The Dreams of a Dying Woman, Part III

Lila (not her actual name) is a woman in her early 70’s who had a number of dreams that hinted at her coming death by cancer. At the time of the dreams discussed in this series she did not know that she had cancer. The dreams that follow occurred approximately one month before her diagnosis and three months before her death.

I went to see Maggie at her place. Some other family members were there. I was in my robe and nightgown, going to visit just a few minutes. I was going to share some recipes with her. She lives more scattered and disheveled than I do, so we had to clear a place at her dining table where we could work. She gave me a piece of cake but I somehow knocked it on the floor and it crumbled all over the place. I cleaned it up and went back to the table. Maggie had cleaned the table and put all our things away. I gathered and started again with my project. Maggie’s two daughters came over with their children. I managed to knock their cake over on the floor also and stumbled through it making a big mess! I cleaned it up and carried the crumbs out back for the birds. Then I fell on the steps going back in the house. I was very frustrated. Maggie said not to worry about it, but I think she and the others were perturbed. We talked about me being in my night clothes and coming over in the middle of the day. Then the girls left with their kids.

In this dream Lila is trying to do something she greatly enjoyed, which was spending time and sharing recipes with a friend. But a couple of odd things are occurring. First of all, she is wearing her nightclothes during the day. The second is that she kept spilling and making a mess of the cake she and her friend were about to share. Lila was not one to wear pajamas unless she was going to bed or she was sick. Was her unconscious telling her that she was more sick than she realized? Or perhaps that she would soon be “sleeping”?

She wants to share cake with her friend and her friend’s daughters. The cake is a kind of communion, a symbol of emotional and spiritual nourishment. But a mess is repeatedly made of it. None of the cake makes it into anyone’s mouth except for those of the birds. If Lila had been having conflict with her friend, then perhaps the dream could be a reflection of this. But this was not the case. They were as close as ever. The overall feeling of the dream is that something has gone very awry, for the food she would have shared with friends is now suitable only for the birds, symbols of the spirit and omens of death in many cultures. In addition, she is repeatedly tripping over things as if she is losing the ability to move easily in this world.

Two weeks later, Lila had this dream:

Dave, my ex-husband, is in my kitchen. I know not why. The kitchen is void of all the homey and special things—mostly bare. The kitchen table is round with the two leaves missing. Xavier and I typically have the leaves in the table so that it is larger and of an oblong shape.

Lila’s ex-husband was deceased. He appears in the kitchen of the house where she lives with her boyfriend Xavier. It is appropriate to ask why a member of the “dead” is paying Lila a visit at this time of her life.

The kitchen is mostly bare. Rooms without furnishings and accessories were a recurring theme in Lila’s dreams during the last year of her life. They give the sense of her having moved out, of a place no longer being home. In the dream the extension leaves have been removed from the table, changing its shape from an ellipse to a circle. Not only is the table smaller now, but an ellipse—if you recall your algebra—has two foci whereas a circle has only one, its center. Thus, two is being reduced to one, just as her relationship with Xavier will soon be reduced from two to one. However there is a hopeful element to the dream. A circle also suggests centeredness. It is the simplest form of a mandala, and thus a symbol of wholeness. Taken together, the dreams might indicate that Lila will no longer be taking her meals in the earthly realm, but in the Beyond.

[To be continued.]

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