Seedling Choice

Oh, Happy Day!
The heirloom tomato seeds have sprouted
The first set of real leaves are present
It’s time!!
They get to stretch their branches
Sink further their roots
Even sprout adventitious roots
As they are planted into new rich soil
In their new homes.

But there is angst
Dwelling with joy
Mingling with life.

It seems accidental seeds
Were planted
There are sets of twins
Cohabiting in one bed
Growing side by side
Nearly Siamese in appearance.

Sadness clenches my throat
(Embarrassing to admit, yes!)
I must make a decision
Which one lives?
Do I try to save both?

Logic – rational thought
Tells me
“Cut off the weaker plant at its base.
Don’t disturb the roots”
The voice of reason admonishes
“You have too many plants already!”

A voice I call love
Speaks quietly
“If you separate them
Trying to save both
They both may die.”

I laugh silently
At my “dilemma”
Wishing in a way
That I was not so sensitive
To the life of a seedling
When there are such
Bigger problems
In our suffering world.

I decide to separate one set of twins
Giving them each a chance to survive
I mark their new containers - “Separated twin”
Call it science.

Then I move on to another pair
I press out the cube of starter soil
Planning to sacrifice the weaker plant
When Voila!
The soil plug breaks apart
Leaving the twins fully separated
I am relieved of the burden of choice!

As I continue to work in the dirt,
I reflect
On the pain suffered daily
As women make choices of far greater significance

Wherever one might position oneself
On the debate,
I wonder, can we agree
These women 
Who face their own momentous decisions
For reasons unknown to us
Reasons which dwell deeply in their hearts
These women
Deserve our compassion
Deserve our love?
We know not their grief
We know not their struggle.
But may they know our love.
May they know our compassion.


The trees stand sentry
Offering  themselves
As holders of the bodies

The earth, dry and dusty,
Hardened clay
Or fertile soil
Lies ready 
To receive,
To embrace
The boxed bodies.

The flowers contribute their beauty
Brightly colored
Spreading scent of life
Hiding ugliness of death.

What do I have to give?
Can my tears soothe from afar?
Can they heal or comfort
Our broken world?

When will it end?
Lives stolen
Out of control
When will it stop?

Innocent people slaughtered
The world over
Leaders choosing
War, greed, guns
Over people
NRA buying politicians
“I will protect your right to have guns. Any guns. Any guns.”
But they know not how
To protect our children
Children going to school
Picking up siblings at a home
People walking down the street
Enjoying parties, bars, churches
Time together
Gunned down.

Violence running rampant
Running free
While people are imprisoned behind walls trying to stay safe.

All races suffering
Some more than others
So much more
But we are all
The Human Race
WE weep for all
We get angry
We are confused
What can be done?
The powers that be 
In our country
Are stymied, stalemated

Political loyalty 
To an ideology
Blinding itself to the suffering
The endless tears shed

When will it stop?

Maybe, when we pause
Search our hearts
What is our role?
What gift might we bring to healing?
Remove the cynical scales of protection
The visors blocking our light
Speak for love, compassion
Shout out your, “No More!”

We must groan together
To be heard
People in power
Have you No Power?
No Courage?
No Heart?

Stand in front of these bullets.
Feel the pain,
The loss, the senseless violence.
Stand beside the children 
Stand with the mentally ill
Support, treat, make safe.

Weed the life's garden
Of this invasive violence.
It is taking over 
Choking out the good.
Pull the roots
Give room for new life.

Our tears are shed
To soothe pain
To nurture life
To acknowledge
That we are all one
In this Fragile Human Family.

We must find a way. 

Did He Know?

He humbly rode a donkey.
He came victoriously.
He came in peace.
The crowds called “Hosanna!”
He was exalted as “King of Israel”
They carpeted his path with their cloaks and green branches
They waved palm fronds
The symbol of victory, triumph, peace and eternal life.  

He traveled to Jerusalem
To celebrate the feast of Passover
The Jewish people identified Him as their long-awaited earthly emperor 
They believed he would be their warrior King
But he came as a King of Peace.

I wonder, did He know
His journey toward death, crucifixion
Had begun?
Did He look upon the people
With love and gratitude,
 skepticism and mistrust, 
or maybe loving forgiveness

Were the people pawns
In a political, religious struggle
Pawns in a power play on a grand scale
Or just caught up in the crowd?

Did he know
That the palm fronds
Would be replaced
By a crown of thorns?
That the Hosannas would be silenced
Replaced with a new cry
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
That his title would be short lived
As the people proclaimed
“We have no king but Caesar!”

Did Jesus know
As he sat atop the donkey
That this 15 minutes of praise and adoration
Would be a prelude to rejection,
Abandonment and death? 

Maybe He did
Maybe He did not.

What we do know
Is that, when death approached
He forgave
“Father, forgive them
For they know not what they do.”

  He forgave
And He loved
As He accepted His death 
As sacrifice for all.


Reaching the Summit

Scaling that peak
The one looming
Seemingly within reach,
Around the next corner
Until you look up 
And see there is still more to go
Much more

Hitting a wall
Slumping down to the pebbled ground
You take a drink of precious water
Breathe deeply
Gulping in the thin air
Retying your shoes
And rising
You push on 
Toward that lofty goal.

The art show
A one-woman exhibit
In a high-ceilinged expansive gallery
As I entered through the mahogany doors
The beauty and meaning overtook me
My jaw literally dropped.

There were no more false precipices
This was the peak.

Across the vast space, I was struck by the dance
Of the slender white birds
Flying, prancing, strutting
Displayed in a manner
Deserving of their beauty.
The Pinnacle reached.

People milling about
Greeting each other warmly
No pandemic
No war
No hate
No politics
No sickness
Merely and truly beauty.
Young mixing with old
Love filling the space
Family together to celebrate the artist
Along with friends and strangers

A wonderful, wonder-filled evening
A celebration well-earned
Spirit Truly Took Flight
And the view from the top
Was breath taking!
Spirit Taking Flight
Colleen O’Connor Exhibit
Hoxie Gallery Westerly Library Westerly Rhode Island
 Month of March

Navigating Life’s Final Journey – Review

My book has been published for a few weeks now. I am elated with the response it has received. It has been my dream to write a book to help inform people in order that they and their loved ones might be able to attain more control and choice as they approach the end of their life. I have received wonderful feedback which has confirmed for me that the book is providing the information and encouragement it was intended to give!

Here is a sample of one of the reviews. Remember you can purchase a book through my website

Navigating Life’s Final Journey is a well written book about preparing to face life’s final journey.  Pat writes from years of personal experience in the field of palliative care.   She stresses the importance of communication and decision-making by family members. The real-life stories she shares stress the point that there comes a time in life when exit can be welcome.  Things that need to be discussed and planned for are covered in detail with many options explained.  Death does not always need to be prolonged when the person passing is struggling to an uncomfortable lifestyle that makes everything difficult and unnecessary for all involved.  The book is full of helpful, thought-provoking stories and helpful information.  Take time to read it and share ideas with your family and friends who have loved ones with Heaven in sight.  
Janis I.

Human Spirit

Our physical beings
Are so fragile
So vulnerable
Our physical life
As we have come to know it
Can change instantaneously
A fall
A nearby sneeze
Droplets landing indiscriminately
An infection
Mild or life changing

Any number of circumstances
Most beyond our control
Can end or alter our physical life
At any moment.
Motor vehicle crash, earthquake, war
Homicide, injury, abuse, illness 
And untold others.
As people enter their later years
The physical losses are more evident
Our bodies less resilient
But the human spirit
The Human Spirit 
Inspires awe.

The resolve of rescue workers
In Turkey, Syria, NYC
All over the world
Putting their lives at risk
To spare the suffering of others
Human Spirit.

The courage of the silver-haired man
Making his way unassisted
Across the vast floor of the restaurant
Pushing his walker forward
Dragging his thin, bowed legs
One painful step after another
His right ankle randomly turning under
He ventures forth
Smiling and nodding along the way
His spirit unencumbered
His Human Spirit.

The hurried foot steps
Racing down the hospital stairs
Faces of consternation, determination, trepidation
They descend flight after flight
To the Emergency Department
An energy fills the staircase
An energy of love and compassion
So powerful my heart- filled with awe overflows into my eyes
As I stand back, giving them space 
To respond to the call
“Code Blue.  Pediatric.  ED”
Human Spirit undeterred.

The family
Putting their lives on hold
Being there for their dad
Allowing him to remain home
As he nears the end of his life.
Nearing the end, but living fully
Others helping out 
Lending a hand, baking a bread
Saying a prayer
Day after Day after Week after Month
They labor
Out of duty, out of love
The Human Spirit living on.

The Slave Spirituals
A testament beyond measure
To this Spirit
Not extinguished 
By the evils enacted
Upon them by others
“Swing low, sweet chariot . . .”
Spirit of human beings
Oppressed, enslaved in body
But untethered in spirit
Human Spirit.

Human Spirit
despite enduring
Assault, loss, suffering, unimaginable pain
Human Spirit
Who we are
Within our fragile shells
Deep inside our physical selves
That tiny nugget of hope
The fountain of youth, of love
Our truest selves

When we look on in wonder
Look on in awe
And maybe beautiful disbelief
When our hearts leap
 toward the warmth of the flame of the actions of others,
We are witnessing the power of the Human Spirit
And within that Spirit lies hope for our wounded world!

Merely a Vessel

 Dad’s living room 
A mere 16 months ago
I thought it was 2 years!

Finally, it is complete
Later today, we pick up 300 copies
Of my book!
It is a culmination 
Of wisdom and knowledge gained
Over 4+ decades
Of service
4 decades of listening,
Caring, educating,
Relieving suffering,
Telling truth
And giving choices
4 decades of conversations

Labor is over now
Today is delivery day.
So, I lie awake wondering
Is it enough?
Will people benefit from reading it?
Will they hear and understand
That which I passionately believe?
Has it come through 
In the words I have written
And rewritten and rewritten
More times than I care to count
Beta Readers
A fabulous editor
So much has gone into
This sixteen-month gestation.
Today it will be born
No more revisions
No more corrections
So tonight, I am a bit concerned
Like the Christmas Gift
The really special one
That you put your heart and soul into
You are excited to give it
But tremulous also
How will it be received?
This book is my gift
To people everywhere
In hopes it will bring them
Comfort, clarity, meaning and choices
As they face the prospect
Of Life’s Final Journey.
A journey we shall all face

So, as I release this creation
I whisper a prayer
That I have done justice to the topic
That I have honored the hundreds (? thousands) of patients
Who have allowed me to accompany them
On their journeys

I send my words out into the world
Knowing, I am merely a vessel
Meant to pour out for others
What has been given to me
May the words be a blessing 
To all who receive them.



Just a quick note to share some exciting news!! For the past two years, I have been writing a book. It has arisen from my over 4 decades working as a nurse/nurse practitioner. Through writing, I am able to indulge my passion to work to empower people to make their own decisions about how they want to live the final stages of their lives! It is called Navigating Life’s Final Journey Conversations, Choices, Resources

I am picking up the books on Monday! You can learn more about the book and order on my website

or Facebook page Patricia O’Connor, APRN

I hope to put up a picture of the book itself on Monday!!!


Can COVID “ruin” Christmas?

Can war “ruin” Christmas?

Can migrants beseeching entry “ruin” Christmas?

How about the cost to heat our homes?

The dearth of the stock market?

The suffering which abounds in our world today?



The birth of Love

Love in human form

The Christ.


What can destroy love?

What can love eradicate?

Fear, suffering, evil

They chip away at love

Don’t they?


But the flame remains

Maybe deeper in hiding

Trying to protect, shield, withstand

The ravages of hardship


But always, Love can be birthed again

Love is borne

In every gentle touch

Every kind word,

Each compassionate act.



The birthing of love

Can happen

In the face of hate

It Can dispel fear

It Can offer hope.


The gifts offered

To those we love

And those in need

Can bring suffering to its knees

As tears of gratitude and love




An act

A feeling

A response

Love was given in the form of a person

On Christmas Day


Love has been reborn

Again, and again


Christmas is a reminder

To celebrate love

To celebrate hope

To rekindle our flame

And offer it to others.



Cannot be destroyed

But can be offered

To those whose vision

Is cloaked in suffering


Birth love

Find a way

To ignite your own spark

In your own way

Create Christmas

In your heart!


Merry Christmas!


Brilliant white cloaking the yard
Resting upon branches
Bringing beauty to the stark winter woods
Animal footprints
Tracing a path
As they search for sustenance
Ending at the Crab Apple Tree

White frosting clinging to tree trunks 
Set against grey sky

The snow muffles sound
Giving us pause
As roads are cleared
And fires tended
We gather by the fire
Warming hands
Watching flames leap
Coals radiating intense heat

The peace of winter
Moments to pause
To reflect
On the beauty
And preciousness of life
Moments of gratitude
For shelter, heat, nourishment
And love

The peace of winter
Birds visit the feeders
Bringing glimpses of color
As they feast

Holiday lights strung upon rooftops,
On windowsills
Candles lit
Awaiting birth
Announcing Miracle of Light
Bringing hope and beauty to our winter world

Pause the frenetic pace
Of holiday preparations
And breathe
Breathe in the beauty, the peace
The quiet joy
In our winter world

Let peace fill your soul
Warm your heart, your being
And radiate out to our winter world!

Happy Hannukah!
Merry Christmas!!!