I sit here at my computer, a large portrait of my late husband hangs on the wall, facing me. His warm smile and kind eyes embrace me. I feel his presence as if he was really here. The photo is from the early ’90s, taken at my son’s wedding in San Antonio. Helles is wearing a formal tuxedo with a red rose boutonniere. The tuxedo and background are black, making his face, snow- white beard, and white shirt front and cuffs emerge vividly from the darkness, brightly lit by the camera’s flash. It is a strikingly handsome image.
The first patient to be admitted to the Marshak Family Hospice Pavilion was a 64 year old married female who was admitted to IPU at Lieberman with metastatic melanoma. She was admitted for management of abdominal pain and for end of life care. She was the first patient transferred from the IPU at Lieberman to the Hospice Pavilion. Her name was Utaiwon Maleegrai and she was my mother.
This was my first year and first experience as a Camp Counselor. I will honestly admit that it did take some coaxing from our CampCare Director, Sheila Yousuf-Abramson. Her strong belief in the program sealed my commitment. On August 12, 2015, I boarded the bus to Holiday Home Camp in Wisconsin with a nervous excitement and ready for adventure.
I used to joke that art was my therapy. Today, I no longer joke about it.
In August of 1995 I had a heart attack, cardiac arrest and near death experience. It serves as an inspiration for many of my works, making it clear that art is therapy. Art is also therapeutic to me because it is so different than the way I spend the vast majority of my time as a general internist physician. In that role, I must step outside of myself and relate to the experiences of others, even though my own inner life continues whether or not I am aware of it.
CampCare is a grief support camp for children and teens who have lost a loved one. This past summer, campers experienced camp in very meaningful ways and created memories that they will carry with them always. These experiences have had a profound influence on our campers.