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“I’ve never died before! I don’t know how to do this!” said Miki, slumped in a wheelchair at the table, her breathing supported by two linked concentrators whirring away like an intrusive helper. Lung cancer had created this dependence, her bloated cheeks bearing the indentations of the nasal tubing.

Her complaints drew compassion from her friends who had been visiting her in the nursing home since her admission, months before. Miki, the children’s reader at the city library, began to resemble one of her waifs—a wisp of hair emerging from her red knitted cap like a lost puppy. That was in 2016.

In my present circumstances, I think of Miki, of her initial resistance to the dose of morphine offered by the hospice nurse, of her transition, of the joyful funeral at St. Pius V, followed by lunch and memories with friends. Unlike, Miki, I’ve had almost two years managing my terminal disease and living with its culmination in the death of my body—sometime in the future, unknown to anyone.

I only have this twenty-four hours in which to breathe life into acceptance prayer and meditation as my energy wanes and I need more help. Yet, I’m still focused on my care plan, alternating blog composition, significant reading, and exercise, with resting, and listening to classical music. Difficulty making speech shortens phone contacts and visits. Tomorrow will be another opportunity to grow spiritually, if granted.

I learned much from Miki, ever mindful of her help.

It came unexpectedly in November 2019: to blog experiences about my terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis and its corresponding hospice support. The decision left me queasy, bereft of words, uncertain how to proceed: what to share and what to leave out, ever mindful of my readers already following my Heartwhisperings blog, posted on Wednesdays since 2011. But I had to act, knowing the Source of the decision. I was not to worry—a topic for each day would emerge.

So with my words still slippery, I began. Ahead of me yawned the great unknown. To spend time in that realm required discipline, silence, patience, and prayer. A regular there, the perimeters of living fully, each day, with a terminal illness began to emerge—The adventure was getting texturally rich.

With weakness and shortness of breath enervating me, however, the blogs will be less frequent.

To bolster this acceptance, I happened upon Like Shaking Hands with God – a conversation about writing (1999): The transcription of two authors, Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Springer sharing the exigencies of their craft. Their intimacy within the dark realm of the psyche resonates in Vonnegut’s novels of humor and science fiction and in Springer’s memoir, Grand Central Winter – Stories from the Street (1998).

Both writers believe in the redemptive power of literature and urge writers to incorporate significant change in the lives of their characters, given the frailty of the human condition. From such writers, learning is deep.

Both also concur that the best writing teems from the unconscious, when writers have no plan what to write, only the mandate to show up at one’s word processor and listen. The words come. Such has been my experience, as well.

I’m grateful to have blogged this path as long as I have. My transition depends upon it. I will continue …

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