I was quite close to achieving the goal that I had set at what now seems so many years ago in a little bungalow in Wilmington, North Carolina. After leaving my corporate hospice job, my desire was to create awareness regarding the underfunded and over-regulated end-of-life services. I wanted to visit all the fifty states in America, hoping to garner support for my appeal for a Congressional Hearing on March 04, 2021. I wanted to create a foundation for those on the front lines (within hospice, death doula work, palliative care, and other innovative services created to serve those with serious illnesses) to share their voice with those regulating their practice. My goal was two-fold: 1.) To empower community members to reclaim their voice within the medical community and think about their lives and deaths while considering how to reclaim death as a human event and not a medical event; 2.) To empower the individuals working in the end-of-life field to reclaim how we practice from Washington DC. and tell our stories in order to reclaim a connection with those facing a serious illness.
It has now been seven days since I arrived back in my home state. I was making plans to travel to Utah, Montana, Washington, Alaska, Michigan, and Hawaii when COVID-19 stopped everyone in their tracks. I sat in Amelia, in Raleigh, North Carolina, disappointed that the tour was cut short due to the virus. I found myself in complete shock that the tour had officially ended. I was also a little lost and confused and a whole lot scared.
I remember reading somewhere, “Beginnings are scary, and endings are always a little sad, but it is the middle that counts.” And I must admit, the statement has given me a little spark of hope because I can still recall the fear that I felt at the beginning of this tour. Further, driving a 29ft RV, hauling my car behind, and mapping out a 49-state driving tour was absolutely scary. Now, saying goodbye without achieving my goal makes me very sad. But the middle . . . Oh, man, the middle . . . was truly epic! What made it epic were all the people I met along the way, who housed, supported, hired, fed, and believed in me and my vision. Nevertheless, it was all the unbelievable stories they shared with me that radically changed my life, my heart, and my soul. It is sort of funny now that I think about it . . . I thought I was doing this driving-tour to improve end-of-life care, but in the end, it actually changed me for the better. Further, ever since I arrived back home, many have reached out to express that even though the tour did not achieve its intended goal, it was still successful. Maybe you’re right as the tour did not fail entirely in that it did create the small moments that we all know, in the end, become the BIG moments that define our lives.
I, now, find myself at a new beginning. And, it is also scary. The fear of the unknown and the questions of what is next are filling my head. Yet, I remind myself that all beginnings are scary. Thus, I must look forward to the middle, which, I truly BELIEVE, will not disappoint.
Maybe it is the unplanned journeys that take us to right where we need to be. We must HOPE, BELIEVE, and TRUST in a greater purpose. I guess we all need to take a moment and give HOPE a chance. What I know for sure (after finally catching up on sleep with no map in front of me for the first time in 24 months) is that my CUP is quite FULL.