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Hospice Poet Wins National Contest

Our own Spiritual Care Counselor, Bette Birnbaum, submitted the following poem to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization creative arts contest and won! We are so proud and honored that’s she’s part of our team!


Initial Visit

The nurse says,
I will walk with you
through a land you do not yet know.
I will ease your pain
and help you breathe easy.
I will bind up your wounds
and be for you and the ones you love
a source of truth and succor,
a fount of compassion and confidence.

The hospice aide says,
I will be for you
like a mother eagle guarding her nest.
When you hunger,
I will provide food.
When you thirst,
I will provide drink.
I will dignify you,
smoothing your hair,
softening your skin,
and anointing you with fragrant oil.

The social worker says,
I will protect you as you journey
and keep you safe from all harm.
I will be for you
a sentry at your head and a guard at your tail.
With a strong hand and an outstretched arm
I will remove all obstacles in your way
and lift your precious beloveds
whenever they fall.

The chaplain says,
I will be an ear for your prayers
and a cradle for your comfort.
I will be with you
in the valley of deepest darkness,
a friend in green pastures and beside still waters.
I will share your overflowing cup
and together,
we will sip of your
deepest sorrows and greatest joys.

The patient says,
Here I am,
the beggar at the gate,
lame, mute,
my soiled rags
frayed and flapping in the hot wind.
With fear and trembling
I commit myself into your hands.

Teach me to number my days and shape a heart of wisdom
as you read me like a sacred scroll,
lauding and praising
glorifying and exalting
my Name.

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