Arlene Taylor

It is the summer of 1998 and I'm 14 years old. It's 10 am on a Friday and its already 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Outside, on the corner of Filmore street, I see 3 cars pass by from where I am home alone, sitting on the step of our trailer – the world looks so bleak. I pick up a pebble from the sanded driveway and throw it into the bushes of roses. The street light is red, no cars are waiting. The pedestrian crosswalk is empty. The traffic signal pole, a shrine for an unknown passed on soul, is laden with dead flowers, holy candles, shoes hanging by their strings, and broken beer bottles. The pole looks comfortable. My eyes close, I bring myself to California State University, Northridge where my sister and I are running through the orange orchard. Our mom is inside of her class, studying to be a Masters prepared educator and she is hidden by one of the large buildings I see in the distance.

The Millennium is here. My childhood is over. I look out to the street and the years I lived before this point are finally understood, not everyone who grows up in Pacoima, California, makes it out alive. The morning was a typical one for me, my mom was away, teaching somewhere, surely working on making ends meet – her norm. My father? Our house foreclosed in 1994, so he left shortly thereafter, it was just the 3 of us those days; he still lives in New York today.

My sister Alexandra, 16 months my senior, was also gone, at her high-school Monroe Magnet, probably joyfully engaged, receiving all that a Los Angeles Unified School District education offered her. I eventually took hold of such opportunities as well and volunteered at Olive View Hospital. There was just something about being in a hospital that made me feel comfortable.

Fast forward one year and I am pregnant with my first son, Aaron. He was such a happy baby. Sweet 16, a Van Nuys Medical Magnet Senior at this point who had completed all of my high school credits. I saw on the couch of my mother friend's apartment, where I was living at the time as it was a step up from the trailer. My mother said it wasn't safe for pregnant girls to live in a trailer.

On February 27, 2002, Aaron Jr. was born at Kaiser Hospital in Panorama City. I had an episiotomy.

I moved in with my boyfriend Aaron Sr. and his mom, and cried with my mother as I left my old place. I was in a severe state of depression those days, yet I did not even know it. I lived like this, laying on the living room floor of my boyfriend’s mother. Many days all I did was lie there, holding my newborn. He was such a calm baby and my boyfriend still attended our high school these days.  I remember one day when my son was probably 2 months old, my aunt called me from New York. She said “Arlene, when are you planning on getting up from the floor?” I looked around, remembering no one was there with me, and so I was certain she could not see me. She encouraged me to attend nursing assistant school, so I could work and take care of my son. I did, I attended West Valley Occupational Center, completed the nursing assistant program, I didn’t attend this graduation, instead- I went back to Van Nuys High School, walked the stage and graduated with my peers. We were the graduation Class of 2002.

August 2002, I found myself passionate about nursing.  My mom encouraged me to continue my education then, suggested I study Registered Nursing, she helped me enroll in a nursing school out of the country in Nuevo Leon, Mexico. My mom took the trip with me and my newborn. She brought us to the Universidad De Montemorelos and helped us settle in. I thrived in the Registered Nursing program there, classes were held in the native language, Spanish; I learned quickly. The year flew by, before long, Aaron was 1 year old, speaking Spanish, and finally running (not walking). This was a different life, people were friendly to me, a single mom- living off campus, they enjoyed giving the “Bebe morenito” love. My sister was also studying at the University during this time, however, she attended the School of Medicine. Some days, carrying my heavy child, I walked long miles from my off-campus apartment to the university, and then back again in the evenings. I wondered, what was the real purpose of my life. I awoke one night, hearing small noises, I remember turning on a light, found myself cursing life, as my baby slept, I sat holding him, watched large roaches - almost the size of my palm, scurrying boldly around the small room, and walking right on over my few belongings; my life felt so irrelevant.

March 3, 2003, I was back in the USA. I got back together with my son’s father, we moved into our own small apartment in Mar Vista, California and I gained my first certified nursing assistant job. I worked the night shift at Sunbridge Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica and it was also my first day of school at American Career College (ACC). I was enrolled in the Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) program. I felt that I was on my way. I had things planned and I would go on graduate first in my class. When this program was over, I skipped this graduation as well and enrolled myself in the Associates Degree Nursing (ADN) program.

ACC joined forces with West Coast University, they were excited about the future prospects; however, now, there were only a few students enrolled in their LVN to ADN program. I went on to graduate 2nd in my nursing class, and the attained the only Deans Award. These years flew by- I still knew what I wanted, or thought I did….This is also the same time where I experienced the end of my first relationship, Aaron Sr. suffered renal failure and started undergoing tri-weekly dialysis; illness, substance use, destroyed hopes, our own parental interference, and life took the toll on us- it wouldn’t be until a few months before his death, May 17, 2017…We would come to terms with our innocent relationship as high school sweethearts and were both able to feel blessed by the time that shared together. We had become great co-parents; unfortunately – with his untimely death, this ended.

August 10, 2007, 21 years old, my second son Moses was born. I found myself in love –  my ex-husband Antoine is a charmer – he can charm the shoes off of a horse. I say he charmed me out of my youth. October 2009, 23 years old, my 3rd child, Amaya Rose, my only daughter, was born. Her birth is exactly one year after the birth of my ex-husband's daughter, a daughter he had with another nurse, someone he worked with. This was a very rocky relationship; started when I was 19 years old, filled with infidelity, physical abuse, financial abuse, fake smiles, and false promises. By 2013, I was almost 30 years old, education wise – this is the year I completed another degree (Masters in Science of Nursing Education), yet felt hopeless in an emotionally bereft, and depressed state.

May 2013, working as a Registered Nurse Supervisor, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, in the Advanced Heart Failure Unit. Still trying to make my marriage work, suffered one more blow, my husband shared that he had slept with my best friend. This he said, was to prove that she was not a good friend, to highlight what a horrible mother I was, and he questioned how I always managed to be such a poor judge of character. Foolish, hopeless, empty. One morning after working 16 hours, I started driving home, I was so tired, questioned my life again – I could not find the relevance. It was 11 am, alone, I drove myself off of Mountain Gate Drive; over Sepulveda Boulevard. I saw the beautiful horizon and drove towards it. When I realized what was happening, I began to cry. I remember looking around as I was being airlifted by something noisy, an older white man was smiling at me, and when I woke up I was in UCLA Emergency Room. They were cutting off my clothes then, I saw writing on my arm, it was written in my own handwriting; Sharpie? The letters “DNR,” I had written it several times along my arms and chest, even though I could not remember doing this, I know it was me who had written it.

I was introduced to Psychiatry then; I even ran into an old classmate- she shared that she was in her last year of residency, she studied Psychiatry at UCLA, and so was there for training. I stayed (involuntarily) in the Resnick Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital for 14 days and upon discharge – it was mandated that I be discharged to a partial hospitalization program. This is a full day outpatient program, I was able to go home and remorsefully thankful, was able to be reunited with my children.

September 2013, I was a divorced, critical care registered nurse, mother of 3 small children and had an unsuccessful suicide attempt under my belt. I applied to the Post-Masters, Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Post Masters Certification program at the California State University of Los Angeles. I found I had a new passion for mental health nursing and therefore it had to be explored.

My mom and my aunt never ceased to pray for me, nor did they ever stop encouraging me. June 2016, it was time to graduate CSULA, I sincerely wanted to attend this graduation, yet coincidentally this graduation was the same time and date as my son’s graduation from Junior High School, I chose to miss this graduation as well. My mother shared that it was unfair that I not go to my graduation, as it was a time for my children to see my accomplishments, and celebrate how far I had come. My mother also noted that she had not ever seen me graduate, suggested that I go to campus, even though I had missed graduation, to capture the moment with photography wearing my Masters hood, cap, and gown. I listened.

December 7, 2016, sunset for Marcia Varine Yarde Rose. In her life, she was one to encourage progression, always. She, along with my sister, planned to open a clinic in St. Lucia, the country of her birth. My mom, survived multiple sclerosis, only to die from negligence, and perhaps untreated sepsis. By her death, my mom a Masters prepared registered nurse, was a naturopath doctor. She studied ways to teach and preach the provision of health by natural means. My mom was excited, she felt my sister and I could work together, as my sister was almost nearing the completion of her studies to become a Family Practice Physician. She wanted us to form an integrative practice to best suit the health of the community that surrounds us. She had visions of the great work that our clinic would do, she would not let us forget, we must do our parts to aid in the completion of this great work.  

On July 20, 2018, my mother’s would be 64th birthday, now is also, the Grand Opening of The Rose Yarde, Integrative Practice for Primary and Behavioral Health in Granada Hills, California. The resting gift of the time, a chance to care for the community using means that are both holistic and based on evidence-based best practice. This is how we came up with The Rose Consult for collaborative integrative whole person care. We are gladly trailblazing through to provide, Art Gallery Mental Healthcare.

I feel that the state of mental health across this world is in itself bereft; so why isn’t a simplistic nursing based approach to care a plausible solution?  


Follow Arlene’s Journey on Instagram and learn more about The Rose Yarde HERE.

Nurse, FounderCasha Doemland