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“Hi, Liz, I’m here! Got a surprise for you!” the voice called from the front door. It was Alice, my hospice nurse. “Stay where you are. I just couldn’t resist!” she added, her speech lilting like a Scotch folk singer at a fair. My curiosity mounted as I heard a second pair of footsteps following hers moving through my bungalow. I finished my nebulizer treatment, then remained seated upon the kitchen stool, my eyes toward the window.

“Thought you’d enjoy these—Just clipped them this morning—From my Rose of Sharon tree, by the garage.” I smiled and turned around as she placed a plastic cup with four creamy pink blossoms and a cluster of splitting buds on the dining room table, the setting for my weekly check-ups. “And Sam’s with me, another student nurse who’ll graduate soon. You’re so good about letting our students evaluate you, especially with Covid. This batch hasn’t had much experience with patients—only with the Life/Form manikins.”

Both Alice and Sam, the student nurse, in masks and uniform blues, received my thanks as I studied the arrangement and prepared for the usual questions on my overall functioning. Again, not much new to report—Still plateaued upon my present weakness, shortness of breath, and exhaustion, until the next drop of my symptoms whenever that occurs; such has been my experience since the November 2019 hospice sign-up.

Besides Alice’s occasional gifts of flowers and colored leaves, I’ve also received her lightness of manner, sometimes verging upon hilarity that colors my trust in her expertise. When my time comes, I know I’ll be in skillful hands, related to her warm heart that knows deep things.

At 5:50 A.M., I awoke to this stirring dream:

Christ of the Oceans invited me to join His fellowship. I am honored. Others were with me. One fumbled with his keys and happened to drop them in the water. I dove deep, found them lying upon a sandy spur, and returned them to him. I was already a member of His fellowship of Earth.

This dream constitutes a big one in Jungian analysis as it emanates from the deepest place in my unconscious, known as the collective unconscious. It could be a huge gift or the fruit of deepened acceptance of my terminal diagnosis, interstitial lung disease with rheumatoid arthritis—Or perhaps the completion of my care plan when actively dying, whenever that happens.

Needless to say, I’ve already received beautiful care since my November 2019 hospice sign-up. My gratitude knows no bounds.

So to the dream—I did not receive a visual impression of the Christ of the Oceans, only His presence as experienced during my annual directed retreats on the Gloucester coast; its sweetness, the quintessence of joy. His invitation to this watery fellowship suggests Richard Rohr’s study of the Twelve Steps, Breathing Underwater—doing the impossible and healing through obedience of the heart: Its daily practice enables me to continue diving deep. Who know what else I will find? Perhaps more keys to unshackle me from pretense and other character defects?

This dream is a welcome respite from weeks of darkness. Yet, Christ of the Oceans and of the Earth has been companioning me all along. There’s nothing to fear …

“Time unused and only endured still vanishes, as if time itself is starving, and each day is swallowed whole, leaving no crumbs, no memory, no trace at all”—So wrote Elisabeth Tova Bailey, author of the memoir, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating (2010).

Once the author realized the debilitating implications of her chronic illness, with brief remissions tanking into relapses with hospitalizations and painful therapies, she took stock: she still had a need to be useful; she still had her keen mind, and with it, engaged in snail research, even publishing the results of her findings. From her fruitful imagination, she also composed short stories for academic journals.

Bailey’s productivity, under such handicaps, empowers me to do likewise, given the increasing symptoms of my terminal illness since its November 2019 diagnosis. At the time, I remembered feeling overwhelmed, then deciding to enlarge my hospice experience through daily blogs on Well-practiced in writing,

I would have company. I began, one word at a time, the continuing gift of my Inner Writer. Any subject was grist for the mill, given the altered perspective on my life, and slowly I could type ADL with RA without a miss-strike.

Change of seasons, prayers, holidays, Covid-19 and so much more have left traces of new learning upon my blog, despite scratching unlikely surfaces for material.

Never could I have imagined the tinge of yellow shimmering the forsythia shrub next to my front porch, but it is happening, and will probably produce another blog. LIFE is unstoppable until it stops. In the meantime, like Elisabeth Tova Bailey, I’ll continue dropping crumbs, as given to me to share.

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