Rani Ferreira

Grew up: Honolulu, Hawaii

Joined Mission Hospice: 2009

What led me to hospice work: My aunt died in Hawaii in June 2009. She was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at 74 and was trying every treatment possible. She and her family continued to talk about “what she’ll do when she was well,” and never accepted she would die. They wouldn’t let her talk about dying, even during her last hospitalization. As I sat at her bed in the ICU, she said, “I think I might be dying.” I thought for a moment, then said, “And how would that be for you if you were?”

After she got over her surprise, she talked about her fears and concerns. I listened. She died a week later. But in those few minutes I realized how lonely it was for the dying, especially if those around them couldn’t be with them in their fear and pain. And I decided I was willing to do something that might ease their loneliness. I started my search for a hospice to join after her death.

Mission Hospice in four words: strength, supportive, present, kind. We really know what to do to support people living each moment until they die.

Passions: I’ve just started quilting. It’s the latest of many sequential passions. What gives meaning to everything I do is being a Hindu swami and interfaith chaplain.

Desert island album: Anything Krishna Das; Hawaiian music

Favorite food: Decadently rich chocolate cake

Reading: A wide variety of books at the same time, from Hindu philosophy, Geneen Roth’s latest book, spiritual biographies (including my colleague Ren’s) – and a little political science, plus lots of teaching material on quilting. I am an insatiable reader, and never met a book I didn’t want to read.

Favorite movie: Insipid love stories like “When Harry Met Sally.” I go to books for deep analysis and understanding, and go to movies for a couple of hours of distraction.

Little known fact: I have changed my name three times.

The thing I find most interesting is, in retrospect, how many different lives I have led in this one lifetime, and actually, how different each is from the other. At the time each seemed like “the perfect fit,” and yet, when the next “life’s work” came along, how it seemed perfect. Maybe the takeaway is that we all get to reinvent ourselves each day, so that on our last day, we know we have packed in as much meaning and depth as we had time to fit in!

On my bucket list: To work at Mother Teresa’s hospitals in Calcutta. In the short term, I am making quilts for Mother Teresa’s hospital, Gift of Love, in Pacifica.