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THOONK! An empty silence filled the kitchen and dread immersed me within its hairy tentacles. I had finally done it: splotches of applesauce on the kitchen floor, its loosened cap still in my hand.

With breakfast completed, I decided to put off the clean-up—however I would manage it. After sipping some lemon water at the sink, my not-fully-awake hand knocked over the pitcher onto the counter and floor, soaking my furry slip-ons. I was done.

Yet, instead of calling for my neighbor, I began to strategize: paper towels, a wet dish rag, my indispensable grabber, my bare feet, and my stool. No matter that I was weak and short of breath, I would take the needed time, apart from my routine. It would work, and it did.

So, what does this say about my commonsense, about my need for help, yet, going it alone? Often, I find myself in problems of my own making, the residue from decades of living in denial. Happily, this condition is lessening due to my continuing decline. Neighbors are only too delighted to help out whenever I ask.

Yet, doing it my way is still rooted in my psyche and speaks to an essential trust seamed with cracks and debris.

I’ve still much to learn about letting go and letting God take charge.  My transition requires it, or at least my willingness to learn with each spill, of whatever kind.

Words skitter as I plumb my depths. None seem to hang around for my use—as if they, too, were stunned by what happened.

It had stormed that evening, like being thrashed about in a washing machine, with no turn-off switch. An explosive crack sounded; then, the thud and splatter upon the street compelled me to my front window streaming with rain. Barely could I make out what happened. Shuddering seized me—It was my sweet gum tree.

Only at daybreak did I learn the full extent of the damage: the uppermost limb had been twisted off like a corkscrew; its lustrous leaves already crimping around the edges. With such an injury, the tree could no longer grow. The rest of it would have to come down.

Over fifteen years I had benefited from the sweet gum’s shade, its radiant greens and red-golds, its lofty branches, its symmetry enhancing my bungalow, even its gumballs I raked each March until I was unable.

The sweet gum’s demise accentuates the impermanence of life, including my own. Yet, its welcoming limbs, in all seasons, had heartened me, and I am grateful.

There will be another tree to replace the sweet gum, and eventually there will be shade, symbol of God’s protection and care.

Life is like a bend in the road, each turn challenging our mettle: from learning to suckle at the breast to inhaling our last breath.

It’s arduous work living within the approach of the bend, not fully knowing, but still trudging ahead. Met with welcomes and rejections, with health and sickness, with creative work and drudgery, wounds scrape encrusted barnacles from our dishonesty. We learn about humility, and serving others becomes more important than living within self-imposed limits. We learn that we are not God.

To our amazement, decades of life pass. Resilience orchestrates a lightshow upon these accomplished risk-takers who developed their full birthright. Such live within our midst and fill us with gladness, despite their slow footfalls and vintage clothing from another age.

For them, the bend in the road has become nearly full circle; their joy, deep as they make their life review, embroidered by multiple life-turns. Their transition toward the last turn follows, a cinch. 

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