Why I've chosen this path..
I lost my dad when I was 14 years old. He was in prison from the time I was about 6 until 12 and died from a work accident a couple years later. Learning what being brain dead is and seeing my dad on Life Support was my first experience with death.
My grandfather, Popo, was the closest thing I had to a father and my childhood was spent following him everywhere, even on late night trips to the hospital. As I was further into my teenage years I helped care for him and on the way home from a doctor visit he turned to me with tears in his eyes and said "Vale, I'm gonna die. I'm scared I'm gonna die." Suddenly, he was human. The 19 year old me was frozen and the only thing I could think to do was be silent and be present with him as I kept my eyes on the road, with tears rolling down my cheeks.
Soon after, he wound up in the hospital again and this time was worse than the rest. I spent as much time as I could with him at the hospital, sleeping on a recliner in ICU and eating crappy hospital food. On one of his last few days of his life he kept asking for my younger brother so I half jokingly said, "Popo, why don't you ever ask for me?" and he replied, "I never ask for you, Valita, because I know you'll always be here." And that was the moment I understood the power of presence. That moment is why I do this work.
End-of-Life Doula, International Doulagivers Institute
Reiki Master/Teacher, Usui Ryoho Reiki
Master of Healthcare Administration, Utica College
Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science, UNCC