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Outside my study windows, September evokes subtle leaf changes in my shrubs: the pickle-green lilacs, the laurel-green forsythia, the moss-green of the London plane tree, and the hunter-green of the snowflake verbena. All have lost their glossy coats, Spring’s gift, and will eventually cast them within stripping winds and pelting snow crystals. Yet, occasional root drenching-rains prolong this process like sparrows in slow motion.

I feel like one of these leaves: the loss of my greening-zest and its intrusion into my identity. But change, I must continue until properly stripped. This takes daily willingness, only wrought through prayer. Within each twenty-four hours, I draw courage from the shrubs, in their de-coloring and de-leafing, outside my windows.

Yet, lime-green berries flourish on my Christmas jewel holly, December’s chill reddening them through the winter months.

“I’ve never died before! I don’t know how to do this!” said Miki, slumped in a wheelchair at the table, her breathing supported by two linked concentrators whirring away like an intrusive helper. Lung cancer had created this dependence, her bloated cheeks bearing the indentations of the nasal tubing.

Her complaints drew compassion from her friends who had been visiting her in the nursing home since her admission, months before. Miki, the children’s reader at the city library, began to resemble one of her waifs—a wisp of hair emerging from her red knitted cap like a lost puppy. That was in 2016.

In my present circumstances, I think of Miki, of her initial resistance to the dose of morphine offered by the hospice nurse, of her transition, of the joyful funeral at St. Pius V, followed by lunch and memories with friends. Unlike, Miki, I’ve had almost two years managing my terminal disease and living with its culmination in the death of my body—sometime in the future, unknown to anyone.

I only have this twenty-four hours in which to breathe life into acceptance prayer and meditation as my energy wanes and I need more help. Yet, I’m still focused on my care plan, alternating blog composition, significant reading, and exercise, with resting, and listening to classical music. Difficulty making speech shortens phone contacts and visits. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to grow spiritually, if granted.

I learned much from Miki, ever mindful of her help.

At 4:45 A.M., I awoke with this dream of my mother:

My mother has been admitted to the Women’s Ward at the St. Louis Psychiatric Hospital and I go to visit her. I tell the guard my mother’s name, Mary E. Moloney, and several times, I hear her name called, echoing crazily upon the Old World marble interior as I walk.

This dream, from the personal unconscious, teaches much.

The repetition of Mary E. Moloney, in loud tones, over the intercom unnerved me. It’s my name, as well, despite my never having internalized it; only upon legal and business documents does it appear. Could this be another wake-up call? 

The first occurred after Mother’s funeral, standing at the Moloney graveside at Calvary Cemetery. My eyes fixated upon the small plate soldered to the side of the steel vault intended for her coffin: in raised gold letters, it read: “Mary E. Moloney – 1909-2008.” I was stunned; then hollowed—Had I had ever lived my own life? She was now gone. No other Mary E. Moloney lived that I knew of. I had the remainder of my life to claim my real name—This, I am doing in the time allotted me.

So the dream opens me to the richness of my name, Mary E. Moloney, integral to my birthright and grounds for profound thanks to Mother and Creator God.

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