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“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.

At 6 A.M., I was gentled awake with two inspiring dreams:

A wintry afternoon, its chill tempered by the sun’s warmth, I happen to meet my friend Pat Coughlin. Others joined us for and hugs and stimulating conversation.

A sumptuous banquet honored the Superior General of the Society of the Heart in a large dining room that opened out onto the deck. Hundreds enjoyed gourmet entrees and choice wines, seated around tables with white-starched linens and centerpieces of white roses and trailing ivy. Lively music supported the camaraderie, despite the Superior General’s inability to speak English. I was responsible for all the arrangements.

Deep joy suffused recall of these dreams, again revealing wholeness in my psyche. In both, I was fully present to the experience—No hiding out in defense mechanisms. I was alive and well.

The second dream places me in a servant ‘s role as I tended the needs of the Superior General and her community of which I had been a member for seventeen years. Gone are all my resentments toward them, after decades of seeking their removal—evidence of Higher Power doing for me what I cannot do for myself.

The fruit of dream work continues lightening my experience of old age with its limits. I’m grateful …

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