Bonaventure is called a graveyard, a town of the dead, but the few graves are powerless in such a depth of life. The rippling of living waters, the song of birds, the joyous confidence of flowers, the calm, undisturbable grandeur of the oaks, mark this place of graves as one of the Lord’s most favored abodes of life and light. –John Muir, Camping Among the Tombs
As of late, I find myself deep within the trappings of my own mind again. Considerations of times past, and the way forward, flash in scenes various as I mull over the meaning and the beat of my life. And most times? I find myself in my mental eye in Bonaventure, wandering its near-endless avenues. In dreams, too, she calls to me with her many residents paying me a visit here and there. It seems I can never quite escape her, as even in sleep, Bonaventure finds me in dreams.
I first came to Bonaventure at the end of March last year, though I had been drawn to her for some time. In fact, an entire trip had been planned months prior just for the pilgrimage of reaching Savannah and Bonaventure’s gates. When planning then, I knew in a vague way that it would be a life-changing experience. As with most of life’s lessons, just how life-changing this visit would be could only be revealed later.
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For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.–Martin Luther
I must confess that as of late, I have been more the meditative soul than the dreamer. This has been due in part to a two week long battle with the flu, the resulting medications of which continually knocked me into dreamless and fitful slumber instead of my normal nightly wanderings. What dreams have come between have also been, frankly, too personal to share.
After what has seemed like forever, my brain has returned to its routine and my midnight mental conjurings are beginning to return again. The first dream since my febrile fight (during which I somehow managed to successfully write 3 lengthy posts about mourning!) came to me in the dark delirium of a Friday night, and boy it felt good to be back!
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Cancer’s life is a recapitulation of the body’s life, its existence a pathological mirror of our own. –Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
When it comes to cancer, I am no stranger. Diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoid cancer at age 21, I know the terror and disbelief that comes with hearing the words “you have cancer”. I was fortunate in that my tumor was caught early enough, and surgical intervention cured me of the mass that threatened to engulf my pancreas. Some argue divine intervention on that front, but I just say it’s dumb luck.
Cancer, biologically speaking, has been an indiscriminate killer for as long as cell lines have existed. At any point, any cell in your body can go rogue and become cancerous. In fact, it might happen regularly, but for those with healthy immune systems, the natural killer cells in the body immediately recognize and destroy the abnormal cells. When this system is affected, cancer strikes. I could go on for ages about oncogenesis and the history of cancer, but there are far smarter people who have written many a book on the subject. The Emperor of All Maladies is one of my favorite books on the subject, and was also turned into a solid documentary available on Amazon Prime. I urge you to watch that, and The Way of All Flesh, a documentary about the unsung heroine Henrietta Lacks, for amazing insight into the strides we as a species have made in the battle against cancer.
Leading up to my diagnosis, I had dreams that would ultimately predict the location and size of my cancer, but that’s another story for another day. Tonight, I write about a different dream from two nights ago that has me scratching my head.
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