I really did. I thought I was done. I wanted to be done. I was going to go back to posting about my crazy life with the disabled daughter, the absurdity of living with someone you love and not being able to really help her, fix her, make her stop having seizures. I was going back to posting poetry, idle musings about mindfulness, the beauty of the everyday, and yoga. I even started a food blog!
And then I talked, briefly, TO MY MOTHER. I love my mother, I really do. She was a wonderful mother, full of love and enthusiasm. I always felt safe and I always felt loved. But my mother is an ardent conservative and has grown increasingly so as she's gotten older. In fact, ardent might be an understatement. She listens to Rush Limbaugh and is, frankly, immovable (I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree?). She is ideological to the core and such is the nature of our political discourse (think fiery, think pyrotechnics like you've never seen, think Civil War and brother fighting brother) that we're better off not talking about much of anything of substance at all. My father is a tad more moderate than she and a lot more reasoned, but I'd actually rather not engage him in political discourse, other than the sharing of articles that we read, because, well -- I'll boil it down to this: NEVER THE TWAIN SHALL MEET.
When my sister recently shared with me that our parents were going to be traveling to Washington, D.C. to pay her a visit and also go to a Anti-Obamacare Rally with a few other couples (and who knows how many other people), I brushed it off. I didn't want to think about it. In fact, I really blocked it from my mind and forgot about it. But tonight, when my mother called and started to tell me what she was doing this weekend, I had to hang up the phone. Even typing this makes me feel shaky and almost sick to my stomach, eight hours later. I know she detected something in my voice, because she's good at that. But I said my civil good-bye and hung up. It's difficult to parse out these feelings and make sense of them. I believe in honoring one's mother and father. And I'm bound to them, inextricably, the ties made of not just duty, but love and respect for who they are and what they've made of their lives. So much is at stake, I guess. This isn't just the usual disagreement about Republicans and Democrats, liberal versus conservative, etc. etc. For me, this issue is intensely personal and, while I don't expect the rest of the country to feel the same way that I do about what's happening with healthcare reform, I expect wish that my parents would, at the very least, be sensitive to what this means for us. For Sophie. Because the facts, for us, are not about Obamacare and the "slippery slope to socialism." The facts are that we have a daughter whose chronic healthcare needs have caused not only grief and anxiety and panic and devastation and depression and near-bankruptcy but that the healthcare industry, as it exists now, has contributed greatly and, in some cases, caused this. I am being intensely personal now, knowing full well that there are tens of thousands, if not millions of people like us, of children like Sophie. And more than half the reason I fight for healthcare reform and for healthcare quality for all is for those other children. But when I read that I might have to buy into a special insurance pool, run by private enterprise, to get health insurance for my daughter (one of the concessions made, under pressure by politicians under the stranglehold of private enterprise, namely insurance), I feel profoundly depressed and anxious. I think What is going to happen to us? And us, in this particular instance, means us, The Husband, Sophie, my two boys and myself. I had felt a glimmer of hope when this whole healthcare reform initiative started, and let me tell you, it's the hope that can sustain you if you have a child with a disability and have fought some insurance battles before, if a bed for said child is taken away at a prestigious hospital because there aren't enough and the nurse who tells you this news answers your question If Madonna needed a bed for her seizing daughter, would she get one? and the answer is YES. You feel hope that there's going to be a change from the times you've had to fax prescriptions to Canada and London to get your hands on a drug that is too expensive for the FDA to look into approving but still costs you over $300 a month. You feel hope about a CHANGE when you hear that drug companies make grotesque profits marketing their wares on television, interfering with the sanctity of doctor/patient relationships, creating dependencies and, in some case, illness itself. I felt hope.
When I hear and know that my parents are going to support this kind of thing, the fighting of this CHANGE well, I feel defeated. And broken-hearted. And that, too, is an understatement. And that's why I can't speak to my mother, at least about her weekend rally. It's not about her right to protest something. It's much bigger because this protest is against people like me. Like my husband, like our sons. Like Sophie.
I now understand, a bit, the intensity of feelings that caused cousin to fight cousin and perhaps brother to fight brother during this country's terrible Civil War. It's a strange empathy and distinctly uncomfortable. It's horrible. It makes me wonder about the real power of love and family.
(I read THIS today and thought of the hecklers at the speech last night, the tight-lipped politicians, the rolling of the eyes, the shout "YOU LIE" with the finger pointed. Really. Really? There is nothing new under the sun?)