The Facebook page @MHIsUnderstood (Mental Health Issues Understood) became a parallel intervention to this feature column in April 2012.
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A beautiful light
On September 11, 2016, the Sunday Guardian published a story about Marsha Arvelay, who was then an Associate Editor of the T&T Guardian after spending 16 years with the media house.
The story focused on Arvelay’s struggle with end stage renal failure, her need for a kidney transplant, her trust in God and her belief in love as the greatest medicine.
Shortly after the story was published, Arvelay found a kidney donor and underwent tests in preparation of the much-needed transplant.
She looked forward to discussing a successful surgery in the future and often imagined life after surgery with her friends and family.
But on Tuesday night, after a dialysis treatment in Chaguanas, Arvelay, 44, was rushed to the Sangre Grande Hospital. She died less than 24 hours later in a hospital bed, while Guardian colleagues, dear friends and family waited for news.
The T&T Guardian newsroom and extended family mourns the loss of a woman who was loved tremendously by all and who was kind to everyone. Many said she possessed a genuineness rarely found in the world.
She was a woman who many looked to as a shoulder to lean on, a friend to laugh with, a page designer when you needed a special touch and perhaps the best cook in the newsroom.
Arvelay worked at the Trinidad Guardian newspaper for over 16 years, creating not only good work, but also nurturing young sub editors and reporters alike, as well as contributing to the family atmosphere which was a signature of the Guardian newsroom.
Arvelay started at the Guardian in May 2001, as a graphic artist in the Special Publications Unit (SPU). She was later transferred to the Editorial Department as a senior sub editor in 2003 and was upgraded to an Associate Editor in 2006. In December 2016, she left the Guardian as part of a retrenchment exercise.
She leaves behind her devoted husband Richard, her loving daughter Jodi Marie, and her wonderful grand-daughter Jada, whom she doted on incessantly.
Her former colleagues at the Guardian, had only positive memories to share.
“I will always remember Marsha, full of laughter. She always could see humour in situations other people couldn’t. An amazing cook and always looking for ways to make people happy. She was always willing to listen and comfort a friend in need,” said Marvin Smith.
Another colleague, Vidya Thurab, remembered her as a mother and a sister, always willing to give advice and support.
Mark Thomas, a colleague who sat next to Marsha at work said the world had lost one of its brightest, most beautiful lights. It may have been her colleague Bernadette Millien-Williams that worked with her the longest, over a period of 20 years.
“We moved one after the next working for the same employer to late last year and in those years I have experienced the best pepper sauce, best sweet bread, best curry, bake or stew chicken, geera pork, cheese paste you name it Marsha made it and it tasted amazing.
Marsha never complained and if she did, it had to be unbearable for her to say something about it. I always observed how calm and collected she would respond to situations and I learned from her disposition that being hasty wasn’t always the best solution.”
The article in September was titled “Love is Marsha’s Medicine.” It would turn out to be the truth in multiple ways. Love was the medicine Marsha gave the people who knew her, with every smile and laugh and squeeze of a hand or hug.
“I love you” were the final words Marsha said to me on Tuesday evening, the final words she said to her dear friend Bernadette Millien-Williams, the final dose of medicine for her loved ones.
Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.