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At 7:15 A.M., I awoke with this dream:

A very old nun is dying in her infirmary cell, its door closed until this morning when I noticed it.

This dream recalled my experience as a young nun with first vows, newly assigned to the community’s 12-grade Academy in New Orleans. It was August 1963. I was asked to take my turn praying by the bedside of a comatose old nun. The sister infirmarian saw my distress and explained features of the dying process, underway: irregular breathing, death rattle, sunken cheeks, blue feet, mottled arms resting atop the thin bed sheet. But there was no prayer that afternoon; instead I watched the oscillating fan wrap humid sighs around the old nun’s nightcap, tied under her chin.

Long years passed before squeamishness around the dying lessened, but that that would happen to me was kept at bay, even while working with hospice patients.

However, this morning’s dream appears to be another invitation to explore death, up close—my own. Weakness, difficulty formulating words, shortness of breath, need for oxygen, nightly cocktails of morphine and Lorazapan, Miralax for my bowels, decreased appetite—all speak of what’s coming. No longer can the death of my body be denied through the maintenance of my daily routine, the last vestige of control. I’m still supported by spirited caregivers, my new coaches into the unknown, one day a time.

It’s about letting go, about falling into the arms of God as others have done before me.



It was last Sunday morning, around 7:30 A.M., when this dream startled me:

It is evening. I am alone, leaving a conference room, my arms filled with notebooks and texts. As I make my way down the empty corridor toward the garage, I feel great weakness consuming me. My legs feel rubbery. Terrified, I look for someone or some thing to hold on to. I am crumpling, the carpeted floor fast approaching me.

 The dream alerted me to my true circumstances, having barely managed my self-care, the previous day. I needed more help to remain safely in my home and reluctantly made the necessary arrangements, given my penchant for solitude.

During the following week, the hospice nurse and chaplain visited, recognized my deepening weakness and shortness of breath, then ordered medical equipment and supplies to convert my bedroom into a sick room. My end time seemed eminent. Accordingly, I took to my wonderful bed, never moving about on my wheeled walker unless supervised. My strengthening and deep breathing exercise ceased.

With my power of attorney, I also finalized the last of my business, notified my lawyer, broker, and accountant of this change that may or may not lead to the death of my body at this time. Family, friends, and neighbors were also advised, unleashing torrents of love and prayer. All seemed ready, but for what? When?

Then, my sister Martha arrived from out of state and for the past two days we laughed and shared stories, as only sisters can do.

And this evening’s phone call with a CPA buddy helped me understand the emotional bottom from which I’m emerging, that such experiences can occur before the last one that leads to the death of the body. So just relax when the next one comes and ride it out.

So, reduced to zero energy, more short of breath, I’m adjusting to the new normal with spirited round-the-clock helpers. My blogs will continue, as I am able …

I did piss others when I cancelled the hospital bed and other equipment—perhaps for a later time.

With a jolt, I awoke with this corrective dream:

Lethargic, unfocused, I’m driving my new used car home from the dealership. As I approach the grocery store, I remember needing eggs and decide to stop. I pull into the parking lot that slopes toward the curb, then turn off the ignition. To my horror, the car keeps moving. I don’t know where the brake is. I need help.

Given the busyness of yesterday, it’s no wonder that my Dreamer spun this story.

Lethargic, unfocused speaks of the dissociation from my body as well as the world around me, a condition I used to live in before getting into recovery; it kept me isolated, unable to learn, stunted psycho-socially. That I’m still swallowed in this malaise reveal its deep rootedness. Yesterday’s relapse led to disregarding my third breathing treatment at the scheduled time. Exhaustion precluded remaining awake until a later time when it was safe to take it. Only with this morning’s treatment did deep breathing fill my lungs.

Driving my new used car suggests my self-will run riot, as described in the Big Book. In my present circumstances, I’ve no need for a car. Yet in the dream story, I procure one. I will have it my way, no matter that I may harm others or myself.

The grocery store with its eggs speaks of my penchant for nutritious foods to maintain my old body, such as it is. I still avoid sugars and most grains.

I don’t know where the brake is. —A terrifying moment seated in my car rolling toward the street and a probable crash. This image prods me to listen for Higher Power’s direction and not go out on my own, and to say No when taxed beyond my endurance. I’m the one with the terminal illness.



Such are the associations from these dream images, urging deeper listening for direction.


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