I had a crazy dream last night.
In my dream we were a young family again and our three children were just adolescents. I was feeling emotionally devastated because I had just recently been informed of my fatal diagnosis where the treatment required was brutal and painful and would make me very, very sick, with no guarantees of improvement.
I looked online for alternative medicine and found a site that advertised a fleet of boats that were titled “Watery Graves” where anyone who had a terminal illness could make a reservation to be brought out to sea and just dropped in. It had been listed as a “Cheap Leap” and went on to read that it was the perfect solution to those people who did not want to suffer before they died.
As the dream continued, I told my husband and children about it and they were appalled, but understood my reasoning and were determined to allow me my one last wish. They were all sitting around the room trying to let this sink into their psych, when I told them I was going to go check out the boat. They were really sad but resigned with what I wanted to do.
I went to the pier where the boat was docked, and was told that my departure was leaving in a couple of minutes and I had to board the boat or forfeit my entire down payment which had been a large sum of money, so I got on the ship.
There were many passengers, and I managed to find my way to the front bow of the boat. I felt the cold wind whipping against my face, and I could feel my heart drumming against my chest as the boat gained speed and bounced across large waves that had begun to roll and churn in an angry fashion. I knew this was the last leg of my journey on earth and now I wasn’t so sure I had made the right decision.
Just then, several trios of porpoises leaped out of the water right in front of the bow of the boat and gracefully reentered the ocean in a perfectly synchronized fashion. “How beautiful they are” I thought, and then realized they may well be the welcoming committee to heaven. My heart slowed down a bit as I took in the beauty of the moment and realized that going to heaven was not something to be feared, but embraced.
I felt a hand on my elbow when a soft voice said “It is your time now, come with me”. This statement filled me with terror and dread because I suddenly realized I wasn’t ready to die right now. I knew I was going to die because the Dr. had said I was terminal, but I realized that if I took the situation into my own hands, and took my life early, I was really cheating myself and my family of time together. Besides, what if somehow, miraculously, I would beat the odds? I didn’t know what was in the future so why should I end my life prematurely? Sure, there would be pain with treatment, but it was nothing compared to the pain I would inflict on me and my family by doing this.
I turned to the Captain and said, “I have decided I don’t want to do this anymore”. He smiled and said “this change of heart happens more often than you think. It is really o.k. Just go inside until the others have fulfilled their wishes and we will bring you back to shore.”
Then the dream ended and I woke up. I was quite unnerved by it because it had felt so real. It felt real and was extremely stressful to think of myself in that situation, yet so many people find themselves being given a diagnosis with an expiration date on the end of it. These kind of circumstances are very jarring and often require a quick answer from the patient about how to proceed while our brains are still spinning with the unexpected news.
I think my dream was brought about by one too many reports of yet another friend dying. As we age the sum totals on the list gets larger, of course, but also as we age, more and more reports come to us at an ever increasing speed, and it is unsettling to say the least.
We have known many people in our lifetime because we have moved so many times. We have met many people through work, school, neighborhoods, kids, promotions and then there are the many extended family members too. Because the number of people we know are many, so too are the amount of passing’s. When we are young, we are always shocked by someone dying before their time but we do not really relate to it. However when we are old, we almost feel like we are standing at the entrance to a large dark forest full of monsters..
The entrance to the forest represents our entrance to old age and the dark forest represents our fears of what is ahead. The monsters represent what going to “get us” in the health department to cause us to die someday. But, also in the forest there is an ever present gleam of sunshine that threads its way down to light our path and that light is God. So we look where the light leads us and follow the path and pray that all will be according to God’s will.
Yet, again, we received word about someone younger than us who has died this past week and we add him to our list while reminding ourselves to not be distracted by the monsters in the woods. We will keep our eye on the lighted path and pray God will stay with us until our time is up. In the meantime, we will let God be in charge of when that will be.