I've taken another look at these cards as one single image to try to get a better sense of this.
What I notice is that Death cuts out of the Empress and the 4 Pents. And then, in the opposite corner is the 7 and 8. So there is clear separation between these.
With the 7 and 8 I see fighting and reaching higher, while the 4 seems to be ok with where he is, mingling with the Empress and Death. I'm now going to pull some more cards to give me more images in each position.
1. Why have I been bestowed with The Empress as my Soul Card?
I think it is part of the plan for this life. I think the struggles were put in place before my birth and I am either working off something very bad, or I am working towards something good. Either way, it is tied to my advancement. I tend to think I am working off something bad because the 8 is off the dark horse. But that may just be a coincidence.
2. What gifts does it bring me?
I think it keeps me bound to this life. And by that I mean, that I haven't killed myself yet. I continue to fight my illness, which is probably why the Empress is my soul card. Perhaps only she has what it takes to continue on when the outlook is so bleak. I've always felt there was a reason I was here to fight through this. Originally I thought it was going to be my job to fix it for everyone struggling but I've come to realize that I think I just need to survive it. Almost like doing time for whatever it was that I did in a former life.
3. What lessons do I need to learn from it?
That it is temporary. Death is separating me from something. Which I know is peace. I know that this illness will not follow me in death. Which makes it quite difficult to stay here and fight when I know it would be easier to let go.
4. Where does my soul's journey lead to?
To the next round, the next life. Which looks like it will be more peaceful. Whenever I see the 4 of Pents I always hear, "Relax, it's ok." This journey will lead to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so forth. Which is actually quite comforting. I am here to progress, to turn that wheel. To take my lumps and grow. And so I shall.