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It was late evening, the streets slick, the shrubs glazed, the winds boisterous.

My phone rang. It was the delivery man enroute to my home. I shuddered thinking of anyone out in this weather. From my front window, I watched for his truck that had been here before, months back. Illumination from my street lamp tracked more sleet that skittered on my sidewalk, then like carnival monkeys zigged onto the washed-out grass.

Then, headlights pulled to a stop, and the outline of the seated driver emerged from the gloom as he shuffled work orders in his hands, until finding my own. Then, tentatively, he made his way up my front walk, one arm carrying three cylinders of oxygen, his other hand wrapped around a large plastic bag with tubing supplies to replenish mine.

Under the hall light fixture, he appeared weary, slightly stooped, his mask covering his square cheek bones; white nappy hair fringed his navy uniform cap.

“Where shall I put this order?” he asked, straightening his back and warming his great hands with his breath. I had remembered his other delivery and was even more impressed by this one.

That was a late autumn visit, without this evening’s challenges.

Years of serving others had etched compassion upon his character. A lowly man, likely a grandpa full of wisdom and rich stories, he understood the world of the ill and my place in it.

Although a brief encounter, I was enriched by his presence—as if Jesus, himself, had visited me.

I wait for words, my note card opened on my table, my pen in hand. Distractions assail me: in my neighbor’s yard hangs the KC Chief’s banner, its bold red and black design flashing in the afternoon sun. I shake free of the team’s fierce determination to trample the Raiders in tomorrow’s game, then adjust my note card and wait for words. They must come.

My friend of long years is ill with double pneumonia, worsened by a blot clot in her lung. Round-the-clock surveillance monitors her condition and keeps her bed-fast. This is just another hospitalization. Others have checkered her life-steps, from all of which she has rebounded, her cheery attitude still sunning others through her continuous practice of acceptance—Even more following a night in her own bed, in quiet environs.

Indeed, she exemplifies Twelve-Step Living, even during these uncertain circumstances; her discovery of the joy of living deepens and teaches us to do likewise. Over and over, we learn that it’s not about us.

In some ways, her hospital stays mirror my own, but with my hospice admission, my return is unlikely.

But enough of this word-game. My note card is still empty, the pen limp in my hand.

I begin, “Dear Judy…”

At 4:30 A.M., I awoke with this dream:

I’ve been invited to the University of Dublin to lecture on my favorite poet. Many students crowd the conference room. I’m surprised by their interest as my grasp of the subject matter is thin. I don’t even mention the name of the poet. Some take notes.

This curious dream is the first after weeks of waking with pieces of them, resembling Campbell’s Alphabet Soup: none made sense. A new medication seems to be messing with my REM or fifth sleep cycle from which dream stories emerge. This one has a bit of story.

My psyche places me on the campus of the University of Dublin, keen on academic research and innovation since its 1592 foundation by Queen Elizabeth I. Such a venue places me at the cusp of new learning, the challenge of each twenty-four hours allotted me before my transition. Never have I been so enthusiastic about learning. The setting also recalls my Irish roots, steeped in hardship.

For some reason, my favorite poet suggests my inner poet, undeveloped and left alone, a task perceived as too daunting whenever I did review journals of poetry. Classes did not light my fire. Yet, she is there, despite not knowing her true name, and I’ve an appreciative audience.

That my presentation feels thin suggests my rush to assimilate fresh materials rather than to relish them, to allow them root-room to grow and become something else, then, to share with others.

All the more important to trust this process, already well underway. My Teacher knows what I really need. It’s about surrendering.

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