As one year ends and another begins, I took this time to reflect on the past year and what it has given me. It sometimes feels as if the clients of Taller de José do more for me, than I do for them.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to accompany Dulce*. I met Dulce outside of her home as she requested because transportation would be picking her up for her doctor’s appointment. Dulce is a senior citizen and became legally blind around 40. When I first met Dulce I could not tell that she was blind. However, when Dulce heard my voice, she immediately called to me. Dulce and I were picked up by her residential transportation services and while we waited for others to be pick up as well, she told me her story.
Dulce has been a client of Taller de José since 2011 and since then had been accompanied by over six compañerxs. Dulce first heard of Taller de José from her friend, because she needed assistance obtaining an order of protection and finalizing her divorce. Dulce told me that she was very grateful for the young lady that had assisted her during that very hard time in her life and that finding Taller de José was a gift from God.
A few years ago Dulce reached out to Taller de José again for assistance obtaining an attorney for Social Security and Public Benefits. Then too, a compañera accompanied her to the Daley Center to speak with a pro-bono attorney and was given assistance filling out paperwork. Once again, Dulce was very appreciative for the service that Taller De José was able to provide her.
Over the years Dulce was accompanied various times to different medical appointments ranging from dermatology to physical therapy. In her last appointment, Dulce had been ignored by numerous people when she asked for assistance getting to her desired clinic. The reason I was accompanying Dulce that day, was because in a previous appointment the doctor had found an abscess and it was necessary to complete a biopsy. Dulce had been diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and beat it. When we were finally seen by the doctor, I could tell that Dulce was nervous because she gripped my hand tightly. All that I could think about was the fact Dulce had already been to Rush University seven times this year trying to get some answers and second opinions. I couldn’t help but feel hopeless as I waited for the doctor to finish reading the chart.
When the doctor finally finished reading, she informed us that the abscess was not cancerous and suggested that Dulce have it surgically removed. I took a sigh of relief and a smile came upon Dulce’s face. I could tell that Dulce was relieved as well. We were then given instructions and information about the surgery; I assisted Dulce with setting up follow up appointments.
As we rode back together to her apartment, Dulce expressed her gratitude for my presence that day; my physical presence was important but what she was most appreciative of was the way I received her stories and made her feel seen. I was in disbelief that she shared so personally with someone she had just met. Dulce’s continued resilience in the face of hardship reminded me of the ways people immediately ask, why me? Dulce found no one else to blame yet overcame each obstacle with a grace that showed me that each one of us has to make a choice for ourselves to push through our challenges.
*Client name, details, and image changed to protect client confidentiality.