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I smiled recording this dream:

It is sunny, late afternoon. The events of Field Day are winding down, and with it, the end of the school term. A festive air animates hundreds of students, their families, and the teaching staff. As I stroll along the grounds I am grateful for my co-workers. A male teacher greets me, cups his hands around my face, and thanks me for my help. Jeannie Dunn, the school’s athlete, stops by and speaking in breathless tones, tells me of her last event: a thirty-minute run around the perimeter of the school grounds. Then she takes off.

 In the dream it was Field Day, suggestive of daily play with my word processor. The setting felt like the all-girls academy I had worked in as a young nun: a complex of stone buildings set upon rolling hills, surrounded by black and white oak trees; its beauty and orderliness suggested the present container for my spirit in which I thrive. Whole in body and spirit, I have been healed of many fissures that had crippled me. The male teacher’s intimate gesture spoke of the loving kindness deep in my psyche that desires communion. And Jeannie Dunn suggested my ongoing fitness related to this critical work.

No wonder my smile! The dream feels compensatory: a reversal of what had occurred when teaching as a young nun, hobbled by multiple psychophysical issues. Such stories release festering failures from the past and affirm the direction of my present life path. My play only deepens.

 

“It’s critical to live while dying than to die while living,” so urges Kathleen Dowling Singh, author of what’s become my handbook, The Grace in Dying – How We Are Transformed Spiritually as We Die. Such has become the leitmotif of my hospice experience that began last November.

Ninety days have passed since I signed those papers, de-cluttered my house of all that I’m not using, and finalized my affairs with my lawyer, broker, funeral director, and accountant—even alerted significant others of my decision.

Weeks passed with visits of the hospice team, experienced in end-of-life issues and supportive of my efforts to wrap words around my terminal illness: Interstitial Lung Disease. Initially, it felt like I was talking about someone else, even felt uneasy when they responded. To remedy this disorder, I began blogging my daily experience, and it’s been working. I also did not miss my supplements or my accustomed activities outside my home. The “little blue pill” became an even smaller white one, the dosage reduced from four milligrams to one. But my body is old and subtle changes are occurring.

I liken my decline to the pace of the snail: loss of muscle mass, need for nebulizer treatments for breathing, slower gait, and even some weakness and brain fog. Yet I continue all my ADLs and appreciate my helpers’ support, one day at a time. Conscious contact with Precious God and my CPA sponsor makes this work. Huge is my gratitude when I retire for the day to await dreams.

And Last week Medicare authorized a second ninety-day benefit period for my hospice care. I’ll keep blogging.

 

 

“Yeah, that’s right. Hold it like that,” said my sister, her scissors poised over my right ear. “Just wanna get this little bit—there—done. What do you think?”

In the hand mirror I catch her lined smile, evidence of deep willingness to help out, whenever or wherever. Although her mailing address is with her daughter’s in Edina, Minnesota, she crisscrosses the country in her navy SUV and hangs out with the overwhelmed until their crisis has passed. For decades, playtime in one of her timeshares has enhanced her family’s bonding and restored much needed balance among her guests.

For several years she has been tracking my admissions to the hospital and rehab, bringing tasty salmon dinners from Michael’s, apples and other snacks, even small plants for over-the-bed-table. Her exuberance buoyed my beleaguered spirit, worn down by the high drama of roommates, with the seriousness of house doctors and specialists engorging the computer with more data of my functioning. And there have been other haircuts.

And today she reminds me, “If ever you need me, just call. I’ll be on the next plane.”

Again, I look into the mirror as my sister brushes loose hairs from my sweater sleeve and removes the towel from around my shoulders. When I speak to the beauty of her selflessness, she chortles and says that she’s well named—after Martha in the Gospel of John. This is so true.

 

 

 

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