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Although my symptoms continue constricting my life experience to the bare-bones essential, vibrant life still streams through my study windows. Through one of them, male cardinals have flitted among branches of the summer snowflake viburnum, possibly scouting a suitable place for a nest—Seems like they did that last year.

This morning, two females, their beaks filled with a single twig and bleached grasses, hovered over the designated site, dropped their loads, their getaways, a flurry of reddish-browns. Indeed, another nest is in progress. That also means yellow-mouthed fledglings, anxious feedings—insects, partially digested earthworms, around the clock.

The return of mating cardinals in my backyard also carries spiritual significance, especially as my end-time plays out.

With their reddish plumage, they stir deeper courage facing life’s challenges. They also serve as spirit guides, as models for embracing instinctive obedience to cyclical cues of life, and for activating the root chakra, red in color, that brings up emotions and beliefs around loyalty and a sense of belonging. 

Cardinals’ mating for life speaks of God’s unconditional love for all creation. They can also show up as a positive omen for finding your soul mate or twin flame, any time during the life span. 

Never having experienced death in my body before, other than obvious signs of aging, I’ll be specially companied during the coming weeks. I’m deeply moved …

Whoa! Would you look at that? I mumbled, supporting myself against the vanity in the bathroom. My brown jeans, still buttoned, had slipped over my hips and pooled around my bare feet—evidence of more weight loss.

Unlike many, my weight had never been a problem, given the onset of rheumatoid arthritis in the 1960s and my adoption of the Paleo diet; disregarding it added additional knee pain and swelling. But dropping a pound here or there, in recent years, alarmed me since I was unable to regain them.

The eventual diagnosis of ILD with rheumatoid arthritis named the underlying disorder, but the weight loss was slow in manifesting, until recently. 

Whenever I needed alterations in the past, I resorted to a South Korean Dry Cleaners in my neighborhood—nothing fancy but it served my needs. Besides my brown jeans, faded from many washings, others especially my tan ones—my favorite—needed also critical stitching, not that I was going anywhere.

For days, I obsessed over transportation, the energy available for the fitting, the cramped quarters of the dry cleaners, and my ability to maneuver on my walker. Ordering new pants on line was not an option because of my height. Finally, all was arranged for yesterday afternoon, but I was too weak to go.

So, what happened when I opened the door of my bedroom closet this morning, long cleared out of clothing, in preparation for my demise in 2019? Hanging among other light-colored pants was another tan pair I had used only for travel to Gloucester, Massachusetts. I’d forgotten that I’d bought them it at J Jill’s, size 4, long, years ago. The fit is still perfect.

So, no need to fret. Precious God takes care of all my wants, even clothing until there’s no need.

Nothing like a folk tale to engage imaginations and enlarge the world around us—Such is the Brothers Grimm’s Town Musicians of Bremen (1819), still enjoyed by young hearts, six years old or ninety.

The story begins with an aging donkey, decrying his master’s displeasure over his slowness in pulling the cart to market. Rather than face probable death, the donkey flees to Bremen where he will become a musician.

On the road he meets a weary dog, fire thinning his bones. No longer able to hunt, he fears being put down by his master. But the donkey’s invitation to make music sparks his interest and he climbs onto his back.

Next they meet a cat with a face “like three rainy days.” She fears her mistress’s 

drowning, because blunted teeth prevent her from catching mice in their cottage. She, too, joins them.

Then a rooster crowing with all its might causes them to pause along the road. They learn that cook will cut off his head and prepare him for tomorrow’s dinner. He, too, welcomes the invitation and they continue on toward Bremen.

Although the story contains other adventures, I want to focus upon the four friends, so human in their fears of aging and the specter of death. Happily, the donkey sees beyond his fate and chooses an alternative: making music for others. So inspired he is that others choose similarly and climb onto his back and head for Bremen where everyone loves music.

It’s about discovering and developing meaning in life that keeps us fresh—even living with a terminal illness. I have found it so.

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