GREENSBORO — On the side of Kimberly Paul’s RV is a message that reads: “You are going to die.”
“People are like this,” she mimicked, a wide-eyed look on her face, “as they drive by.”
These days, Paul, who as a former producer on the TV show “Saturday Night Live” once shared the halls with comedians Mike Meyers and Adam Sandler, is on a 49-state “Live Well Die Well” tour to encourage people to create end-of-life plans.
While she doesn’t take herself seriously, she takes the issue seriously. And she’s not alone.
“We think this is a conversation that should be taking place,” said Dr. Elizabeth Golding, the medical director of Cone Health Palliative Care Services, who booked a spot on Paul’s road tour after reading her book, “Bridging the Gap, Life Lessons from the Dying.”
Through today, Paul’s blue RV will be idling outside Moses Cone Hospital while she holds conversations and collects stories at a hospital entrance. At her side: a stack of medical forms that outline the scope of treatment an individual may want in an emergency so it’s not left up to family members who don’t know what to do.
“It’s truly a gift to the family,” Paul said of the paperwork. “I think being prepared (for death) is the No. 1 key to being fully alive.”
Her journey to this discovery started after her boyfriend, an FBI agent who was just 30, discovered melanoma on his back and later died of cancer.
“It took me from the world of TV to reality slapping me in my face,” Paul explained.
She then spent nearly 20 years working with hospice patients and watching them and their families handle death.
When Dania Ermentrout stopped by the table Wednesday with 7-year-old daughter, Moira, who has a rare terminal illness and has lived longer than doctors suggested she might, Paul spent a lot of time listening, nodding and understanding.
Moira’s is one of the stories that Paul will possibly share during one of her book signings or “Death by Design” podcasts.
Earlier in the week, hospital employees — some in scrubs — picked up forms and lingered in a hospital corridor.
“Some have been inspired by patients,” Paul said.
They listened to Paul, who infuses humor in a discussion that some people would rather not have with their families.
Finding a way to laugh is important, Paul said. She described telling her own family about her wishes should the worst happen.
It could have been an “SNL” skit.
“They’re arguing over who gets to pull the plug,” Paul admitted.
But that brought about a more in-depth discussion.