On my family medicine clerkship, some of my most cherished (and deeply moving) moments came from leading end-of-life care conversations with patients including designation of medical power of attorney and solidifying advance directives. Such dialogue continues to kindle my passion for geriatric care. However, the American medical system must do better to empower patients to understand the many medical services we can provide, including the demystification of hospice care and palliative care. No longer can we, in medicine and in society-at-large, continue to ignore death and dying as a natural part of life. This poem, "start the kettle," was written in reflection of such issues dear to my heart.
bolt the doors! lock them twice!
perhaps She will not come!
in such ignorance we find joy so temporary,
shaming and belittling Her
in our foolish feints to dodge Her.
we synonymize and mislabel Her,
costumed and ill-depicted.
Her presence is removed from our minds.
we cry that Her name will not pass our lips;
the Ostracized Outcast is unabashedly unwelcome
wake up! wake up unto new life! wake up, i beg!
you - who perceive this Woman as a Thief most vile
who will steal your finest jewels
what thief makes Herself known to all?
what thief knocks and rings the doorbell?
are you so blind? open your eyes!
She is no source of fear!
mistreat Her no more!
She is a mere constant - like gravity.
She greets us, one and all:
our shared Mistress
in the end of the big chase
or sobering self-retreat into Her arms.
She will be terribly apathetic
so long as you are of Her existence.
of course She shows up unexpected and uninvited!
we provide Her no directions to our house -
which way do you prefer? how should She find you?
it is easier to take the highway or the side roads?
These thoughts might molest the mind,
strip the soul, and harrow the heart -
but they need not.
if She must come,
start the kettle.
invite Her into your home when She arrives,
whenever that might be. She is busy, remember.
offer Her tea, and be a good host.
for, yes, She comes for you,
but may you go in peace with Her.