Outside my study window, overhanging limbs of my London plane tree appear motionless; they seem to say, “Pay attention. Notice my hand-sized leaves, still green, though dried. Autumn has already begun, with no signs of change.” Something is out of kilter.

This stoppage seems to shake the foundations of any residual holdouts in the darkness of my psyche. True, eleven months of hospice care have pried open, at times painfully, such blind spots and deepened the acceptance of my mortality. Yet, denial still tricks like the black-hearted magician: his cape, snapping illusory versions of my slowly worsening symptoms to soothe my distress. It never works, for long. At least my old body is honest and for that I’m grateful.