Each time I knock on a patient’s door at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House, I wonder what is happening on the other side. I never know quite what to expect. I take a deep breath, walk in, and ask if they – the family, the patient – need anything. Sometimes it’s obvious that I’m not needed. So, I go to the next room.
Other times, when the patient is alone or a single family member sits by the bed, they often say, “No, I don’t need anything.” I stand there and count in my head “One Mississippi. Two Mississippi.” And then, the stories start.
Many of the people I visit are facing the hardest thing they’ve ever done. They want to talk about their illness but mostly, they want to talk about their lives: where they lived, who showed up for the hard stuff, who loved them, who they loved, what they loved to do, the bread their grandma baked, the soul food they miss.
What a wonderful honor that I am given – a front row seat to lives well-lived, lives cut short, lives of pain and of joy.
Hospice Austin Volunteer