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“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.

The scene was overwhelming: Herringboned clouds bleached blueness, overhead; centuries-old oaks, freshly leafed, shaded the rolling hills, the grass resembling grown-out buzz cuts of new recruits; asphalt roads serpentined among clearly marked plots filled with the remains of women and men who had served our country in combat or peacetime. Thousands of American flags cast a pink glow upon the white oval faces of the headstones, resembling gothic doorways of ancient monks.

Cars inched around turns with tent-covered lemonade stands, with groundskeepers welcoming visitors and helping with directions. Children in T-shirts and shorts walked Indian-style behind their parents, holding pots of flowers. A heavyset lone senior leaned on her cane while scanning the row of headstones for her loved one.

It was Memorial Day, the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery outside of St. Louis, Missouri, and my first visit to this historic site.

I weep with those who weep.

At 5:45 A.M., I awoke with this big dream:

Two black stallions, bejeweled and sleek, find their way into my backyard.

Rarely do I remember dreams from this depth of my unconscious as discovered by the Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Carl Jung in the early 1900s. Called the collective unconscious, it includes genetically inherited material in symbolic form, not shaped by personal experience. The personal unconscious deals with repressed material from consciousness from whence most of my dream emanate.

So it’s the gift of two black stallions, bejeweled and sleek, to reflect upon this morning—I still remember how they looked at me, their deep souls enticing me into their world, nurturing and warm: I was content to remain there. But their adornment intrigued me—halters crafted with rich gem stones. Indeed, these horses were from another realm and I was to learn from them.

It was a question of listening, moment by moment.

Because my physical waning creates more limits, narrows my outer world, and tempers my attitude, I must remain with this morning’s gift of the two black stallions. Let them fortify my psyche with masculine energy, beauty, affection, speed, and grace, all symbolic traits of stallions that will guide me toward my ultimate destiny of unending joy.  

Perhaps in that realm, more black stallions, bejeweled and sleek, will play.How Creator God will smile…

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