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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.

At 6:20 A.M., I woke with this dream:

It is evening service at the black church I’ve been attending, at the invitation of the pastor and his wife. Again, I’m greeted and enter the fellowship filled with hymns and prayer. Other than occasional constipation, I am well. The pastor, also a physician, will perform a proctologic exam in his office in the morning. Having had one before, I’m anxious.

The vibrant setting of this dream, the evening service at the black church, opens my psyche to hidden disorders that require identification and correction. The occasional constipation keeps my body/mind starved of vital nutrients, dulls my perceptions, and dumps me within the morass of sloth: Why bother?

The pastor bridges the gap between God’s presence and the worshipers in his black church: such engagement restores disorders that sludge human interactions and quickens spirits into living flames. On my own, I’m powerless to achieve the wholeness to which I aspire.

Yet, I’m anxious. Given my long-standing pride, it’s painful to admit my arrogance and willfulness, smirches upon my character for all to behold. For much of my life, pretense kept such disorders at bay; whenever aware of them, I barely nodded at their toxicity.

Since working the Twelve Steps in Recovery, however, such disclosures become frequent cries to Higher Power to effect the necessary changes. This is precisely the task of spirituality.

With the afflicted Job (10:6), I identify with his cry to God: You must search out my faults and probe after my sin. Such purification works: It’s about becoming humble and serving others.

Sunshine streaming through the Christmas holly shrub outside my bedroom window enlivened the wing back chair with sprightly shadows, on holiday. It was seven-thirty, morning. I blinked hard, checked my watch again, and grinned. Only moments before had I turned out the lamp and snuggled beneath the flannel sheets and comforter and began my mantra, “Passion of Christ, strengthen Malaysian women sexually abused on palm oil plantations.” Then, it had been nine o’clock.

Methodically, I began stretching exercises, upon my back, while reflecting upon this marvel of marvels: I had slept through the night. No dry mouth, no bathroom breaks, no hunger spells, no strong dreams, no elbow or foot pain, no worries about tomorrow—above all, not scrutinizing the hours of the clock, like the watchman in the psalm yearning for dawn and release from the menacing dark. Only flitting dream of helping others flitted in and out of awareness.

I recognized the gift of sleep and gave thanks for last night’s willingness to exercise, despite blithering fatigue. Perhaps, that’s what made the difference, or thrilling to Jules Massenet’s incidental music, or perhaps taking the “Cocktail,” for months, the same dose: 0.3 Morphine and 0.3 Lorazapan.

Whatever it was, I slept, and the sun seems brighter today.

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