Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Never Forget

I haven't forgotten the promises I made and I'm still here fighting for those who can't fight anymore.

I let my voice be silenced. I didn't realize I could be stronger, but I am. So, I guess this means?? I'm back. I've missed you out there, I've missed sharing, telling the the stories of those who lived and died but are never forgotten.

Remember, never forget....

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Different Path?!?!?!

Again, it all comes back to this blog.

I’m at a fork in the road and I’m not sure which path to take. Different doors have been opening, calls out of nowhere, requests that seem way out of my league, but still I haven’t been able to walk away.

It’s about them…..the unnamed. They’re why I stay. AND because I still believe in the good that is done. I see the capacity, and I know in my heart angels fill that house.

So, this blog?

I’m not sure, I haven’t decided. The clock is ticking and soon I’ll have to choose.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In My Head

“When I find myself in times of trouble Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom

Let It Be

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me speaking words of wisdom

Let It Be......

There will be an answer let it be.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Speech at African Methodist Episcopal Convention

Hello everyone, first I just want to thank you for you’re your donations, it is much appreciated and much needed. My name is Claudine and I am a volunteer at an AIDS hospice, I’m on the schedule for mornings twice a week, but I tend to be there a lot more than that, I’ve come to think of the house as a second home. Most people would find that strange since the house is a residential AIDS hospice, but despite being an AIDS hospice it is filled with love and joy. Yes Joy! Sadness and loss is a given, but the hospice is not defined by it’s losses, but rather illuminated by the dedication and quiet strength of all the staff and volunteers who give so willingly and care so deeply for all it’s residents.

Our mission is to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those affected by HIV/AIDS through compassionate health care and social services. We turn no one away. Again, we turn NO ONE AWAY, regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference, we fight! We fight everyday for those who are unable to fight; we are a voice for all the voices that have been silenced by this disease. Sadly, despite strong efforts, HIV/AIDS has taken a stronghold on the South and refuses to let go. In 2005 AIDS was the 4th leading cause of death for black men and the third leading cause for black women ages 25-44.

I don’t want to stand here a quote statistics to you, I’m sure we all know what the new face of AIDS looks like, but do we know who is leading the fight against this disease that is decimating our community. Who is giving their time and reaching out to the community, not only about prevention but after. After infection, who’s taking care of the sick and dying.

My grandfather was a minister and a missionary in Haiti. When AIDS first came to the already battered island where I was born, he was one of the first to go and help the sick, the infected men, women, and children.

He had a church, a congregation both in Haiti and Los Angeles, I didn’t understand why he subjected himself and his family to watch as so many died in unimaginable misery, but he always believed and said,

“The church always leads the way.”

He could not ask of his congregation what he was not willing to do, so he led by example and slowly others followed. The church always leads the way…..

I give my heart and dedication to the residents at the hospice, I bathe them, I feed them, I fix their beds, do their laundry, hold their hands, laugh and cry with them, but that is my choice. Not all the volunteers are as involved as I am, some come and clean, some help maintain the gardens, and others come and prepare meals. But it saddens me as the house is mainly filled with black residents that there are so few black volunteers or outreach groups that offer their time, whether it is cooking a meal once a month, or sending in a group to help clean and make beds, so the residents know they’re not forgotten.

Our children are dying, they’re babies, they’re so young and it breaks my heart, I can’t even begin to explain how hard it is to watch them die when their life is barely lived. By the time they come to the hospice it’s already too late, but don’t we owe it to them and to ourselves, to at least let our presence be felt, seen, and heard.

Mother Theresa once said that AIDS victims are God in a hideous disguise and if you look into their eyes you’ll see Jesus. I’ve looked into their eyes and I understand. Jesus was a champion of the poor, the sick, the unwanted, the oppressed, the abandoned and forgotten. Does that not describe many people living with HIV/AIDS today? They are at the hospice because they have no where else to go and the hospice cannot survive without the help of the community.

And Jesus said, “Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me- you did it to me.”

Again, thank you for remembering us today and thank you for your time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Little Thoughts"

I wonder, is it normal, to talk yourself into a good day?

“Today is going to be a good day, today I will be happy, I will smile and laugh and be okay.”

And then at the end of the day, which sometimes surprises you by being an amazingly beautiful day, to still feel a little sad as you lie in the dark, longing for sleep to come.

I consoled a friend this week who also volunteers at the hospice as she mourned a resident who touched her, who got closer than most.

“How can he be here one minute and gone the next?” She agonizingly cried.

I don’t really understand what we’re doing some days, but I know we’re needed. I know even in her grief, she wouldn’t take back one single moment.

No matter what the cost.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Starburst and Skittles Forever

I stopped writing the night they both died.

I haven’t even looked at my blog until today. I got lost in it all and had a hard time finding my way back. They were both part of the “old timer crew” both had been there before the new year, watched winter turn to spring, spring to summer, and then died within hours of each other.

One was expected. He had been hanging on for awhile and I had time to say goodbye and make peace with the knowledge he was leaving.

But, him? I wasn’t ready for his departure. He was too young, it seemed impossibly wrong, an ocean of injustice crashing unnoticed except to the few of us who swim against the tide.

“Starburst and Skittles”

There isn’t a day gone by you don’t pop into my head.

I promised him he wouldn’t be alone. I sat hour after hour after hour watching his futile fight for every breath, sounding like he was drowning in a small pool of water. That sound comes back to haunt me often, I didn’t understand how one night would be like an eternity forever etched into the fabric of who I was and who I am.

“Everything he has endured, all he has not lived, aches in me.”

Today, another “old timer” needed a t-shirt, so I looked in the supply room and pulled one out. I glanced at the collar and saw his initials from the t-shirt I had given him months before, it was bittersweet. The continuous pattern of the hospice gives me comfort, but sometimes it’s hard to mourn when the next day a new resident enters and erases the space that belonged to someone else for so long.

I can’t even write his name on this blog, I mourn him, but I don’t know what’s normal, or what’s “borderline losing it.”

I’m wearing the t-shirt that I gave him with his initials (I kept it) while writing for the first time since his death. I guess that’s something……

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

There Will Be An Answer

Within 24 hours I learned of two deaths. One from the hospice and the other someone I knew from the outside world.

Hearing about a resident’s death always saddens me, but I know it’s coming. I expect it, it is inevitable. The sudden death of a person you know has a shock value that is new and confusing.

I’m so used to death I think I’m above it, like it can’t touch me, but it can and it does. My reactions may be different from what is considered normal, but I am not immune to the absoluteness of how sudden it can be. Even when you know it’s coming.

Anyway, it’s been a long day, and I fear I may be rambling and making very little sense. So, I will stop with an inscription from Sophia De Mello Breyner.

“When I die I will return to seek
The moments I did not live by the sea”

Goodbye to you both…