68: Swim to the Light

68: Swim to the Light

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

Swim to the Light

A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.

~The Talmud

I awoke suddenly from a deep sleep. My heart was pounding, and I was scared. I closed my eyes, hoping to fall back to sleep quickly. But there it was again.

I was drowning. An unknown force was pulling me straight down toward the bottom of a deep, dark ocean. I was wrapped in a twisted heavy rope from my shoulders to my ankles. My arms were pinned to my sides, and my legs were bound together.

I could feel myself sinking quickly toward the bottom. I had no oxygen left and I was starting to panic. I was going to die soon if I didn’t do something, but I didn’t know what to do!

I started moving my bound legs back and forth like a mermaid. All of a sudden, the ropes loosened and my feet and legs were free. I was kicking my feet and moving my upper body around sideways. The ropes fell away. I was kicking my feet even faster now, and my body started moving upward!

I was getting closer to the top and could see rays of light penetrating the water. “Swim to the light,” a little voice said. “Swim to the light.” I broke through the surface of the water, gasping for air. The sun was shining, and the sky was blue. I was alive, and everything was going to be fine.

I opened my eyes again in the dark room. The soft glow of the alarm clock cast an eerie light on the ceiling. I got out of bed, afraid I would have the bad dream again if I went back to sleep. It haunted me all day, making it hard to focus at work. My mind kept drifting back to the dream, wondering what it could possibly mean.

A few days later, a colleague stopped by my office. Sandy had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and had started chemo. She was only in her thirties and had three young children. Outwardly, I tried to be positive and encouraging, but inwardly I was very upset by all that was happening to her.

That night, the dream came roaring back again. The next morning, I told my husband about it while we were getting ready for work. He speculated that I was internalizing what Sandy was going through. My husband said, “The dream might be just to reassure you that Sandy will be alright if she fights back.” I liked his interpretation, but I wasn’t sure if that’s what it really meant.

Over the next few weeks, I had the same dream several times. I couldn’t shake the dream. I became convinced that the dream was mostly about me, but somehow Sandy was very connected. Sandy was fighting her cancer. The dream was showing me that I needed to fight back and swim to the light.

I struggled to find a connection between Sandy and my dream. What was wrong? What did I need to fight? The only thing I could come up with was to make an appointment for a mammogram. A few days after the appointment, I got a call saying they wanted to do more X-rays. That same day, the radiologist recommended a biopsy, which was scheduled for a few days later.

The day finally came for me to get the biopsy results. When the doctor came into the room, he moved his chair close to mine and said, “I’m afraid I don’t have very good news.”

There were no tears, just a feeling of numbness. “I know,” I said, nodding slowly.

“You do?” the doctor asked incredulously, sitting back in his chair.

“Yes, I had a dream,” I told him. “That’s why I came in for a mammogram.”

I never had the dream again.

It was a long road, with surgery, chemo, and radiation, but I trusted the dream completely. It gave me hope and a positive attitude. I fought back, prayed frequently, and was finally able to swim to the light.

It’s been eleven years, and I’m still doing well. Divine intervention saved my life, and cancer changed my perspective. I’ve met some wonderful people because of it, and I’ve witnessed and received unbelievable kindnesses. Best of all, I have had the opportunity to pay it forward and help others on similar journeys.

And in case you’re wondering about Sandy, she is doing well, too!

~Barbara Dorman Bower

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