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“Well, it’s official, Liz,” the hospice nurse said, her smiling dark eyes peering over her mask. I sensed good news coming as she unzipped her sleeveless quilted vest and sat opposite the Valentine bouquet on my dining room table. “Medicare has re-certified you until mid-April. Another will follow, but unlike before, there will be no hesitation—you’re finally beginning to look like a hospice patient, both in our records and in your person.”

She was right. Despite eating regularly, my weight continues to drop due to poor metabolism sloughing off the nutrients. Other than smaller pants my sister bought me last November, I’m loathe to replenish what’s hanging in my closet. My belt buckle holds everything together and keeps me presentable. Bulky sweaters of many colors cover a lot. Rather than pitch an old pair of blonde corduroys, this morning, my helper patched the hole in the seat; such still keeps February’s nip at bay.

Besides, my new slimness is quite the fashion, from what I observe online.

When I reflect upon my clothes history, a close look at trends had directed my choices and expended money, better used for other things, especially charities that I traipsed by. Only in later years, the ugliness of department store clothing drove me to significant finds at Goodwill or the Scholarshop.

Aside from this trivia about clothing, a time will come when I step outside of time and have no need of clothing. For the present, though, it’s about preparing my wedding garment, one day at a time. This, I cannot do alone.

At 5 A.M., I woke to this curious dream:

I’m healthy, enthused by my entrance into an ancient monastery located in a mountainous region surrounded by virgin forests. I’m wearing the long brown homespun robe and belt of the monks as I follow them toward an open meadow for a meeting with the Abbott. Everyone receives a paper, printed in green that outlines today’s activities including the reminder to sign up for the Covid vaccine.

In the dream, I’m very fit, eager to participate in my new lifestyle among hundreds of monks in this ancient monastery, symbol of enclosure with the Sacred. With them, I expect to practice balanced disciplines of prayer, study, and work, within the rule of silence. Further engaging my whole spirit is the natural beauty of this setting: varied snow-covered peaks, scented pines, wild flowers, and birds songs, and so much more.

That I am the only woman, garbed in the long brown homespun robe and belt of the monks, seems to make no difference to this large community. It never occurred me to request more feminine attire; the robe I was given scratches my shoulders.

In the dream, I do not see the Abbott, but feel his presence through the paper, printed in green, with his directives: The Covid vaccine gives me pause.

The dream’s intent eludes me, given my return to health. On the one hand, there’s my enthusiastic response to this new way of living; on the other, its patriarchal underpinnings—their rules of silence and orders of day—do little to enhance my relationships with the Sacred and others.

Despite increased symptoms, perhaps I’m not to let go of my writing altogether.

It came unexpectedly in November 2019: to blog experiences about my terminal illness, Interstitial Lung Disease with Rheumatoid Arthritis and its corresponding hospice support. The decision left me queasy, bereft of words, uncertain how to proceed: what to share and what to leave out, ever mindful of my readers already following my Heartwhisperings blog, posted on Wednesdays since 2011. But I had to act, knowing the Source of the decision. I was not to worry—a topic for each day would emerge.

So with my words still slippery, I began. Ahead of me yawned the great unknown. To spend time in that realm required discipline, silence, patience, and prayer. A regular there, the perimeters of living fully, each day, with a terminal illness began to emerge—The adventure was getting texturally rich.

With weakness and shortness of breath enervating me, however, the blogs will be less frequent.

To bolster this acceptance, I happened upon Like Shaking Hands with God – a conversation about writing (1999): The transcription of two authors, Kurt Vonnegut and Lee Springer sharing the exigencies of their craft. Their intimacy within the dark realm of the psyche resonates in Vonnegut’s novels of humor and science fiction and in Springer’s memoir, Grand Central Winter – Stories from the Street (1998).

Both writers believe in the redemptive power of literature and urge writers to incorporate significant change in the lives of their characters, given the frailty of the human condition. From such writers, learning is deep.

Both also concur that the best writing teems from the unconscious, when writers have no plan what to write, only the mandate to show up at one’s word processor and listen. The words come. Such has been my experience, as well.

I’m grateful to have blogged this path as long as I have. My transition depends upon it. I will continue …

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