There is life and there is death. This is somewhere in between.
The energy one feels upon walking in the Hacienda de Los Angeles is both heavy with circumstance, yet unashamedly light with hope. Ninety three individuals range in age from young children to older adults; ninety three suffer from some type of medical, physical or intellectual impairments, ninety three whose care needs have been too much for other facilities to endure, ninety three souls spending the rest of their days at the Hacienda de Los Angeles.
The majority of the residents suffer from severe brain trauma caused by a number of things, could be near drownings, born of drug addicted mothers, or victims of a violent crime. The ability to communicate, if any, is limited among the patients. Some blink an eye to confirm, some just smile, some nothing at all. Attempting to connect with a resident, whose only response is a blinking stare, is a profound moment of understanding how deeply we desire to communicate as humans.
There’s an emotional reaction that comes with the response unmet, and you suddenly find yourself wanting so badly to know they hear you, know you’re there, and that you care. You’re suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to let them know their life matters; while simultaneously being hit with the realization of just how much everyone’s does. Their life, in a body and mind almost completely shut down, still has the power to influence people’s days, outlook, energy and perspective. The magnitude of this experience is understood when one realizes how any breathing, living individual still encompasses the ability to change people’s lives.
Then, there’s your angel. Anyone who’s visited the house will tell you their name, because they each met them. It’s the one who catches your eye as soon as you walk into the room. It’s automatic, as if you’ve been preassigned to them before you even walk through the front door. It’s the one you stay with the longest. It’s the one you don’t want to leave, and your heart hurts when you finally do. They stay with you long after you’re gone; and the emotion of your time with them you recall as quickly as you can their face. In those brief moments you spent with them, they taught you something about life and death. They taught you something about yourself. They reminded you of how much you matter to this world, how much everyone does. They did it all without saying a word. They are your angel and they stay with you, guiding you through the dark days, long after your visit.
…what a befitting gift to receive upon a visit to the House of Angels.