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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.

Around 4 A.M., I awoke with this loud dream:

It was 1429, a sun-filled afternoon in the town square at Orleans, France, resounding with jubilant hoots of victory. The French army, under the command of Joan of Arc, had just defeated the British and restored the Dauphin to his rightful place on the throne. She looked stunning, armored, and astride her white horse, her victory more of God’s work than her own.

The deafening noise of the dream hurt so much that I scrambled awake to the quiet of my bedroom where I sat up and caught my bearings. In 1977, I had spent an afternoon in the Old City, at Orleans, France, marveled at the equestrian statue of the Maid of Orleans, but it had little resemblance to the dream’s image.

The Joan of Arc in my psyche heartens me—yet another spirit guide to lead me through the pitfalls of my terminal illness, at times like a pus-filled enemy beset with fears and setbacks. The British enemies Joan contended with pale in comparison.

Indeed, in my depths wage intermittent 24/7 wars. Vigilance to prevent these intrusions from scabbing old wounds augments my chronic exhaustion and weakness. Each day’s challenge is to remain steadfast in faith to Creator God who has companioned me for over eighty-five years. That’s a long time to be around, I often tell Him.

Back lit translucent white lit candle with melting wax

Fifteen years ago this morning, humid and cloudy, Two Men and a Truck moved my belongings to my new home, a modest bungalow, ideal for its quiet and neighborly support. Outside my study window flourished an old lilac shrub; it’s still there, in full bloom, its fragrance drawing smiles from dog-walkers.

But the deepest smiles have been my own. Aside from periodic pruning and watering, I’ve contributed little toward the shrub’s survival. Winter-ice encased the buds, snowdrifts weighted the branches, and winds, like whirling dervishes, propelled its root systems into deeper articulation.

Infrequently, though, a freeze shocked the heady blossoms, and then it was over until next year—Brown and spent, they languished and nicked my grief.

With this spring’s frolicking, however, fully rounded lilac buds slowly split with tinges of pale green; then emerged clusters of lavender nubs until warmed into full petalling. It’s happened again, for the sixteenth year.

Such beauty reminds me of the Source, ever recoloring my psyche and companioning my end time that demands even more consciousness. Again, as I look out my study window, I thrill with regal blossoms sweeping the sky. I’m in good hands and always have been.

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