You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘intimacy’ tag.

Around 6 A.M., I woke with two encouraging dreams:

I’m tall, strong, sun-tanned, and wearing a cantaloupe-colored dress with a slightly darker A-line coat. I’m alone, content as I watch for what happens next.

I visit the Jesuit staff at their Gloucester, Massachusetts retreat house. After supper that evening, we sit around telling stories laced with boisterous humor. I laugh so hard my jaw aches, and my eyes glisten.

Both dreams reveal wellness in my psych, despite chronic symptoms slowing down my body. Never have I looked so beautiful as in the first dream, my body perfectly proportioned, the cantaloupe colors of my attire enhancing my complexion and brunette wavy hair. I appear patient, which is not always the case in my conscious world. When not surrendered to my habitual slowness, anger flares like a book of matches and engulfs me in more distress until I wake up to the marauder.

The Jesuit staff in the second dream suggests the camaraderie of the masculine principle in my psyche: energized, loving, humorous, unhampered, attentive—each supportive of my conscious efforts to deal with my terminal illness, despite occasional pitfalls of grief. Such a gift uplifts my spirits for yet another twenty-four hours.

The image of the retreat house in my psyche suggests an enclosure with ceaseless prayer; that of the supper, our having participated in some kind of communion service—the Mass, perhaps.

The élan from these dreams thrusts me back to that sacred place, Eastern Point Retreat House, integral for my on-going spiritual development since 1984.

I still long to sit beside the Atlantic and study its movements. My Dreamer knows …

I used to notice a sparse-haired patient cuddling a baby doll, pressed against her full bosom, her feet swimming in maroon socks crossed in front of her. Around her, sat several generations of family in the front parlor of the nursing home. Sunday after Sunday, they regaled her with stories, despite her vacant look. Only the doll in her arms mattered as she fingered its high-tops.

Indeed, dolls have a long history of companioning. In prehistoric times, considered images of the soul, dolls were used in rituals: the Egyptian doll paddle was one example. Later, archaeologists found dolls made of clay, wood, ivory, or fur, with the remains of entombed children in Egypt, Rome, and Russia. And in ancient Greece, engaged women offered their dolls, in sacrifice, to the nymphs or to the goddess Diana, as they prepared for marriage: an exchange for authentic intimacy.

Closer to our own time, doll makers in fourteenth-century Nuremberg, Germany, fashioned them after real children, monks, and women dressed in the style of the day. Other European countries, especially England, also introduced dolls into their colonies that took fire around the world.

In every culture, little girls clung to their dolls that also fulfilled many psychosocial needs: wordless immediacy soothed inexplicable experiences; imaginations teemed with stories; maternal instincts roused the inner caregiver; hostile living spaces, transformed. Dolls also helped little girls’ transition into sleep and waking.—Even accessing the archetype of the Divine Child, their real life companion.

Again, I return to the sparse-haired patient in the nursing home. For however long she lived, she brought a semblance of who she used to be for her extended family. For them, it was enough.

“Looks like it’s still seventeen, Liz, like last December’s—Have you lost any weight?” asked Cayce the nurse practitioner from hospice as she removed the tape measure from my upper arm and slipped it into her bag. Her soft brown eyes opened onto her compassion like suns warming ocean currents, her face masked, her blue uniform pressed. She had already checked my vital signs and troubling symptoms.

“No, I don’t think so, and my clothes still fit—even though loose. Since it got cold, I only wear turtlenecks, sweaters, and sweat pants.” Over the years, my sister-in-law’s Christmas sweaters still afford me a daily change of color that brighten my day; others, as well, at times.

“That color—royal blue—sure looks good on you, Liz, with your silver-white hair. Must keep you warm.” I nodded, then she added, “But I see your breathing’s more difficult—looks like your concentrator’s set on three now,” she said stooping over to check the monitor. Never could I have guessed that I’d be so dependent on oxygen, recommended by my pulmonologist since 2013: then, it was nightly, at one liter per minute.

“The change is subtle, but constant. Each day is different, bit I still adhere to my usual routine. Exercise is critical, but with the help of Chronic Pain Anonymous I’m learning to gentle myself. Sometimes, I only do half my routine and let the others go.” From behind Cayce, the snow’s brilliance shone through the windows of the French door, brightening my dining room.

“Well, you still qualify for hospice, Liz. You’re doing very well with all of this. Be sure and let us know if you’ve questions or need anything,” she said, collecting her equipment. “We’re here for you.”

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: