Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What does it all Mean? . . . The Dream

Since my diagnosis of gallbladder cancer a year ago, I have wondered at the meaning of my disease, of any disease for the person affected. Although I haven't written about meaning in the blog before, the question of meaning has been a persistent one. Last year, newly diagnosed, I wondered "Why me?" and "Why have I gotten a cancer with such a poor prognosis?" I have been acutely aware that with a diagnosis of a cancer that was more treatable, with better statistics for long term survival, I would have thrown myself into making sure that I was one of the survivors. But under all of this, the question about meaning.

One year ago today, the last night I was hospitalized after my surgery, I had a dream, a dream that offered hope and that framed a lot of this past year of struggle with my diagnosis and my disease. Here is my dream:

"In the dream, I woke to a pain in my side (like a pain I'd felt before since the surgery), but the pain was more focused and so both less and more intense. I was being encouraged not to move, but to lie still while I was ministered to. Then I was introduced into a 'chamber' (like a showroom with glass windows, or an old fashioned room with large stone chunks making up the walls, feeling almost medieval). In the room, four other beings lay as I did in a hospital bed that was more than a hospital bed. Each of us appeared radiant, transparent. To our right side, a small decorative decanter/glass beaker held this radiant spot of pain, some ethereal organ. Mine was damaged, so I was participating for healing, but the others had offered their small organs as sacrifice to others. They had known at the beginning that they were offering five days of their time to lie absolutely still, in this transcendent place. The dream did not offer a promise of healing of the body to me and to others who would come along in need of healing. Rather, the feeling of the dream is that we all want our suffering to be meaningful. We don't want to suffer without meaning.

In the dream, this time spent in holy, voluntary sacrifice offered peace to all and a promise that our suffering has meaning. Not what it means. But that it has meaning."

The dream brought me such peace. I have never doubted that it was divinely inspired, and that God was speaking to me of not being alone on my journey, but joined by other beings who sought to be of service. And, while I think a lot about the meaning of my suffering, I also remember that whether or not I know what it means, I don't doubt that it has meaning. I still wish that life had dealt me a different hand. I didn't choose to have cancer, never envisioned it in my life's path, and wish I were dealing with different life challenges at this point. But there it is. Given the hand dealt, my choice is how I deal with it, and how I make meaning out of this terminal diagnosis, this end of life coming before I'd ever envisioned it.


Anonymous said...

i love you!!

your writing and life and honesty ignites me!!!

meaning is life to me. usually i want it as "the answer"; "what meaning is this??" but in the biggest parts of the ride of life, i dont' have an answer but that it is true and divine purpose comforts me HUGELY.

when i studied the theory of relativity i tried many times to "get it" and watched it gallop right over my head. i TRIED but couln't grasp it. and yet it is true.

suffering is a neutral term also. there is so much present in life AND my god is love. it is.

cya soon hon

in love, light, laughter, chocolate, and dancing fairies on your belly,


Teresa Hartman said...

thank you for your dream, Lynne. I have caught a huge load of comfort from it. Over the year since my diagnosis, I have had a few dreams, but for some reason don't remember much, other than a feeling that everything is right, everything will be ok. That feeling keeps up with me well into the next day, which is a huge comfort. My vision for whatever I have left in this life is to stay connected to each other, whether through actions or words. Your words are golden - thank you for sharing yourself this way.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the most eloquent reflection on the meaning of cancer that I've ever read. It is somehow both cognizant of the reality of cancer, the mystery of suffering, and the freedom we have to choose to deal with it how we choose.

Hope your trip is peaceful and fun.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne,

your words are golden! Thank you for sharing yourself this way....

easy for me to say I know...but your dark night of the soul....which to me encompasses so much more than simply the day of your diagnosis...but also includes your entire journey of learning how to live with terminal cancer....

feels like a divinely inspired dance to me...learning how to let your light shine as you navigate this journey of letting go...while daring to courageously and honestly give expression to your feelings and continue the work of grieving your many losses....as you still find ways to stand in the midst of flames...and dance....

yours is a sacred journey Lynne!...one you never asked for...and one undoubtedly you would rather not have to walk...(and certainly one we would rather not have you have to walk)...

but a sacred journey nonetheless...filled with so much meaning...and a healing connection for others...

your writing is inspired and enflamed with the spirit of truth...which although it may not always feel good...always brings deeper insight and healing...for others.

You are an amazing woman, Lynne...I hope you are able to breathe in the grace that seeks to uphold you as you get ready to head to Ptown for some time with Patty.

You are a blessing!...May you be deeply blessed...by the flames of love...and light...and truth.

With Grace and Love,


Anonymous said...

Beautiful, yet so vulnerable. Lynne, thank you for sharing so much of yourself. I have so many thoughts about what you wrote, but am unable to put them to paper right now. Want you to know you're on my mind, Jamie

Anonymous said...

I have had no words to offer you in quite some time. Your powerful words have left me mute.
You have given so much to all of us who read your words.
Thank You.
Susan H.

Anonymous said...

hmmm...ok ....I will go there with you, Lynne...although....that's a pretty far-out dream !! (said with raised eyebrows and incredulous look on my face ) Amazing what a little surgery and meds do to the technicolor dreams we have, isn't it??(wry grin)
I am not one who knows much about decifering the meaning of dreams...although...I've had some doozies and my theories of where they came from.
I am not sure if you can derive meaning out of this whole journey of death except to reflect on exactly what you mentioned in the end of your blog.....how you deal with the lot your dealt is no doubt a part of the meaning of not your death.....but your LIFE!
You aren't dead yet....none of us are...and none of us knows when the time in which our heart stops beating will be....could be while I'm out mucking stalls....although...that would have to be some sort of sick joke that the divine province plays on me....the reticent zza zza gabor farm girl!!...so maybe not the meaning of death and dying...but rather....I find the bigger question is.....why is it that you have been given the chance...or...as some might see it...the albatross...of KNOWING that your life is ending now...not knowing when....not knowing if you have years, or months...or weeks.
There is a reason for that, my friend, dear, wonderful teacher and painter of words!
Perhaps you are fulfilling your meaning...your life-gift...just by taking this walk with us.
With any luck....it will be a long, long hike....with much laughter,introspection and revelation.
I wish you many many more words.
with love,

Anonymous said...

Dear Lynne,

Today I was struck by the incredible insights that your blog inspires in others. You not only have a circle of caring friends, you have a circle of friends gifted with the ability to communicate ideas. As Paula said, "your writing and life and honesty ignites me" -- and all of us. We would willing lie on a bed beside you and give you some part of ourselves to lengthen your life. And at the very least we will continue to respond to your blog and let you know that we are out here routing for you.

Much love,