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I can’t do this anymore! I admitted to myself, gripping my cane. Like stricken puppies, my legs, refused to move, despite my commanding them to do so. I was beached, immobile, furious, a storm crashing within me.

I had already checked into the YMCA, was sucking a lemon cough drip, and was standing at my usual start position by the entrance. Ahead of me stretched the wide corridor; its recessed lighting reflecting upon the floor had helped me maintain balance the four months I’d been coming here. My helper waited for me to begin my customary walk toward the gym and the exercise room, her shadowing each step lest I fall.

That was three days ago, an experience that left me floundering in self-pity, one of the faces of grief.

It’s all about acceptance: my terminal illness has taken another hit—and there have been many—but not as pronounced as this one: Weakness like I’ve never experienced, shortness of breath that worsens speech production, and muscle loss that rouses issues of disease gnawing away at my body, despite still eating full meals prepared by helpers or brought by friends.

Yes, there’s change. Rather than use my cane, I rely upon my wheeled walker to get about—It’s slower but still works. Happily, I’m still able to blog the ongoing experience of my terminal illness, and if appropriate, I will return to the Y’s NuStep and exercise my legs—not to walk as before, of course, but to keep going, one day at a time with Precious God’s help. Besides, I’ve friends there.

“Now that you’ll be changing schools next month, you’ll have to have a watch—make sure you’re on time for your classes,” said Mother, her gaze in the fitting room mirror studying my new uniform: the jewel neck blouse and blue jumper of the middle school. “We’ll pick up something simple before we leave the store. Now do hurry and get dressed. I’ve got to get home.”

That evening I traced my finger around the small gold-colored face of my first watch, its black cord fastened at my wrist. I felt grownup, yet challenged. I’d have to learn to be punctual. Heretofore, I’d moved whenever I was told to. I checked the time—Dad would be home soon, then supper.

And I did learn, and subsequently owned many watches, even a silver pocket watch when a nun in the 1960s.

With the onset of chronic illness and pain, however, keeping track of time became a nightmare—never was there enough of it. Efforts to control it worsened my symptoms. How I envied others’ knack to complete work projects in a timely manner.

With retirement, however, I befriended time; no longer was I subservient to a supervisor. For nineteen years my Timex watch tracked serious reading and writing within the solitude of my home; I relished every minute of it.

More than ever, I surrender the time remaining me to Precious God, one of whom scribes I’ve become. While I wait, I pray Mercy! over the intractable burnings around the globe, both internal and external.

 

 

My birth certificate tells part of the story: I was born on November 12, 1935, in St. Louis, Missouri, to Thomas O. Moloney Jr and Mary E. Costigan, 28 and 26 years of age, respectively. On December 20, 1935, a clerk filed this data with the Bureau of Vital Records in Jefferson City, Jefferson City, Missouri.

This document attested to my emerging into chronos or chronological time: a quantitative measure of time in hours, days, weeks, months, and years. But kairos time, another Greek word, oriented me to the full mystery of my existence: a qualitative measure of time that accounted for the Sacred’s special presence in my life—those inexplicable O! moments.

Decades of living with chronic illness and pain, fatigue and constipation, of necessity, opened me to kairos time. Therein, I discovered the Crucified. How my passion soared as I kissed His knees during Good Friday’s Veneration of the Cross. I was not suffering alone. Unutterable prayer filled long nights of darkness atop my bed, froze tears, crusted my mouth. Such was my destiny to suffer.

Because of my reliance upon the Crucified for the next step, whether supported by a walk aid or limping on my own, I had neither inclination nor energy to live in chronos time. Relationships overwhelmed me. Anxiety precluded serious study, warped concentration, messed with my memory. Yet, I worked beyond retirement age, ever dependent upon health insurance to cover medical costs.

Now in my ninth week of hospice care, the Crucified still companions me. I am grateful for what has been and for what is emerging. Some kind of a finish line looms ahead, but it’s still indistinguishable.

 

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