Friday, January 18, 2008

Paying it forward

In recent months I've been germinating two pet projects in memory of Chris that I've been hoping would come to fruition. I'm delighted to say that both have received full approval from the 'powers that be' in their respective arenas and will be moving forward over the next year.

The first is a graduate scholarship fund at the library and information science faculty where Chris and I met as Masters students and where Chris was a PhD candidate at the time of his death. We created many wonderful memories during our time there - we were often affectionately teased as one of several 'librarians in love' couples. I hope that this memorial scholarship will help successive generations of library science grad students fulfill their dreams for many years to come.

The other project will be a more hands-on labour of love combining my librarian skills as well as my experience and interest in consumer health information and patient advocacy. I will be working with patients and staff at the university hospital Chris attended to create, in his memory, a patient and family library for kidney disease and related resources at the new dialysis unit currently being developed.

His passion for patient self-advocacy and education was born of his own experiences as a person with a chronic illness but one of his key coping mechanisms was to educate himself about his health condition so that he could be an active, informed participant and decision-maker in his own care. I want the new library to be a place of enquiry, reflection, learning, and empowerment for kidney patients and their loved ones, but also for healthcare staff - for we can all learn from each other.

Giving back or 'paying it forward' was very important to Chris and has become even more so for me since his death. During the past several years I learned more from my parents and Chris than I would ever have thought myself capable of. Not of intellectual knowledge or facts, but in the seemingly boundless capacity of the human heart and mind for compassion; for patience; for nerves of steel and steady hands; for tender care of messy situations; for protecting a loved one; for truly living life in the moment.

I will continue to write about these projects as they develop and keep you posted on their progress. Thank you to those of you who have helped me bring them to life and continue to give your support, your time, and your expertise. Thank you for ‘paying it forward’.

No comments: