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There is a beautiful milkweed bush in the garden outside of room 4 at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House. It’s in full bloom right now, full of red and yellow flowers. Recently, Joyce,* the loved one of Hospice Austin patient Bob* in Room 4, was sitting on the patio and noticed a caterpillar struggling to form a chrysalis on the wall. She watched it, and then saw the milkweed bush was full of caterpillars. She showed the staff.

Soon staff, family members and other patients came to look at the caterpillars and chrysalis. There was a group of volunteers coming from Dell to work in the garden, so a sign was put up above the chrysalis to protect it and keep it safe.  The mystery and the miracle of the life cycle, embodied in the chrysalis, riveted everyone.

Later in the day, Joyce was out on her patio with the Hospice Austin’s Christopher House chaplain and social worker. The chrysalis was a beautiful jade color. She said, “It seems like a good sign that the caterpillar chose this spot.” She pointed to the wall and then to Bob’s room. “There’s a transformation going on right here, and there’s a transformation going on right there.”

Bob died the next day.  When the Monarch butterfly emerged from its chrysalis, the staff named it after him.  The Monarch stayed where it was for several hours, fanning its wings and growing stronger for its journey across the Gulf.  And then it flew away.

At Hospice Austin, we witness transformations every day – physical, emotional, and spiritual. The mystery and the miracle never diminishes.  Thank you for helping us create a safe place for these transformations.

Marjorie Mulanax
Hospice Austin Executive Director

note: names have been changed to protect patient privacy

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