Monday, May 1, 2023

Light from a Lighthouse

 When doctors first gave me two years to live, my medical chart showed “Christianity” as my denomination. This dates back to when my first son passed away. I still remember selecting a religion when staff boasted a pastor who could instantaneously come pray for my baby. But my son didn’t live—no matter how many preachers begged God. I guess Heaven needed him more. 

That happened nearly two decades ago, and now doctors have told me it’s my turn to die … 

Seeing the shock on my face after this initial diagnosis, specialists sent a parson to my room.

I twiddled my thumbs as the on-site pastor doomed my soul to hell. “What do you mean, you don’t believe Jesus was the son of God?”

“I knew I should’ve lied,” I said because condemnation—especially when you’re facing an expiration date—feels markedly worse than lying to a pastor. 

I remained hospitalized for nearly a month, and over that time several Christian clerics spoke with me. Each voiced concerns about eternal torment, but despite their urgings, I couldn’t force myself to believe in Christianity.

After finally getting discharged from the hospital, I had a strange new view on life and death—so close I could almost feel it creeping up on me. I knew how I would die; I just didn’t know when. This left me in doubt about my past regrets along with future goals, but I did know one thing for certain, I didn’t want to spend my final days shackled to condemnation over a difference of beliefs. 

Over the next two years, I visited various places of worship for different religions. I sought prayers from Buddhists, spiritualists, monks, and so-called heathens. I especially reveled in time at synagogues with newfound Jewish friends who became like family and showed me joy in simplicities—and food. Although I found a peace among Jewish culture and something that finally satiated my desire to feel even closer to my creator, the whole time, I kept wanting to visit a spiritual healer named Dixie Nowell.

Dixie takes a holistic approach to healing, wielding oils, music, and books that detail information from ancient texts. A dear friend, paid for me to see her after my divorce, and I genuinely couldn’t believe how much better I felt about life after talking with her.

“Can I come see you?” I asked her. “I’d also like to bring one of my daughters, Sky.”

My relationship with Sky has deepened in a way that is truly astounding. I’m not sure if it’s the terminal diagnosis, the woman she’s grown to be, or both, but we’ve gotten so close in the past year, and I find myself extra grateful to be living on “bonus time.” I’ve already made it five months longer than doctors expected, and although I’m still fighting for more years above ground, I can’t imagine missing these recent months with my loved ones. They’ve held some of the most profound experiences of my entire lifetime.

Dixie quickly responded to my query. “Yes! And come stay with me.”

I’ve had so many people altruistically offer for me to spend the night at their homes—which are close to the cancer center in Utah—but I rarely do it, not wanting to impose. Yet, for some reason I agreed, feeling almost like we needed to stay with Dixie. This might sound hokey or ridiculous, but the night before we left for more cancer treatments and to see Dixie in Eden, I dreamed about a beautiful lighthouse with a blinding light shooting through the windows. It left me feeling pure and flawless despite illness, something I haven’t felt since long before this whole ordeal began.

What Dixie gave me and Sky is hard to put into words. She spoke with both of us for hours and hours, and with each moment that passed, I somehow felt my load lighten. “You’re changing so many lives,” she said to me. “I read your posts. And I love how you write.”

“That—well, that means so much.” Tears filled my eyes when she shared this sentiment about me—but especially when she spoke to Sky. I watched as my beautiful, vibrant 18-year-old transformed from carrying worries about losing her mom to appearing hopeful that everything will end the way it’s supposed to. There’s nothing more important to a mother than seeing that her children are okay. And, I think half of Dixie’s gift is being a life coach; the other half is building others up to the brim with positivity and kindness.

We finally went into the healing room, and as Sky and I closed our eyes to meditate, I felt so much joy beating from my heart. Sure, I don’t know how much longer I truly have or how excruciating my cancerous death may ultimately be, but I am trying my hardest to remain present and hopeful. I’m enjoying every minute, taking opportunities to experience new things and cherishing time with the people I love the most. The longer I sat meditating, it almost seemed as if my dream about the lighthouse had been for this moment, that the sun shone through MY soul and God really filled me with such light and love. I so hoped Sky and Dixie felt the same.

After the session ended, Sky practically glowed and hugged me. “Thank you for bringing me here, Mama. I’m so glad I got to meet Dixie and to experience this with you.”

Dixie smiled, and I realized she must’ve heard similar words a thousand times.

“Let me show you to your room.”

I gingerly walked down the stairs, while Sky and Dixie’s inspiring son brought our luggage down. “Here it is!” Dixie beamed.

I gaped at the wall, completely dumbfounded and momentarily unable to speak because in the corner—large and impressive—hung a striking picture of a lighthouse with light shining directly through the upper windows.

“Is everything okay?” Dixie asked, taking a step closer to me. 

“Ye—yes. I’m just so … grateful for your generosity. And … your friendship.” I paused, willing her to know how much it all meant to me and Sky. “Thank you for letting us stay here, Dixie.” I forced my voice to remain steady and strong. “Your kindness … means far more than you might know.”

The next day, I received test results from earlier that week. They showed a new tumor.

“This tells us once again, that unless there is some freak accident, you will die from melanoma.”

I sighed and wracked my thoughts from something positive to say since I’ve made it my personal vendetta to try shocking the hell out of my doctor. “At least that gives me a good excuse to buy a new dress,” I finally blurted. “How can my husband get mad when I tell him I got a new dress AND a tumor.” 

The line stayed quiet, and I didn’t mean to, but I actually broke out laughing. 

“You’re taking this news awfully well,” the doctor said, dumbfounded.

Yes. I’d done it again! Bwa-ha-ha! “I had the most amazing experience this week,” I admitted. “It put everything in perspective, and I’m grateful to be here at all. I can’t believe I actually exist. It’s hard to even fathom that I’ve lived longer than expected. I can’t believe I got to have a family, experience love, see the beauty of our world. Death is just part of the bargain.” I sighed. 

“You … Elisa … Sometimes you amaze me,” she said. 

“Same to you. Thank you for extending my life,” I replied. And after I hung up the phone, my thoughts returned to that unforgettable lighthouse, the one with the light shooting straight through the upper windows. 

“Dear God,” I silently prayed. “I hope you love me. If you do and you can find the time, can you please give me strength to get through the next leg of this journey.” And then I sat down … and thinking about the future, I cried.

1 comment:

  1. God heard you and He calls you daughter. John 3:16 God so loved you He sent his son that whosoever would believe in Jesus would have eternal life. Ask Jesus to be your savior, you are a sinner saved by grace and Jesus died for those sins. Ask Him to come into your Heart and you will have eternal life.