The Sum of all Things


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I spend a lot of time contemplating end-of-life issues. It’s my job. My calling. The burden and privilege that I bear if you will. Perhaps once again, I am drawn to the life of my “girls”- the honeybees for lessons on living the days we are given with grace and dignity. Honeybees are hardwired to live out their purpose from the moment they hatch until that final hour when they depart this world. They spend their days preparing for the next generation, from tending and feeding the brood so prolifically laid by the queen; carrying out the mundane and myriad housekeeping tasks; feeding the queen and spreading her pheromone to the rest of the hive through mutual grooming; guarding the entrance to the hive from foreign or robber bees and other potential marauders, and- finally-graduating to the exalted and elevated status of foraging for nectar and pollen. The foragers are the artisans of honey. They decide what flowers to sip from, thus influencing the final flavour of this intoxicating treat. How does this relate to end-of-life? Each one of us has a given pathway that we must walk. And we are all given tasks to accomplish- tasks that affect not only our own character, but the well-being of those we live with. Our choices along the way can be compared to the flowers that our entomological colleagues alight upon. Our choice of experience affects the flavour of our spirit/soul, and thus how we wind up nourishing those we encounter along the way. I am fed by my patients, and my patients are fed by me. There is not much that separates me from them. There is a saying that “all roads lead to Rome..”. In a group this morning, I remarked in an offhanded way that “all roads lead to hospice”. It took another person in the group to point out the truth of that statement. In the end, we are all going through the same door. Perhaps not in the same way, or time. Nevertheless, our destination is plain. And whether or not there is a world to come (which I sincerely hope there is), the sum of all these things is what I will be bringing with me, wrapped in the complex layers of my life’s experience. Experiences that have shaped and molded my character, and taught me wisdom that will- indeed, MUST-make the world and those within it the better for my having lived.

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