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I ended up checking out a hospice for the elderly, who were breathing out their last days on earth. I walked through its corridors, passing room after room, observing how these aged people suffered and sobbed, listening to endless moans of pain. Living in their horrifying realities, they didn’t seem at peace with imminent death. Being there in the moment, I questioned the purpose of living. Since then, the smell of old age has stayed with me. It haunts me every time I return from visiting my father in Jerusalem. I spent three days at the hospice, drowning in the residents’ suffering, listening to the few who were still able to speak in low, quivering voices, telling me about their pasts. I looked at their hands and fingers. Many suffered from diseases that had deformed their bones, paralyzing them into wheelchairs and onto deathbeds. Many were impaired from severe arthritis. Their fingers were dislocated, bent, as if broken. One elderly woman wore a wedding ring, buried in her swollen finger, cutting into her skin. The only way to remove it would have been through surgery. An elderly man had all his fingers on both hands dislocated into a permanent fist position. Many hands had scars, violet blood clots, as if tattooed on their skin.

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