Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 46

the complexities of the mind. He had seemed to think it “There are two lessons here. One: chocolate helps.” I took was a good strategy for establishing well-being. I laced a candy. “Two: being in someone’s life, no matter how up some Nike sneakers, and walked in for a counseling briefly, means just that. Caregivers work by being in others’ appointment. lives. The work they do is tied to the lives they touch, and in return, their lives are touched and influenced by the The counselor’s office felt like the architectural people with whom they work. Caregivers, with however embodiment of a hug. Cushy pillows lined every chair in much training, are not immune to grief, an emotion that the room. The scent of vanilla candles wafted from the windowsill. Lamps with delicate shades cast warm, orange light across the framed photographs of ocean waves. The counselor was sweet, caring, and listened more than she spoke. I unplugged the mental dam I had been hiding behind since the email, verbally pouring out every pang of sorrow followed by a chaser of qualms and doubt. I ended, asking her if I even had the right to be there: surely five months of knowing “ cannot be ranked, summed, or compared to others.” He worked at teaching me a few phrases from the different languages he had picked up during his travels. We shared a fear of the dentist and I promised Cliff I would stay with him when he was scheduled a mandatory visit. “ someone could not necessitate grief counseling. I stopped. She was smiling. I unwrapped the chocolate while she talked and savored both her words and the candy. Eventually, after a few weeks of counseling, I was able to take down the Christmas decorations in Cliff’s room with a clear head. The room was being prepared for the next and newest resident, for the next and newest life that would intermingle and connect with those on the unit. I was ready. I felt prepared. I had chocolate in my pocket. I had come to reconcile that I would The counselor paused, and pushed a bowl of wrapped never know the details of Cliff’s dream. I had also come to chocolates towards me. know what grief was and I had staked my claim to it. Renusha Indralingam serves as a Storytelling Coach and Editorial Assistant for Months to Years. She graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and an equivalent minor in film studies. She has worked in hospices and long-term-care units in Florida, Connecticut, and Alaska, which has made mortality and end-of-life issues commonplace for her. Because of her film background, she has always been interested in storytelling and personal narrative. While at Yale, she interviewed patients in order to share their life experiences and values with their medical teams, and interned on Ark Media’s documentary Cancer: Emperor of All Maladies. She has also worked as a digital storytelling project intern for the ride-sharing company ITNAmerica. 46