Lewis writes to Shelburne on July 9, 1963:
“Our hearts, by the way, must be different. When yours is worst you have to lie flat. When mine was worst I had to sit up – night and day for months.
“By the way, as you come out I may possibly go in. Swollen ankles – the Red Light for me – have returned. I see the doctor about this tomorrow. My fear is that he will forbid me to go to Ireland on Monday as I had arranged, and put me back in hospital.
“Our friends might really get up a sweepstake as to whose train really will go first!...”
[All excerpts from letters taken from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Walter Hooper editor, Harper San Francisco.]
I share this excerpt, as I share many other excerpts in this focus on Near the Journey’s End, because it provides a sense of Lewis’s deteriorating health and his attitude toward the final season of his life. Lewis is occupied in living, in maintaining friendships, in correspondence, in reading; he hasn’t stopped living just because his body is giving him fits. His body is not his primary focus; he doesn’t ignore it, he doesn’t pretend that it isn’t a major factor in life; he gives the facts of his health when appropriate; but the man continues to live, his mind continues to work, Lewis continues to explore, to cultivate, to encourage, to love.
I wonder whether, when Lewis wrote above about “whose train will really go first” if he perhaps thought about the train wreck in the Last Battle, which was the means of transportation into the Real Narnia?