“God, why am I sick?” I asked.
I dreamt about God again….
I sat at a stream, near a mountainous location I can no longer traverse in real life. I’ve struggled to exercise and build stamina, but I can’t walk more than a quarter of a mile without experiencing such extreme pain and fatigue. This area—my favorite spot up Slate Mountain Trail—is unfortunately, 3 miles in.
“God,” I repeated, “why am I sick? Why do I have terminal cancer? And why are we here, up Slate Mountain Trail?” It’s the most magical place on earth. Sometimes, when I’ve gotten radiation or scans, I’ve closed my eyes and imagined walking in that water with Mike and the kids, listening for sage hens, or looking for moose tracks like we used to. It’s just…so beautiful.
“You wanted to come here.” The voice echoed behind me.
“I did…but not in a dream.” Anger lit my words. Then I tried tempering my emotions because I felt as if some strange, animalistic being hovered behind me—and if I turned around, He’d kill me. And fearing this wild animal, I suddenly feared God. He was in control. He could end my life in a moment…or spare me.
“Sometimes my answer to prayer isn’t exactly what you want,” He said. “People want all of the good things. They want youth, knowledge, hindsight without the suffering. Elisa, you asked for refinement. You asked for growth.”
“I didn’t ask for cancer. I did NOT ask to leave before my kids could grow up and have families.” With my back still facing Him, I took off my sandals and dipped my toes into the stream’s water. It seemed a bit disrespectful, but I didn’t care. I no longer feared suffering. Doctors have already said my time is limited. This animal would do with me as He saw fit.
“The point of life is to learn and love. Learn to love others. Learn who you are and then learn to love yourself,” His voice soothed. “Understand faults and see them as opportunities to learn. Strive to live without harsh judgement of others or yourself. It’s about acceptance. Accepting life. Accepting death. Seeing nature for what it is. It’s quite comforting for most people when they finally ‘see’ it.”
I kicked some water and watched it move over my feet and far down the trail. Constant change showed in the bubbling stream. “I’m dying, God. This…THIS is hard to process. I feel like I’m getting ready for a huge vacation that I’ll never come back from. But I don’t want to go. They said I could have up to ten more years. I just want to know. I want to plan.”
“Elisa, no living human knows for certain the exact time that they’ll die. That’s unnatural. Enjoy what you can. Accept the moment.”
“Just accept my fate? It isn’t that easy.” I paused, finally asking something I’ve wondered since the dreams began. “Are you even God?”
“Does it matter?”
I thought about it and decided I wasn’t sure.
“You prayed for refinement. If this situation helps you grow, doesn’t that make you feel better, like there’s a reason?”
I remained obstinately silent.
“YOU want there to be a reason, Elisa.”
“No… Well, maybe. IS there a reason?”
“You’d have a hard time accepting if there isn’t. Maybe you’re not a pantheist after all.”
The being stepped closer to my back. I knew because I felt the heat of him on my neck, and his shadow, wavering in the stream, looked suspiciously like a massive bear—a deadly grizzly….
After I woke up, as I prepared to get more scans at the hospital last week, I kept wondering why I dreamed that God took the form of a bear and why it’s so damn important for me to feel like there’s a reason I’m sick. Would God making me sick really be better than me getting sick for no reason? I’m still not sure.
But regardless, I still have faith that there’s some sort of plan. I need to know there’s a reason my son died at the exact moment he did. I need to believe God is watching out for me. I guess I do NEED to believe there’s a reason I’m sick. Maybe I can use this to help people appreciate their health and their lives. Appreciate their ability to visit places like my Slate Mountain Trail.
Grizzly, cancer, weird dreams, and philosophy aside, I’ll make it through this somehow. What’s the worst that can happen? Yeah… Let’s not go there.
Right now I’m grateful for the dreams—and glad I’m writing them down. Thank you for letting me share them with you. I probably need to study them and their representation in my dream book. I’m dealing with a lot here.