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The Cut Flower Lesson

I usually sit next with my patients when I have the luxury to write handwritten narrative notes or add an item to the constantly burgeoning lists of supplies for things we need to care for our hospice patients.  Today I chose to sit next to a lovely woman who was admitted two days ago. I hadn’t had the time to get to know her, so this was a treat for me to calmly sit and listen to her stories, or simply sit and witness her humanity.

I’d noticed that she had lots of flower arrangements on her windowsill and in plastic cups on her bedside table. The nurse aide put a nice thick coat of persimmon colored lipstick on her lips and she plucked a flower from one of the vases and used her own bobby-pin to adhere the little antique pink highly scented rose to her hair.

I love gardening, so after I tuned in to whether she was able to make the effort and  create the emotional space to welcome conversation, I quietly opened the metal folding chair and did a small bow, then took five quiet, deep breaths to honor the flowers.

She noticed my love for the flowers and gave me an endearing smile. I can see her as I write this. Then she said the most profound words:

“We should be more like those cut flowers.”

“Oh?” I said.

“Just because their roots were cut out from under them and they were transported to an unknown climate with flowers and plants unlike them, they still blossom and elicit love, smiles and a heavenly scent. Don’t you think?”

I thought I was going to cry all day.

I’ve shared this story with scores of people. I know that what she taught me in that short conversation is living way beyond her mortal life

For this, I am grateful.

Go with grace, Mrs. B., thank you.

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