The maternity unit is most often filled with wonderful news, with hope, with the anticipation of a life to be lived, of dreams to be developed, of potential to be realized.
The hospice floor is a place of endings, of letting go, of saying goodbye, of memories of a life lived, of sad news.
Between them is life, where dreams are realized or lost, where love is found and lost and found again, where families are built, where memories are made.
I read a book recently about a man who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in his late thirties, a brilliant surgeon with a bright future. As he adjusted to his diagnosis, to chemo, to the loss of dreams, to the loss of the life he and his wife had planned, his oncologist challenged him to determine what he valued and to expend his energy, the energy and time he had remaining on what he valued.
If I was given the news I had 10 years or 5 years or 3 years or 6 months or 3 months to live, where would I want to expend my energy and time? What would I want to do? Who would I want to be with? What legacy would I want to leave behind?
The man in the book chose to finish his residency, create a daughter with his wife, write the book I read, and love his family and friends. The journey for each of us will be different. Identifying what we value, where we want to spend our remaining energy and time is a deeply personal process.
I haven't received news about how much longer I have to live, still I want to live a life of meaning, of focus, of value. I want to leave a legacy that matters. Pondering these questions, determining values, is an important part of the journey to leaving a legacy that matters.