My husband, he very much wanted to die at home. And he enjoyed it. My daughter and her two-and-half-year-old son live with us. She’s a single mother. And we’re all together. And what my husband, Harry, wanted was to be around his family and be around us as much as he could. And to watch his grandson, Joey, grow. It was wonderful. When Joey came back from daycare he would go running and jumping on his grandfather’s bed, playing with him. It was great. He was always hopeful. He handled himself like it was another day at the office. He kept working right until the week before. He never got dire. He lived until he died.
Click play to hear a full interview with Ruth below:
You have no idea how much I’ve changed my life from years ago til right now. I was in the shelter system for the last seven years. That’s where I met Kristen. You see, back then I go back on the drugs. Every cent I had went on drugs. Every, every thing! But I never stole. I ever did anything like that. It was just as soon as I got some money, it just went to drugs. Which is why I moved away. I just said, “I can’t live like this anymore.” It was three years before my diagnosis and I said to myself, “I’m going change.”
Click play to hear a full interview with Morris below:
I was told a day or a week til death so I had to stop work. And after I was told I was going to die, I took charge of my own life and not to do what doctors were telling me what to do. You see, along the way I was misdiagnosed. So you see, being a nurse was a part of that because of the knowledge I had medically. But above all of that was the faith I was given. I was told, I was actually told, “You’re going to die” if I didn’t do what the doctors said. Yet the faith said to me, “No, you’re not.” It was the faith. Just the faith that I had embraced had embraced me.
Click play to hear a full interview with Cheryl below:
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 no longer fear death. And I think I know when it’s a good death so that helps me as far as my illness and helps me to be a better person. I’ve gone through two life-theatening diseases, the return of my cancer, but now I am still living. So I think when it comes it comes. I no longer worry about life or death.
It’s not something a teenager or a 20-year-old typically thinks about. That their life will be cut shorter than the average person and so it was something I had to think about. And then, be there for my friends as they experienced all their ailments that eventually took their lives and wonder at the same time when that would happen to me.
Click play to hear a full interview with Novelette below:
We were sitting in the lecture hall at the end of class and he said, “Nobody listens anymore.” And I am like, “What do you mean?” Then he said, “Nobody really listens to anybody. They just kind of listen to respond. They don’t listen to understand.” It hit me like a ton of bricks and I think that’s the one thing I can point out that’s kind of instill in myself that I have to actually listen to people.
Click play to hear a full interview with Rashme below:
I was left with three kids, totally unexpected. I had to get back to work and my minister was on the board for Home for Pregnant Teens. I took this position as the volunteer coordinator and I had never felt so valued. All my other work experience seemed so… not worthless, but nothing was as important as these girls gravitating towards me because I understood. I had coped as a single parent and they just loved being around me and I loved helping them. At the end of my contract, they actually got a petition and got people to sign to keep my job, but there was no funding for it. That was where my love for non-profit started. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else after that but working for an organization that doesn’t care about the bottom line as much as how many people they can help.
Click play to hear a full interview with Debra 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:
I was raised in Scarborough. And when I was younger, I didn’t really like saying I was from Scarborough. When anyone asked, I was from Toronto, I wasn’t from Scarborough. And then when I went off to school, and people were like, “Where you are from?” and I said Scarborough and they went, “Is it the ghettos?” But ever since coming into this organization, I realize how much our community is actually worth.
Click play to hear a full interview with Lucksha below: