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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.

“Hey, Tracy, I’ve changed my mind about the cocktail. It might help,” I said into the baby monitor tied to the head of my bed. Behind me, blinds filtered the porch light around my bed, the comforter tossed aside. In no time, flip-flops patterned the hardwood floor and my helper appeared by my bed. I continued. “I thought I’d be okay with my nebulizer treatment, the deep breathing exercises, and my oxygen, but not tonight. I need help.”

My long history of having taken ineffective drugs for rheumatoid arthritis quelled their further taking after 1997. Until last November, I had managed well enough with supplements, diet, and exercise. Then, the diagnosis of my terminal illness qualified me for hospice and their use of palliative drugs. And last night I needed the cocktail—low doses of Lorazapan and morphine—to relax and help me breath.

With deft hands, Tracy emptied the prefilled syringes into my mouth and helped settle me in bed before turning out the light, not leaving without our hug.

Within the warmth of my comforter, I awaited the mellow rush of the cocktail, evidence of its soothing presence and forerunner of sleep’s oblivion, which I had experienced four other times, but nothing was happening. My body remained tense as I watched quarter-hours pass.

Weary as the wife of the Patriarch Methuselah, I parked against the side of my bed and began deep breathing and rocking. Eventually, I stopped counting repetitions—only my body knew how many.

Enough, I heard, then climbed into bed before wrapped within oblivion’s mantel.

Seven hours later I awoke to the aroma of quinoa that Tracy was cooking for my breakfast. Another day of new learning opened before me.

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