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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.

At 6 AM., I awoke with this dream:

I’m alone, content. I put my whole heart into singing lullabies until I no longer recall the next verse. Then, I recite nursery rhymes that I remember; their melodies and rhythms and repetitions tinkle, within, like my neighbor’s wind chimes.

A soothing dream, its story is unlike any I’ve experienced. I appear well, having sufficient breath to support both singing and reciting; their rhythms and repetitions lighten and enlarge my world. My bloodshot eyes smile, unlike my usual glum look when alone.

Within my psyche exists a caregiver, intent upon helping me befriend my terminally ill body and relax into each moment, despite death’s shortening them—A unique time in my life, I can only do this once.

But there was a time when I had belted out “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” marveling how the nursery rhyme echoed off the walls of my study. My Pilates coach recommended this practice to increase the stamina and volume in my speech. It worked for a while until, too fatigued, I stopped. 

However, the gift of this morning’s dream implanted these nurturing ditties within my unconscious and reminds to pull one of them out whenever overwhelmed—Like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” reminding me to gently pull for my body needs and access Higher Power’s grace for the next challenge. After all, it’s only a stream…

One year has passed since signing up for hospice for which I am still eligible, per Medicare’s guidelines for participation. Aside from my lung issues, my advanced age also qualifies me.

That first week of hospice was overwhelming. In and out of my front door streamed hospice staff, each with their expertise: the nurse’s explanation of hospice with its multiple forms requiring my signature, the social worker’s information about burial plans and agencies with paid caregivers, and the chaplain with spiritual balm for my frazzled spirit. In and out of my front door also streamed deliveries of a concentrator, six tanks of oxygen, and a portable oxygen tank, followed by Mucinex from hospice’s pharmacy. My lawyer, funeral director, and Pastor also visited and received the final touches for my burial plans. Then, my phone kept ringing with teary-eyed friends.

Admittedly, that week of high drama felt like forced feeding, all the more painful because of flying high on an inappropriate dose of Dexamethasone, “the little blue pill,” mentioned in my early blogs.

Then, days, weeks, months passed, with ninety-day visits from the nurse practioner to evaluate my decline that warranted the continuation of hospice. Last spring’s additional helpers for personal care firmed my case.

Blogging this process has left a trail of new learning: books reviewed, seasonal changes outside my study window, significant dreams, vignettes of helpers, emerging sense of my mortality, prayers, together with my recovery work in Chronic Pain Anonymous.

The fact remains—I’ve not died! And there appears little clinical evidence that this will happen soon. 

So I’ve re-framed my sense of dying to that of living in the body of an old woman, a time of low drama with languorous phases of soul-looking at the significant. Such surrender will inform my blogs with content larger in scope than what I’ve produced. That’s my hope.

Thanks for your continuing interest.

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