in place of the aunt's face. While Alia ultimately chose not to attend a Jehovah's Witness memorial for her mother, she told me that the modified Dreamscape served as her own way of memorializing Mom "with no arguing, no drama."
Five months later, Alia told her hospice social worker, "Honestly, when I went through the interview with Nancy, maybe I wouldn't have even remembered Mom's dream about flying if it wasn't for the questions she asked. The portrait makes me think about the dreams my mom had."
It has also spurred Alia to think, "It's going to happen; it's inevitable: We all live. So what are we going to do with this life? I want to make her proud of me." Planning on returning to school, Alia says, "I can actually become a flight attendant. I'm seriously considering that. It would be my way of being closer to her." If and when she has a family of her own, Alia says "It will be good to introduce Mom's portrait to somebody who didn't know her."