I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy as magnolias.

We may act sophisticated and worldly but I believe we feel safest when we go inside ourselves and find home, a place where we belong and maybe the only place we really do.

The difference between standard medical care and hospice is not the difference between treating and doing nothing, she explained. The difference was in the priorities. In ordinary medicine, the goal is to extend life. We’ll sacrifice the quality of your existence now-by performing surgery, providing chemotherapy, putting you in intensive care-for the chance of gaining time later. Hospice deploys nurses, doctors, chaplains, and social workers to help people with a fatal illness have the fullest possible lives right now-much as

As Miriam released my hand I felt that she and Midwife Bell had returned to a more primitive world, where men never intruded and even their role in conception was unknown. Here the chain of life was mother to daughter, daughter to mother. Fathers and sons belonged in the shadows with the dogs and livestock, like the retriever growling at Midwife Bell’s unfamiliar car from the window of my neighbours’ living room.

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