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At 7:10 A. M., I woke with this corrective dream:

A senior myself, I decide to move into a Jewish apartment complex, shabby in appearance, its property split by the rails of the Metrolink. In the lounge, the mixed residents share hilarious stories and games: among them, the mating game that requires participants to identify their mates using other names. I decide to join them. After I mastered several tasks, I discovered my mate, elderly, smiling, and wearing steel spectacles. I’m overwhelmed but know I’ll adjust in time.

In the dream, I am elderly, but healthy, as I make decisions that reflect behaviors foreign to my present values—evidence of little-to-no forethought. Something else must be going on.

The Jewish apartment complex…its property split by the rails of the Metrolink suggests a noisy, congested living space that aptly describes my self-generated distractions. The split, a wound of sorts in my psyche, prevents deep listening in prayer; it keeps me rigidly attached to my daily routine lest I lose ground and cave in to the active process of dying that will complete my transition—thus my need to control this process rather than surrender it to Precious God.

And the playful mixed residents, appropriate under other circumstances, increase my anxiety, deepen my longing for solitude, and exacerbate my pretense of game-playing. I certainly don’t need a mate, of any age.

Like angry flood waters barreling me where I have no need to go, my instincts have had their heyday with me. Such is the dream’s message and cry for more practice of Step XI: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve out conscious contact with God as we understand him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry it out.

All was ready in the breakfast room: upon each placement were the buttered toast, sectioned grapefruits, cereal and milk, and coffee for my parents. A jar of mother’s freshly cooked grape jelly sat in the center of the table with the condiments. Through the Venetian blinds sunrays slanted upon the walls like a military band in procession, or so I fantasized. Strains of “Pistol Packin’ Mama” came from the kitchen.

This was a special morning, and I knew it. I sat on the edge of my chair, waiting as I glanced at my siblings dressed in play clothes and jawing, taking swipes at each other; then, studied my heel, tender from new sandals. Mother was settling my youngest brother in his highchair when I heard his footsteps in the hall. It was my dad. It was about to happen.

In resounding tones, he said, “Happy First of September, everyone!” His warm smile briefly assuaged my chronic anxiety, as he took his place at the head of the table and opened his napkin. I could breathe in his presence. So breakfast and the beginning of a new month began, September being the most dreaded with the parochial school reopening after Memorial Day.  

Throughout my childhood, I anticipated this ritual and was never disappointed: his way of sharing joy, despite stresses from work which also required wearing one of his three-piece suits and tie, with the edge of a folded handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket.

His early death, however, prevented me from fully appreciating his selflessness, his knack for telling Irish jokes when tensions mounted over the supper meal. Dad served us very well and I’m grateful.

Last night’s crazies blasted scattered scatter-shot through the denial of my ILD. As Dr. Singh teaches, such eruptions from the unconscious are not untoward: they alert patients to the reality of their terminal illness.

Hunger first woke me at midnight. After a snacking on an orange and buttered toast, I padded back to my bedroom, put on my oxygen, then pulled the covers over my head.

Wide-awake forty-five minutes later, I squinted at the street lamp outside my window. It was still snowing: its flakes chilled the core of my being. After I flipped my afghan atop the comforter, I sought the nether regions of my bed, but was still cold. Then, I grabbed my radio and searched my favorite stations—nothing of interest, there. Like ski jumpers arching their bodies in mid-air, tension mounted in my chest, only to be sucked within darkness.

One half-hour later, I rubbed sleep from my eyes and sat up on the side of my bed. I began rocking; their repetitions eased some tension and I squirreled back under the covers in hope of sleep. Again, I stared up at the ceiling tiles. Next, came leg circles atop the covers, but quit after two repetitions because of heel soreness.

Then I remembered the Lorazapan, still bagged with the other drugs in the kitchen cabinet, provided with my hospice sign-up. Dare I take one? Cut the dose in half? See what would happen? Decades of having taking ineffective drugs for my rheumatoid arthritis still freaked me out.

I did take the Lorazapan: .2 mg. It helped, but I was hung-over this morning—more adjustment to my sick role fortified by the acceptance prayer. This is working out.


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