I met him when I first started in 1991. My Mom had just been diagnosed with cancer and so for the six months that she lived, he actually helped me prepare for her death. Like here is a man, who he himself was living with a terminal illness, and at the time when life expectancy for people with HIV was not great. It was before all the drug treatments. He saw something in me that was worth tending to. You know, he knew that I coming in young, fresh, and full of energy. You know, as an activist. My friend, Ted, was tested HIV positive and I was wanting to be involved. And I think he saw what a big heart I had and I think he saw if I wasn’t companioned well on the journey I was on—with my Mom and Ted—I was not going to be able to sustain doing this work. And I think he saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself.
Click play to hear a full interview with Betty Ann below:
I like to walk the talk so I was challenging myself that I need to volunteer too. So I looked into our hospice program and they had a client that they wanted to see if I would go and visit him. So I am like, “Sure, I am happy to make a change in someone’s life.” And I started to visit him and his wish was to visit the Sikh temple once a week on Saturday mornings. “Yes, sure, I can definitely drive you there.” And there was one catch, he wanted to go at 7 a.m. on Saturdays. So I was like, “OK, yes, I can manage that.” And so we started doing it. So I got to tell you, on some Friday nights coming home from work or had a party or something, I was like, man, I don’t think I’d be able to wake up tomorrow morning. Maybe I should just call him. Then there was one time that I actually did call, I was just so tired, and I was hoping we could skip tomorrow. I called and the phone was ringing and I was feeling so bad and I was thinking maybe I should hang up and then he picked up. He’s like, “Hello,” I am like, “Uncle, it’s Charanjit,” and he said, “Oh, Charanjit, I was looking forward to tomorrow and I just can’t wait.” And I was like, oh man, I guess I see you tomorrow. And I hung up and when I go there he would stand on his curb and he was having such a smile on his face. And he just lit right up and that would be my sunrise in the morning. And I remember driving him there and seeing how much gratitude he had, how much appreciation he had just so I can accompany him. It’s really something I never forget. I always think to myself that I went to change someone’s life, but my life got changed instead.
Click play to hear a full interview with Charanjit below:
The husband at first was a little bit hesitant to share what he was feeling because he felt his grief wasn’t… He kept downplaying his grief, “My grief isn’t as important as my wife’s. She had to carry our son for 21 weeks and be induced and hold our dead son in her arms. I can’t even compare my grief to hers.” And it’s so important in this organization that we let men know that their grief is just as valuable and just as important and the journey of healing is important.
Click play to hear a full interview with Paula below:
Get Wheel Transit. Get the heck of out the house. You know you can’t sit home and do nothing. You’ve got to do something. Because you get atrophy. Everything just gets useless and you’ll never get out of bed. So you don’t want to stay home. You’ve got to get out and do things, no matter what it is. You’re still able to do it, no matter how old you are. I was just reading in the newspaper this morning, a woman who is 80 years old going swimming and everything else. I obviously can’t do that because of my breathing problem, but I would love to. I always like to swim.
Click play to hear a full interview with Clarine below:
I broke my ankle in 2004 and it was really the first time in a very long time that I was on the receiving end of absolute kindness. Because I am good at being kind and taking care of others, but this time other people were stepping forward and taking care of me. The blessing of receiving such tender kindness from a retired nurse who would get up in the morning and drive over to my house, get me dressed, give me breakfast, and get me organized for the rest of the day because she knew my husband was overwhelmed and he couldn’t do it. I had no way to get up to go to the bathroom and the only person I could call was my landlady and she came and took me to the toilet. So it was an absolute lesson in surrender and learning how to receive.
Click play to hear a full interview with Chrystalla below:
We weren’t the smartest of men. We were kids living in the world of delusion, hoping to be something famous in all the wrong ways. It was a dark place in my life. People started dying. A friend in high school committed suicide. And yes, it was difficult. I didn’t even go to the funeral. To be honest I didn’t believe it. I didn’t really pay attention to what was happening to others. Yeah, I only cared about my friends who didn’t care about me and in turn made me care about nobody.
Click play to hear a full interview with Randall below: