Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Joy (Part 4)

“I had a dream last night,” Lily said quietly to Joy. They were slowly sipping tea together at Joy’s home, a week after the Deep Heartache. Joy was on a couch, surrounded by pillows, and Lily slumped in a wheelchair. Both were not themselves – at least, not who they once were. Joy did not smile – could not smile – and Lily spoke with her eyes downcast. They had both come to realize that their sufferings had not only affected their present, but also their past, so that they could no longer recall the good memories they once relied on. Wendy was at her home, in bed, still trying to overcome the sickness that suddenly plagued her day and night.

“In my dream,” Lily slowly recalled, “I met a man… a kind man, with the most beautiful mind I had ever seen. It was radiant and iridescent, like a highly polished pearl. When he moved, it shimmered with every hue of the rainbow, infused with light and life. He smiled at me, but with a sort of sad smile, and reached his hand out to me. His hand rested on my cheek and then brushed across my forehead…and then his smile faded, and he closed his eyes and fell to the ground. Then I saw a heavy burden on his back – two pieces of thick wood. He struggled with the weight of it, and could not rise up under it. Someone else came and lifted the burden, but by then he seemed too tired and weak to even stand up. I wanted to help him, to let him lean on me, but I realized his suffering was the same as mine.”

Joy listened with interest, because she had also had a dream, very similar to Lily’s. “That man came to me as well,” she said. “But in my dream, he bore long, ugly gashes across his back and thorns pierced deep into his head. His look of pain mirrored my own, and I was sorry for his suffering, yet also strangely relieved and comforted. He didn’t tell me that he knew what I was going though – but I could sense that he did, more so than anyone ever could. And somehow it helped, just knowing that he understood.”

The man with the iridescent mind perplexed the friends so much that they decided to call Wendy and see if she had dreamed of him, too. Before they could ask her, she said, “Oh, my friends! I had the strangest dream. I met a man who felt my illness just as I do. Can you imagine? He seemed just fine at first, but then he touched me and became just as sick as me. But it seemed as though he chose to – like he knew that by touching me, he would enter into my disease. Why would he do that?”

The others agreed that it seemed true of their dreams as well, and they were baffled by the thought. Later when Lily left, Joy laid back and tried to imagine her pain away, to concentrate on something beautiful – anything beautiful – but the stabbing and throbbing pain absorbed everything else. What was once effortless now was impossible. She felt as though she had been beaten like the man in the dream. When she remembered his face and beautiful mind, her tight muscles eased a bit. He was the only light she could cling to in this dark time.

That night, Joy dreamed of the man again. But this time, he stood straight and tall, looking strong and healthy and wearing a bright peacock-blue robe. His mind still swirled with many colors, but she noticed the blue of his robe was highlighted in his mind now. She became a little sad, because it reminded her of what she had lost, and she wondered if the first dream had been true after all.

He seemed to know her thoughts, because he stepped closer and held out his arms. “I am the same,” he assured her, and she saw long scars on his skin, criss-crossed and bright pink with the freshness of their healing. “I know your pain… I remember the pain… I will never forget the pain.”

Joy was again comforted, but also deeply sad, though she could not express why. She wanted to say that she wouldn’t mind remembering, if it meant she didn’t actually have to live with the pain anymore. She wanted to express how she couldn’t imagine living like this and being so alone. Again, the man seemed to understand, for he said, “You will not be alone. I am with you.” Then he picked her up and began walking. “I will carry you when it is too difficult to bear.” And in his arms, she felt a touch of the familiar blue beauty come back to her, even as the man faded away and she awoke from her dream.

The next day the three friends talked on the telephone, from the confinement of their beds, about their dreams and the man with the iridescent mind.

“He said to me, ‘I am strong; let me carry you,’” Lily said in awe, and the others agreed that he had carried them as well.

Wendy said, “When I look at him, I see my old taupe color, and I forget that my mind is this awful yellow – I forget that I am sick. I feel like I am whole again.” And they all agreed. They wondered about this man, and talked about him together for a long time. Who was he, and how did he meet each one of them in their own suffering?

Since they could not see each other, they could not tell that the colors of their minds were changing – that the dullness and darkness, while still present, was swirling with something else. Streaks and smudges of bright beauty highlighted some areas and blended into others, so that their minds appeared like marble. They each knew something was different; their suffering continued to rage, but did not crush them quite so much now. And they each went to bed that night wondering if the man would appear to them again, and what he would say or do…

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