I’ve always had strange dreams—for as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I didn’t understand them. But by the time I hit middle school, I knew they were something special. “If there’s one thing I hate,” my best friend said at lunch one day, “it’s hearing about people’s dreams. Booo-ring!”
How could anyone say that? Even as a teenager, I felt dreams showed a path to the soul. I could go to sleep contemplating problems, and the answer would come in a dream. One time I stressed about what to sew for a contest and even dreamed up an incredible pattern. Our subconsciousness can be such a gift!
Anyway, now that I have cancer, my problems have changed. Instead of wondering what to sew for a contest or how to tie up loose plot lines for a novel, I’m asking humanity’s oldest questions: What’s the point of life? What’s the point of MY life? What happens after I die? Where did it all begin? And what gives a life meaning?
Surprisingly, I’ve gone to sleep asking these questions and actually gotten answers. Yes, it’s mostly allegorical and a bit confusing. Several of the dreams have someone who claims to be God right before they reveal an amazing truth. Now, do I really think God is coming to me in dreams? Probably not. But at least I’m feeling peace about a lot of issues as I’ve mulled mortality, sickness, and the meaning of life.
Right before my surgery last week, I thought about all of this. “What is the point—and why am I still here?” I thought. Oncologists are starting to say I actually might beat this. Yet, other patients—my friends who had much better diagnoses—have died while I’m still here. Maybe I’m having survivor’s remorse. I want to live, but I feel so badly for the people who have died.
Anyway, I went to sleep and had one of the most powerful dreams I’ve ever had. I won’t go into full detail except to say this: In my dream every person started life with a brilliant light burning inside of them. When they were positive, the light would burn even brighter. But when they were negative, the light would lessen.
“Many people have forgotten their God-given spark,” a woman said in the dream. “We each have it, but it’s so easy to be negative. And sometimes people’s lights go out. If you say or do something negative, you must balance it AT LEAST with the equal amount of positive. But people forget to nurture their light. Your purpose, Elisa, is quite simple. You must remind people that it’s not worth being negative because it leads to darkness. Simply share your perspective and help people keep their flames burning.”
I knew the dream would change my life. And several days after my surgery, I kept thinking about it—especially on one specific occasion. Mike brought me to a store, but the pain in my leg from muscle atrophy and severed nerves, made it nearly unbearable to walk. So—practically being a saint—Mike pushed me in a wheelchair.
At one point, he left me to look in one aisle as he went to another, and an eccentric woman came up to me. “Why in the world are you in a wheelchair?” she asked.
I’d done my hair up, fixed my makeup, and I wore a beautiful low-cut dress that framed my bust. I’m sure I looked “the vision of health.” Despite this—and her intrusive questions that I didn’t NEED to answer—I told her about stage four cancer, previous and recent surgeries, and extreme fatigue from ongoing treatments.
“I never would’ve guessed. You don’t look like you have cancer. You’re too young. I feel so bad for you.” Then she went on and on.
Not long after, when Mike brought me to the car, tears filled my eyes. “What’s wrong?” Mike asked.
And as I told him how much I hate being pitied—and about the nosy woman in aisle seven—I felt my inner light getting dimmer and dimmer.
“What is wrong with people?” Mike asked.
“Wait,” I said. “You remember my dream about everyone having a light inside them?”
“I feel mine dimming. It’s metaphorical, but you know what I mean. All of the negative things I just felt and said, I need to counteract it.” So I started thinking of positive things. “I must seem very approachable,” I said slowly. “The woman felt at home enough that she could even ask me what’s wrong. AND she said she’ll never forget me or my story because she’d been focusing on unimportant things.” And the more Mike and I said—both agreeing to only be positive—the more I felt my inner light turning from a dim flicker to a blaze.
Several days have passed, and I’ve remembered that flame and how I don’t want to be negative and jeopardize dimming my light over petty things. And I can say, this mindset has completely transformed how I feel inside.
A few people have thought my dreams are “odd” or “the product of stress.” But I’ve found the lessons in them to be quite profound. Whatever someone might think, I do hope this is my purpose: to help people see the best in themselves and to realize God’s put something special in all of us—a divine spark. If my dreams have taught me anything, it is that life is far too short to spend time dimming our lights with negativity. Why not dwell on the positive and let joy light the way?