After I got the news, I began to look through our photo archive. There were dozens of pictures of Delores, all with engaging smiles that made me chuckle amid my tears. One of our “original” members, she’s present in photos from Christmas parties, retreats, daily activities, Thursday Night Life services. Delores passed away this week from COVID-19, but she left behind family and the entire Well Community who experienced her generous love and enthusiasm for life.
If anyone had an excuse for bitterness, it was Delores. She not only struggled with severe mental illness, but she also had to navigate poverty and stigma through an intellectual disability. However, she found help along the way. Loved well for 30 years before her husband passed away, Delores continued to be cared for at The Well Community, where she found friends and fun and a place to belong. She loved The Well, and we loved her.
Sadly, we have lost another member of The Well to the coronavirus. Randy had a number of medical difficulties that kept him from full participation with us, but when we had our Thursday Night Life worship services he tried to come as often as possible. When he came, he was surrounded by his housemates and Well friends. Quiet and thoughtful, he always struck me as being a rock of stability for his friends. Even though limited by mental health and other challenges, Randy was concerned about the wider community and enjoyed his work with the election process.
What I think of first when Randy comes to mind is the greeting he always said when he saw me: “Hi Alice. Are you still in Wonderland?” Now he is in “wonder-ful land,” but we miss him.
These are two people who will be remembered by a handful of people whose lives were enriched by their friendships. They are also two people who were often shunned by passersby and ignored by most others.
While stigma kept them from being known by more of our neighbors, our joy was to know and accept Delores and Randy, which opened our hearts to be loved by each other. Such treasures!
Be sure to follow The Well Community on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about mental illnesses and stigma, as well as how The Well provides a place of community and support.