Circle of Life


Tears. Sadness. Hope. Joy. Death. Life. Yesterday.

When my uncle, Robert Vern, was a young boy he accidentally stepped on the teeth of a rake that was hidden in tall grass. The handle of the rake rose up and hit him in the head causing traumatic brain injury that left my uncle brain damaged and battling epilepsy for the rest of his life. My uncle lived with my family for many years. When he was diagnosed with cancer he fought bravely, but lost the battle at age 68. At 6’4″, he was a lot of body to physically protect and care for and the loving staff at Horizon House (hospice) did so with such great gentleness and professionalism. I spent many hours with my uncle in his room and at the dining table at Horizon House during the last few weeks of his life…and I was there with his body during the middle of the night just after he passed.

Yesterday, when I turned the corner onto Neptune Blvd. to attend the open house for Chrysalis Cove, formerly known as Horizon House (hospice), tears welled up in my eyes and my throat constricted with emotion. The last time I had been to this house, Oct. 14, 2006 1:45 am, was to gather my uncle’s belongings and oversee the moving of his body.

As Sheri Boelter, Executive Director of Tumbleweed Runaway Program, spoke to the crowd at the opening of this home now a safe haven for homeless youth, a big, beautiful yellow and black butterfly flew in a circular formation from one end of the front of the house to the other. As I watched this butterfly I thought of my uncle and how my grandparents and parents could have thought the challenges that came with his brain damage were just too much to deal with and could have either institutionalized him or turned their backs on him and left him to either fend for himself or others to care for, but they chose to love him through the hard times and to keep him part of their family unit. My mom always chose to embrace him with a loving home and family.

Tears. Sadness. Hope. Joy. Death. Life. Yesterday.

As I embraced a young girl — the first to move into this home — I thought of my uncle and I thought of her future and smiled as I handed her a snow cone.





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