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August’s riot is underway: black-eyed susans with clusters of golden-blackness erupting from formal gardens, country roadsides, and cracks in pavements. Hearty, boisterous, the wildflowers appear like gossips, their petelled heads leaning toward one another, with occasional breezes disturbing the configurations. At intervals, snappish rainstorms pelt the flowers, affixed to thick hairy stems. With the sun’s reappearance, the resulting mishmash slowly diminishes, and the gossips resume their chatter, with even more verve.

With the advent of autumn, black-eyed susans lose their petals, their cone centers hardening with seeds, with promise of spring’s proliferation. Even their colors lend their gold to maples, aspens, and tulip trees; to waning sunlight outlining blackened limbs.

And another year passes. This has been a good one.

It is a serious thing

just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in this broken world.

from Red Bird (2009), by Mary Oliver

Such words zing rhythms within creek bottoms, ooze exhilaration into hidden recesses of psyche, trickle down arroyos, and imprint joy upon freckled noses. Such has been my experience reading Mary Oliver’s poetry over the years.

Of special significance are these poetic words from Red Bird in the wake of last night’s absence of dreams. The dark has never been so dark. Within its grip, I felt throttled, locked within a turnabout, tumbled about in a washing machine—there was no surcease as hours limped across the face of the clock in my bedroom. Nor did exercises impinge upon the madness. Nor did prayer to Whomever, Whatever. Dry eye precluded reading. Only dawn’s whispers broke the spell and released me within exhaustion that clung like the virgin’s bower vine, sweetening fences, trellises.

Such agitation bespeaks of grief, a first for me, and leaves me with questions: Is it appropriate to dull such a trouncing with Haldol or go without and experience the lessons, therein? And what were those lessons? Certainly my powerlessness was paramount—It’s one thing to speak of it, even write about it, but another to experience it in the marrow of my bones.

Could this be the first of other thrashings, still to come, before my transition?

Yet, in this morning’s dawn my aliveness thrums. True, my old body and the world are broken, but no matter. There will be healing as Mary Oliver intuits in her poem: it just has to be held to our hearts—Song happens.

It was last Sunday morning, around 7:30 A.M., when this dream startled me:

It is evening. I am alone, leaving a conference room, my arms filled with notebooks and texts. As I make my way down the empty corridor toward the garage, I feel great weakness consuming me. My legs feel rubbery. Terrified, I look for someone or some thing to hold on to. I am crumpling, the carpeted floor fast approaching me.

 The dream alerted me to my true circumstances, having barely managed my self-care, the previous day. I needed more help to remain safely in my home and reluctantly made the necessary arrangements, given my penchant for solitude.

During the following week, the hospice nurse and chaplain visited, recognized my deepening weakness and shortness of breath, then ordered medical equipment and supplies to convert my bedroom into a sick room. My end time seemed eminent. Accordingly, I took to my wonderful bed, never moving about on my wheeled walker unless supervised. My strengthening and deep breathing exercise ceased.

With my power of attorney, I also finalized the last of my business, notified my lawyer, broker, and accountant of this change that may or may not lead to the death of my body at this time. Family, friends, and neighbors were also advised, unleashing torrents of love and prayer. All seemed ready, but for what? When?

Then, my sister Martha arrived from out of state and for the past two days we laughed and shared stories, as only sisters can do.

And this evening’s phone call with a CPA buddy helped me understand the emotional bottom from which I’m emerging, that such experiences can occur before the last one that leads to the death of the body. So just relax when the next one comes and ride it out.

So, reduced to zero energy, more short of breath, I’m adjusting to the new normal with spirited round-the-clock helpers. My blogs will continue, as I am able …

I did piss others when I cancelled the hospital bed and other equipment—perhaps for a later time.

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