I had a dream last night where I walked and talked with my friend Jen, who died over a year ago. She had a long up and down battle with cancer beforehand and it was hard to watch her go. It was an emotional time amongst our high school classmates as we sent cards and messages, gifts and facebook comments. She responded back and it was sad to slowly watch her drifting out, but we got in our goodbyes.
Last night in my dream she and I were walking in our hometown and I asked why she was here, alive now. She said that this was the "alternate ending" if she had been cured of the cancer for the time and was back to living her regular life.
|our family hike this weekend|
As she and I walked along the neighborhood streets some of our classmates approached. Both guys and girls made some frustrated comments in her direction. I couldn't make out distinct words but the feeling of their jeers were frustration that she wasn't giving enough back to them. They wanted the "original Jen" who did things for them that they were used to and made their lives more convenient and fun.
She told me that although she no longer had cancer it had changed her body and she was barely keeping herself going, so she couldn't give them what they needed. We walked slowly and talked gently about this change and about people's expectation.
I was still thinking about it as I awoke to my spasming arm and weak hand. I woke up to the remembrance that the lawn needed mowed. I told Casey: We need to talk. And then I totally submitted to my broken pride in announcing that I can no longer mow the lawn. It's hard to explain how it was one of my last bastion of normalness and independence.
Sure, I still cook and clean, and bathe and clothe, but that just makes me your everyday housewife :). And man, my pride wants to deny that that is my life's work. Mowing the lawn and working outside proved something, I thought, related to saving money from hiring someone else, or making me an independent woman...or something.
But back to waking up. When I wake up I remember what is really going on with my body. I have been having intense muscle spasms on only the right side of my body. They are happening in my neck, my face, my shoulder, above the elbow, on the back of my upper arm, at the front of my lower arm, in my hip, in my thigh, in the back of my calf, around my ankle. You get the freaking picture, right? I have soreness and tough little knots from them. I go to the Dr tomorrow and I'm almost nervous to explain my symptoms because those muscle spasms are EVERYWHERE --- but just on the right side.
Next, I'm starting to lose grip strength in my hands and dropping a lot of stuff with my right side. I also have tingles that run down the front of my face right under my skin, just on the right side. That has only happened twice but I am noting it since it's part of the "all on one side" theme. As I walk along the path of seeking healthcare and watching my own physical decline, I think this dream had some instructive themes for me.
- We all have a different path. Jen's is just as valid as mine or another winding health fluctuation path. She has her path, her lessons, and her legacy and I don't need to bemoan or regret hers since I don't have the all the answers of what happens when we die. It feels callous to say there is good in her path, but if her soul is still existing on some plane she may have had say in how it went and may feel it was the best ending.
- I am still worthy of love and belonging as my skills and abilities change. In the dream I wanted to correct Jen and her naysayers to let them know we LOVED having her here and just being able to BE with her. I wanted all those people to drop their expectations of what they wanted from her and just embrace that she was there! The others didn't know the alternate ending that I did from "real life" which was her death we experienced. That perspective made me think about being gentle with myself and the value of my life, with or without the contributions people are used to having from me.