Here I am sitting on my bed writing this journal while listening to my SBO reflection songs.. It is quite hard to write right now since my body is oozing with emotions: a little sad, a bit reminiscent, but mostly grateful and reflective. SBO New York City was AMAZING! I made some great friends, met some wonderful people, and most of all, my perspective on life has changed for the better. My time at the Terrence Cardinal Cook Healthcare Center has taught me so much. How much I miss TCC, how much I miss the Church of Saint Andrew and Saint Paul’s. How much I miss God’s Love We Deliver. How much I miss sleeping on the floor and everything about his wonderful, amazing, and extremely education trip! I feel like I am going to cry!
I learned so much from everyone I met. We made food at GLWD, and each scoop, each stamp, each label are all made with love! I don’t even know where to begin with TCC. It was simply beautiful to see two stigmatized groups of patients; one suffering from HIV/AIDS and other facing mental disabilities come together without judging each other and coexist so peacefully. The group of mentally challenged students comes to TCC everyday to push residents up the ramp to go to mass. They have done this four thousand times with only two accidents. We are conditioned, we are taught to have certain impression about a certain group of people. However, that group of students did not! They are like innocent little kids that were just doing another job.
Above is a piece of thought from my journal after I came back from SBO. I thought that this week’s readings, The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber by Ernest Hemingway, and the poems by Emily Dickinson, intertwine beautifully with my service experience. Just like the speaker who accepts death so peacefully in the poem “Because I could not stop for Death--”, the residents at TCC share similar attitude. Most of them do not feel sorry for themselves, rather they have committed themselves to productive activities. Mr. McClain came to TCC years ago. He was angry and negative in every way imaginable. Couple years later, Mr. McClain told us that he has found his calling in drawing. Using a rule and a pen, he has made numerous drawings, few of which are framed and displayed in the hall way. It is not to say that he accepts death, but it is no doubt that Mr. McClain accepts his current situation. Another resident, Jerry, told me in his ever soothing voice that he “made a good situation out of a bad one”. There is no self pity but quiet acceptance and willingness to live positively.
The poem “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died,” describes how the speaker was distracted by a fly on her death bed. It also reminds me of the youngest resident at TCC, Diamond; for she was the only one who constantly talked about death, her mother’s death. She would often start a sentence with “when my mother passed away…”. To Diamond, this death is always lingering in the background, just like the speaker’s eminent death. Whereas the speaker is distracted by the fly, Diamond divides her attention between her mother’s death and daily activities.
It is also interesting how when one is happy, life is is often short; when one is complaining, life appears longer than one desire, as depicted in The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber. This could almost be the motto of TCC. It is apparent that those who are happy with life do not view their stay at TCC as a death sentence, given that they have little to no visitors. Those who are constantly complaining, not only do not enjoy their stay, but exacerbates their current situations. Francis Macomber died in one of the bravest moments in his life and I think that is what the residents at TCC strive for too.