"I existed. I mattered. I left a mark. You may not know it by looking at me now, but once I was a person of significance."
That is what Lawrence (a pseudonym) seemed to be saying to me when I visited him in his home to discuss a video of his life story, a free service that Arbor Hospice provides for its patients and families.
Just a few years ago, in the fullness of his work and civic responsibilities and his family life, I would have been fortunate to have a few minutes of his time. Now, he did not want me to go even though we had already been together for an hour and a half planning his video.
Lawrence took me on a tour of his home to see the many products and symbols of his notable career and hobbies.
I was reminded once again that at life's end we are reduced to a small number of essentials - a few precious relationships and, if we are fortunate, a familiar room and skillful and compassionate healthcare providers.
Illness and impending death are great equalizers. They are journeys we all take; rich and poor, the famous and the unknown, and we essentially take those journeys alone, although we may take them in the presence of loved ones.
Lawrence and the other hospice patients I have been privileged to know as a volunteer remind me that we are all persons of significance in our life journeys.
At the end of life, we have mattered to family members, friends, coworkers and neighbors. We have stories to tell about the events of our lives that can instruct and inspire future generations.
Not only have we existed, we have left a mark, each in our own unique ways.
This blog entry was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice volunteer. You may contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.