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Grace Casado


There's a leak in this old building and my soul 

Has got to move 

My soul 

Has got to move" 

A piercing voice rings as the lyrics reverberate throughout the room, enveloping Rebecca and me in the soulful melody.

Rebecca has recently joined the hospice center. When I first meet her, she beckons from her bed, requesting a cup of hot water. Returning to her room, I brandish the water as if I have just won a trophy. Rebecca laughs as she opens packets of ginger tea and instant espresso from her bed stand. She shares her "Ginger Espresso Tea" recipe, which she proclaims "bridges the divide between tea and coffee." Despite being on her deathbed, Rebecca's energy is infectious. 

Two weeks slip by. As I push open the door to Rebecca’s room, my eyes widen in surprise. The vibrant woman I know has faded, her cheeks gaunt, her voice a whisper between breaths. The room, filled with the faint aroma of ginger tea she loves, seems to hold onto the essence of her liveliness. As I stand there, a wave of sadness washes over me, witnessing the tangible signs of her battle, yet also the undeniable resilience and dignity that even illness cannot erase. 

Rebecca asks to listen to "There's a Leak in This Old Building," by LaShun Pace. We sit together on her bed as the song plays. As the final notes fade, Rebecca turns to me with a soft smile. “This old building,” she says, tapping her chest gently, “it creaks and groans, but the beams still hold. Soon, I'll move to a new one, one with brighter windows and sturdier walls.” I don’t have the tools to mend her weathered frame, yet I am grateful to be a part of her story and transition. 

When I began my volunteer position, I was idealistic and expectant, eager to immerse myself in a clinical environment of solemnity. I understood the functional nature of hospice care, but I hadn't truly anticipated the reality of what such an experience meant. Death is a spiritual event, not biological. Hospice care addresses suffering, not death. Although death still scares me, I learned to embrace the experience with Rebecca—the power of presence, of holding hands with fear and finding solace in shared silences. Rebecca taught me the inevitability of death; at times, we may temporarily postpone it, but ultimately, everyone dies. 

And as I walk away from her room one last time, the song’s notes still lingering within me, I carry Rebecca’s lesson forward.


Grace Casado

Class of 2026