I Dwell in Possibility…


I dwell in Possibility –

A fairer House than Prose –

More numerous of Windows –

Superior – For Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –

Impregnable of eye –

And an everlasting roof

The Gambles of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –

For Occupation – This –

The spreading wide my narrow Hands

To gather Paradise –

-Emily Dickenson

Over twenty years ago, someone told me one should never ask, “What if?” I still struggle with this idea. For one, I’m a writer. In the most obvious sense, if I never asked what if, my stories would be very short and rather boring. The exploration of the “what if” is the very thing that propels the protagonist through the angst. 

But that’s pretend. Should one never ask “What if” in the real world? 

I went to bed last night wondering a what if question. My last blog revealed a recent health detour from normal (another word I’m wrestling with, so stay tuned.) The follow up appointment after surgery ended with a referral to an oncologist. The massive tumor met the definition of the dreaded “C” word. (I used this phraseology recently to someone and they asked which dreaded “C” word I was referencing.  I’m still trying to figure out the other dreaded “C” words. I didn’t ask. One is enough for the time being.) The oncologist requested a PET scan to see if there is more cancer and said we would discuss future steps depending on the outcome. The follow up with the doctor was today. So for several weeks, my family and I have danced with “What if?” 

A common phrase has been, “I hope it’s clear.” But I never want to use words like hope or love frivolously. So before I could embrace the hope of a comma in this chapter of my story, I sat with Hope for a bit, to get reacquainted. She reminded me of the time we spent together in England. She would meet me every day (not exaggerating) when I got off the bus and then she would walk with me the 10 minutes I had until I arrived at work. Adjusting to a new school is a challenge. Adjusting to a new school in a foreign country was at times, daunting. So, Hope and I would discuss the possibilities that lay ahead each day. It would have been easy to focus on the numerous things I could almost count on going array. But Hope kept whispering in my ear, “What if?” What if? What if today, you make a connection with that student that keeps misbehaving in class? What if today, you get a smile out of the student who is mute? What if today, you make your students laugh and for a few minutes, it’s actually fun. What if? Hope helped me climb atop the shoulders of dread and see the possibility.

We often erroneously accuse Hope of being fragile. On the contrary, she’s rather resilient. She has withstood battle fields strewn with stories ended too soon. She has survived the starvation and anguish of multitudes caged in concentration camps. She has persisted through famines and pestilence and all manner of suffering. And in the midst of all of it, she stands in the middle of the decay and chaos and says, “What if? What if our lives stretch beyond our death? What if every breath we breathe ripples through eternity? What if?

Hope is a brilliant artist. She takes the drab, life-less colors of our fears, and she spins the most beautiful tapestry.

I woke up the first morning after my surgery in the oncology department. I was supposed to be waking up in my own bed after a routine procedure. In the midst of my processing, I heard a voice. (This time it was a real person, I promise.) “Good morning, Rebecca. I’m Meridith.” Before I could even respond with any amount of civility, I was uncertain the social protocols of conversation between two cancer patients separated by a sheet, she kept going. “I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over a year ago. I know a little bit of what you are dealing with in this moment. If you ever have any questions, I’m right here.” 

Tears streamed down my face. Much like they are now. Sometimes, Hope shows up in people. For five days, Meridith walked me through the first parts of my cancer journey. She laughed at my jokes (she seriously may be a saint), she helped me process, she cheered me on, and she whispered, “What if?” But even more profoundly, she exuded life in the unlikeliest of places and she reminded me what Hope looks like.

So, if you haven’t met my friend Hope, the next time your mind is swirling in a cacophony of fear and chaos, listen for her. Her currency is possibility and if you chose an encounter with her, I can’t guarantee your circumstances will change, but your perspective might and maybe that’s the more important of the two anyway.

P.S. The PET scan was clear! Thank you all so much for your prayers, positive thoughts, and best wishes! You have no idea how you lifted us and helped sustain us! Muah!!!

7 thoughts on “I Dwell in Possibility…

  1. Praise God for the people He places in our lives at the times when we need Hope the most. I always love reading your stories about your life. I thank God that your PET scan was clear and look forward to your next story.

  2. Wow what a great blog. I am so glad your PET scan came out clear. Have been thinking about you and wondering how you have been and praying for a good outcome. Thank you Lord!

    There are angels all around, just have to have your eyes open.

    Praise to Meredith.

    Love you.
    Be strong, my friend.

  3. Rebecca just reading this and love you Hope analogy! Hope is my friend everyday and want her with me always. I “hope” and pray all is going well. Sending hugs!

    1. Hi Diann! Thank you and I “hope” and pray the same for you! Sorry for the delayed response. I’ve been a bit inactive with the blog but I appreciate the follow and who knows…maybe I’ll write something soon.

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