Friendly and welcoming, to strangers or guests.
This is often used in reference to lodgings, and also to environments. Where will I be comfortable? Antarctica or the Hilton, or somewhere in between? For me, and I suspect most of us, it depends on the day. Hospitable comes from the same root as hospital and hospice, the old French meaning of hostel or shelter, often for the needy.
I’ve been thinking about hospitality and hospice lately, as Lucy the cat is failing. She’s twenty and her years are catching up with her. We’ve been focused on creating a hospitable environment for her, making things as comfortable as possible. Steps up to her favorite perches, the food and drink she enjoys, gentle touch and scratch when she’s in the mood; a welcoming lap. So far, so good, and its challenging, as she is sometimes fussy and its difficult to figure out what she is wanting.
As is often the case with those who are towards the end of life, things are variable. She’ll have a bad day, seeming more disoriented, and BA and I will wonder “is it time?”. And then, she’ll have a good stretch. Last night she slept comfortably for several hours, ate the food that was left out for her, and this morning she’s going about the house, being her “normal” naggy self, wanting to go outside, going from room to room with ease. She’s settled for the moment, sitting on my lap as I write. This may explain my sore neck from having my laptop to one side.
Its a tricky balance between hospice and hospitality on this journey. Living is an important part of dying, and vice-versa. Whether with cats and other companion animals or humans, we are challenged to be hospitable to those around us, and also to be hospitable to the process, acknowledging its presence. It is challenging to welcome something that brings so much uncertainty along with its inevitability, and yet when we avoid the issue, we deny ourselves and those we love something that is potentially rich and meaningful.
What will be the next on this particular journey in my household. I don’t know, but we are doing our best to be present. And as Lucy herself would put it: Stay Tunaed!
In response to today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt: Hospitality
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