Whoa! Would you look at that? I mumbled, supporting myself against the vanity in the bathroom. My brown jeans, still buttoned, had slipped over my hips and pooled around my bare feet—evidence of more weight loss.

Unlike many, my weight had never been a problem, given the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in the 1960s and my adoption of the Paleo diet; disregarding it added additional knee pain and swelling. But dropping a pound here or there, in recent years, alarmed me since I was unable to regain them.

The eventual diagnosis of ILD with rheumatoid arthritis named the underlying disorder, but the weight loss was slow in manifesting, until recently. 

Whenever I needed alterations in the past, I resorted to a South Korean Dry Cleaners in my neighborhood—nothing fancy but it served my needs. Besides my brown jeans, faded from many washings, others especially my tan ones—my favorite—needed also critical stitching, not that I was going anywhere.

For days, I obsessed over transportation, the energy available for the fitting, the cramped quarters of the dry cleaners, and my ability to maneuver on my walker. Ordering new pants on line was not an option because of my height. Finally, all was arranged for yesterday afternoon, but I was too weak to go.

So, what happened when I opened the door of my bedroom closet this morning, long cleared out of clothing, in preparation for my demise in 2019? Hanging among other light-colored pants was another tan pair I had used only for travel to Gloucester, Massachusetts. I’d forgotten that I’d bought them it at J Jill’s, size 4, long, years ago. The fit is still perfect.

So, no need to fret. Precious God takes care of all my wants, even clothing until there’s no need.

THOONK! An empty silence filled the kitchen and dread immersed me within its hairy tentacles. I had finally done it: splotches of applesauce on the kitchen floor, its loosened cap still in my hand.

With breakfast completed, I decided to put off the clean-up—however I would manage it. After sipping some lemon water at the sink, my not-fully-awake hand knocked over the pitcher onto the counter and floor, soaking my furry slip-ons. I was done.

Yet, instead of calling for my neighbor, I began to strategize: paper towels, a wet dish rag, my indispensable grabber, my bare feet, and my stool. No matter that I was weak and short of breath, I would take the needed time, apart from my routine. It would work, and it did.

So, what does this say about my commonsense, about my need for help, yet, going it alone? Often, I find myself in problems of my own making, the residue from decades of living in denial. Happily, this condition is lessening due to my continuing decline. Neighbors are only too delighted to help out whenever I ask.

Yet, doing it my way is still rooted in my psyche and speaks to an essential trust seamed with cracks and debris.

I’ve still much to learn about letting go and letting God take charge.  My transition requires it, or at least my willingness to learn with each spill, of whatever kind.

“This is the Body of Christ, Liz,” she said placing the cross-incised wafer into my outstretched palms and returning to the chair in my study. Silence of communion etched innate belonging upon our psyches; we gleamed with the gift.

Only after raising my eyes did I begin to speak. “Thanks, Bridget, it’s been a long time. I so appreciate your coming to my home this morning,” I said, scooting back in my arm chair and noting the sun’s glimmer upon a cardinal’s wings, in flight. Before her arrival, I wondered what we’d have to share. Yet, words came easily, despite my departure from the church seventeen years ago, caused by a significant dream.

“I’m also glad to see you again, Liz. Your home is lovely, so welcoming. How long have you lived here?” And so, the conversation grew, with intervals of laughter.

In her younger years, Bridget had taught religious education to the parish children, then, went on for a degree in theology in spiritual direction and retreats, all the while, raising children with her husband, still an avid chess player. Her interest in my life experiences led to questions about my terminal illness.

“Do know that your name appears in the weekly bulletin—among the ill parishioners? Although you are not physically among us, we come to each of you, in prayer, Fridays at the church.” Of special note were her strong hands with a simple gold band and her lively eyes filled with life’s rough and tumble amusement.

Before we separated, I asked, “Bridget, will you remove your mask so I can see your face? It’s been a while.”

In the ensuing moment, unspeakable joy fused us to Another. The Gift deepens.

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