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The Glowing Leaves of Shedding Trees

Updated: Apr 15, 2020

You haven’t truly experienced the beauty of Autumn until you’ve seen it through the eyes of a dying man.

I inevitably cultivate friendships with some of the residents I visit with during my weekly volunteer shift at the a local hospice. There is a specific man with whom I have grown quite close who, for the sake of discretion, we will call Sage.

On days when the sky is clear and Sage has the energy to get out of bed we take our conversations of life and death out on a walk. On this particular afternoon, he hadn’t been out of bed for over a week and was delighted at the prospect of not only having a day of minimal pain, but also a favored companion to escort him out into the Autumn air.

The hospice is nestled up against a residential neighborhood, and in the Pacific Northwest, one does not have to wander far in any direction to observe the beauty of nature, so we pointed ourselves towards the houses and gardens for a slow and steady stroll around the block.

Every few steps into our stroll, Sage would gasp and point out a tree glowing with bright yellow or deep red leaves or exclaim over the clearness of the sky. As he paused to place his head directly into the scattered golden orange and red leaves of an overhanging bush with the intent of being enveloped in sensation, the beauty and sweet sadness of the situation struck me. This will be this man’s final Autumn in this lifetime. He is breathing in the beauty of the season as deeply as he can because he will not have another chance next year. As this thought entered my mind, the colors began to glow more brightly for me as well. I began to collect small branches of leaves, ferns, and late blooming flowers of every color possible. When we returned to Sage’s room I found our wildcrafted bouquet a home in an old Kombucha bottle and placed it on his windowsill so that he could experience the colors of our magical outing a little longer.

I am one who makes a conscious effort in life to take the time to pause and observe the beauty in the world, but I had never seen nature quite so glorious until I saw it through a dying man’s eyes.

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