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At 6:40 A.M., I awoke with this hilarious dream:

I’m visiting a new friend in Rome, Italy, the October morning shadowing our steps toward the square thronged with shoppers. We buy food, then climb aboard her double-seated Vesta and set off for the day—a new experience for me.

In no time, we’re roaring down country roads, my friend’s thick blond hair snaking around her red helmet, the same color as her Vesta. Her heavyset body sways with the turns of the dirt roads, and I with her, holding her girth between my arms. Merriment exudes from her spirit like splashing spring waters. My mouth aches from laughter.

Beneath ancient water chestnut trees near an abandoned farm, we stop. The hilarity continues as she tears apart baguettes, then offers me Brie cheese, with red grapes and wine. Even the ravens, strut in tall grasses nearby.

The dream’s setting, Rome, Italy, suggested the center of Christianity into which I was initially enculturated until directed to search deeper for the Cosmic Christ in all of creation. Dire compliance of the rules and regulations no longer drew fire.

October morning spoke of bright aging filled with even deeper opportunities for learning prior to my transition.

The new friend revealed Precious God, disguised as a swarthy French laborer, intent upon opening me to the laughter of living: She smelled of earth. She swept the floors of my closed mind and threw open its grimy windows to another world, the one that awaits me. No longer was it appropriate to grieve my diminishment—just watch it happen and let it go. To strengthen my resolve, she also offered me communion. And she’s still in the driver’s seat.

Composing this blog still evokes laughter …

“It’s hot this afternoon. Would you like a Popsicle?—I didn’t know if I could offer you one,” I said to the delivery man, after signing the form for my monthly supply of oxygen tanks and supplies for my nebulizer. Tall, muscular, his blue uniform T-shirt rumpled around the collar, his khaki shorts besmirched from the day’s deliveries, I could feel a wide grin behind his mask as he loaded up the empty tanks on his gurney.

“That’s mighty nice,” he said in spirited deep tones that resembled preachers pastoring their flock. “You’re right. It’s been one of those days. I’ll take these empties to the truck, then come back.”

In no time was he again standing on my front porch; his choice: blueberry, received with a hearty “God bless you!” his dark eyes dancing like fireflies.

Although our exchange was brief, I was touched by his cheerfulness, his listening to my limits without my mentioning them, his touching my loneliness with God’s sweetness, and his enlarging my crimped world with meaning. Both us us knew we were loved unconditionally, within the particulars of those few moments: lightness buoyed our hearts and drew our gaze toward the Immense. It only took a Popsicle.

“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.

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