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Routines are like pages in a book whose material inspires, entertains, and instructs. Skilled in the craft and art of bookmaking, authors nuance the next right word to carry their project forward, until the work is completed.

I liken the routine I follow, daily, to this process. At first it was awkward to string the components together, not knowing what was wrong who me. For several years, what I call picky eaters or symptoms, have lodged in my lungs gnawing on my limited energy and enveloping me in more symptoms, especially inertia and shortness of breath.

The eventual diagnosis, ILD with RA, set the necessary pacing and parameters for living in this aging body. I learned timely pauses interspersed among activities of daily living. I learned to accept help with personal care and meal preparation, with its clean-up. I learned to rest/sleep atop my bed when wipe-out reduced me to inactivity. Such patterned each day within the doable routine of my housebound status.

However, the progression of my terminal illness has mandated major adjustments: use of continuous oxygen, the use of a speech amplifier to increase the volume of my voice, the dependence upon my walker, longer night-sleep maintained by low doses of liquid morphine and Lorazapan, and recently, time-released doses of morphine, 24/7, to help me breathe—all within my flexible routine.  

Like authors at the end of their day, I’m glad to let go of my routine, until the following morning. It’s working, with God’s help.

March’s sunrays play the comedian, intent upon joshing buds erupting from rough canes of the forsythia bush next to my porch. For seven springs I have gloried in its abrupt flowering, fingered its yellow bell-shaped blossoms, studied its rain-soaked pendant shapes shielding reproductive parts, sorrowed over storms splatting spent-yellows within pools of mud; then, later noted its fruit: several winged seeds in dry capsules.

Such was also my experience of tangled mounds of forsythias in the nearby woods when able to walk the cinder path: their color wafting me to a wordless realm, their untidiness transporting me to a strange order that made total sense.

Yet, the process of unfolding happened too quickly, multiple lessons held over to the following year, if I remembered—Perhaps this year will be different.

It had been one month, then, one week, now only four days before New Year’s Eve, with its frantic preparations for get-togethers or travel, with its review and planning for 2022. It feels like hurtling through time, with nothing substantial for support. Gossamer strands, multicolored like candy canes, tickle imaginations, tumble words, and befuddle days of the week. What ever happened to 2021?

Standing below a maple, its nakedness articulated against the blue sky, I’ve heard myself say, let’s snapshot this, tuck it away in memory. So beautiful! Like nothing I’ve seen before! Yet, however strong the impression, it’s lost within the recesses of my psyche, perhaps to be savored in a later dream.

I feel this way toward the old lilac shrub outside my study window. In what seems like a slit second, it has displayed its full cycle of budding, of splitting greenery, of heady blossoms morphing into tissue-paper browning, of killing winds stripping the bug-eaten leaves, leaving winter’s dormant presence. Each snapshot of the shrub’s cycle nudged Creator God in my depths; they are all there.

Such transformation speaks of my own that manifests in dreams, prayer, and other “O!” moments, even words that surface from my word processor, realm of my Inner Writer.

So, all of life is energized by the Sacred and through course corrections, both sweet and bitter, keeps everything cycling through its growth and diminishment and regrowth—everything in good order. 

Now on the down side of life, I still offer thanks for what is left, despite time’s curlicues.

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