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“Hello! I’m looking for Laura. Has she left the office yet”? I asked raising my voice as loud as I could. In this afternoon’s mail, she had sent me a form requiring my signature and date, before mailing it to the IRS.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t hear you. Can you speak louder?” A tad of irritation shadowed his words, impatient to close the office for the day. After several attempts to be heard, I said I’d call back tomorrow and hung up the receiver, pissed.

Evidence of another symptom of my terminal illness irks me: insufficient air in my diseased lungs to sustain normal speech, even while wearing continuous oxygen and taking morphine and nebulizer treatments to slow down the collapse of the air sacs in my lungs. Exhaustion is another component. Eventually, I could lose my speech.

The irony of such a loss weighs heavy upon me, especially since I only began to speak when three years old; an older brother mimicked my total development, so, I did nothing—too terrified to go out on my own, I just imitated others’ speech and behaviors when I had to. Decades of unfortunate choices followed until I began dream analysis in 1988 and AA in 1991. Through the help of others, I began to wake up to my inner gifts with their unique expression—Even more so, when encouraged to begin writing.

Now when I desire to converse deeply with others, I’m severely limited. Writing does help, but face-to-face sharing strikes hot coals, and in their warming, phenomenal learning.

I still flinch when someone says they can’t hear me. If I don’t replace my anger with Step Three: Made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him, I stay mired in self-pity and that’s never worked. Precious God is bringing me home according to his plan, not mine. There’s no other way around this.

Across the wide swath of flaming maples, I glimpsed bloodied feet of the Choctaw, Muscogee, Chickasaw, Cherokees, and Seminole, five civilized tribes in the southeast, forced by our government to walk the Trail of Tears, between 1830 and 1850—their destination, the barren reservations in Oklahoma.

At the time, protesters lobbied, published, shouted out, lectured from pulpits and courtrooms, but the planters won. Cotton remained King, gobbling up nutrients from stolen lands, viewed as sacred by the tribes who had tended them. Such is our scarred history that greedily wants what it wants, but we are not alone.

The precedent of ethno-cleansing has fueled unspeakable atrocities throughout the world. With others, I cry, “Mercy!”

At 6:35 A.M., I awoke with this disconcerting dream:

After a long absence, I discover that my doctor has moved his office to a high-tech clinic in the city. As I follow a nurse to an examining room, I see a former friend sitting on the floor of another examining room, looking disgruntled, her shapely legs stretched before her upon the hardwood floor. My heart sank. I hoped she had not seen me.

This glimpse into my psyche reveals more of my shadow. My need to see my doctor suggests regaining control of my health rather than allow the continuing diminishment of my body under hospice supervision. I’m determined to fix myself—And only the best will do: a high-tech clinic in the city.

The former friend mirrors my stinginess of heart, resentments, whining and demanding and sulking behaviors, deeply entrenched in my psyche, still rooted within the recesses of my shadow, despite decades of Twelve Step work.

And my former way of handling conflict— I hoped she had not seen me. —was to flee the scene or ignore what had occurred. Such pretense had thwarted development.

The dream reminds me of the critical practice of emotional honesty, with God, myself, and others. I still have a terminal illness.

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