Mesmerized, I watched moths dive like Kamikaze pilots into flaming candles; the others circled off into darkness. It was summer, hot and humid, on the screened-in porch of the Moloney farm. Lost on me were conversations of my parents and others—about the hired help producing sufficient food to sustain our families during World War II. Then, I knew nothing about life or death.

In my perception, this image corresponds to the sick phase of being a hospice patient as described in Kathleen Dowling Singh’s book The Grace in Dying.

Routines of self-care, writing, and prayer fill my daylight hours, but nights are different. Then, psychic intrusions interrupt REM sleep and I’m wide-awake. Like the moth, a nocturnal insect, I cast about searching for light, anything to relieve the darkness of my mortality. I hurl myself upon the Crucified, YouTube Gregorian chants and presentations on contemplative prayer, silence, and solitude. Usually sources of inspiration, they remain cloaked in darkness. Hours pass. Talk show hosts and classical music also fill the time. And trips to the fridge assuage my physical hungers. At best, some sleep does come.

Other nights I do sleep and receive dreams that orient me toward the Soft Glow within my psyche. Then, I feel the warmth, the encouragement to continue trodding through this darkness and enduring this madness, without recourse to drugs. It will pass, I tell myself. And it will, with surrender.

Dawn’s faint light quickens my hope: another new day for listening and learning and sharing.