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I can’t do this anymore! I admitted to myself, gripping my cane. Like stricken puppies, my legs, refused to move, despite my commanding them to do so. I was beached, immobile, furious, a storm crashing within me.

I had already checked into the YMCA, was sucking a lemon cough drip, and was standing at my usual start position by the entrance. Ahead of me stretched the wide corridor; its recessed lighting reflecting upon the floor had helped me maintain balance the four months I’d been coming here. My helper waited for me to begin my customary walk toward the gym and the exercise room, her shadowing each step lest I fall.

That was three days ago, an experience that left me floundering in self-pity, one of the faces of grief.

It’s all about acceptance: my terminal illness has taken another hit—and there have been many—but not as pronounced as this one: Weakness like I’ve never experienced, shortness of breath that worsens speech production, and muscle loss that rouses issues of disease gnawing away at my body, despite still eating full meals prepared by helpers or brought by friends.

Yes, there’s change. Rather than use my cane, I rely upon my wheeled walker to get about—It’s slower but still works. Happily, I’m still able to blog the ongoing experience of my terminal illness, and if appropriate, I will return to the Y’s NuStep and exercise my legs—not to walk as before, of course, but to keep going, one day at a time with Precious God’s help. Besides, I’ve friends there.

Twelve days into the structural collapse and later demolition of the North and South Chaplain Condominium in Surfside, Florida, the stories still seep into psyche like fine silt, sated with grief. This is too much, we gripe. Not this!

Denial, however, cushions its full impact for those close by and elsewhere. True, death has always been around, especially in our violent, disease-ridden world. But the magnitude of the Surfside disaster mirrors the sights, sounds, and smells of a war zone, comparatively few have experienced. 

Only today did I remember a response to all of this—the psychologist Dr. Edith Fiore who presented highlights of twenty years of research in her study, The Unquiet Dead (1987). Numerous afflicted clients flocked to her counseling room, complaining of unusual symptoms, likened to loved ones, snatched by death, “like the thief in the night.” Under therapeutic hypnosis, Dr. Fiore relieved these disorders and helped the too-quickly-dead in their transition to the next life; their unpreparedness had led them to become earthbound and seek a host body.

Later today, I listened to Samuel Barber’s Adagio of Strings (1938) that peaked in a luminous interlude, the strings shimmering in light: it felt like spirits rejoicing in their ascension. God does have a way of working things out …

Let us remember the Champlain Tower victims, especially those stuck in transition, and their loved ones in prayer.

Stench has eviscerated vision, steeled hearts, and besmirched our land. The Holy weeps.

With the Psalmist, we pray:

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

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