I Got Mine

An acquaintance is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.  If she was a family member I would have researched and could have provided the actual stats– since she’s not, I heard “pancreatic cancer” and thought, oh, that does not sound good.  I took her flowers, said the right things, and then changed the subject in my head because I can’t bear to think about what will happen.  Not because she might die or be in pain; of course that will happen.  The scenario I’m talking about is the one I’ve run through in my head hundreds of times– change the disease or circumstances slightly and I’ve been there, if only in my mind– this is where she loses the house, and the custody of her grand kids (to foster care, not to the parents {jailed, on drugs, I forget} who should’ve been raising them).  She and her disabled husband then live in a one bedroom crap apartment on his disability check (because up until now she worked full time and they had an actual house with a mortgage, that needed a bit of work but had flowers outside, a porch, it was HOME) until she dies.  So I know this song because I’ve hummed it many times– just haven’t had to sing it as my own– YET.

I used to say of Republicans that “they have no imagination.”  They can’t imagine being poor or black or a woman raising children on her own.  They can’t imagine being gay.  They can’t imagine being just one damn paycheck away from losing the house.  They might say of my acquaintance, Y, “You should’ve planned better, had some savings for a rainy day.”  OK, let’s review tape: Pregnant in and dropped out of high school.  Disabled husband.  Grown kids unable to care for their own.  A  job paying $8.25/hr, 35 hours a week.  In this life, 1.) she did not have an abortion, 2.) she worked her whole life, 3.) she took in her kids’ kids and did not leave them to the foster system, 4.) she bought a house, 5.) she did not go into debt– a single time, –until cancer kept her from working.  She built a life quite aligned with GOP ideals– but without the GOP resources (a living wage, a chance to put by).

I made some phone calls– it’s somewhat in my line of work to do so– to see if there was help available.  Guess what?  NO.

I thought about calling the mortgage company, or writing to a celebrity, or doing one of these kickstarter/give forward things, where you build a page to raise money for a cause.  You have to make the page super appealing to catch the attention of bored, inert givers, who might not look twice at the agony.  Fuck.  Like a fucking bake sale for wounded vets, a Beef n Beer for a kid with leukemia.

It’s like we all are saying to her, “I.   GOT.   MINE.”   And I’ll give you a couple of pennies if the production value of your life crisis makes it compelling.

What I realize now is that it’s not that Republicans have no imagination– it’s that they have too much fucking confidence and optimism.  It’s not until it actually HAPPENS, like Rob Portman’s son coming out as gay, that (surprised, somewhat defeated) they realize there’s a need for compassion here.  The “I Got Mine” aspect of it is this:  “I have a lovely wife who is disease-free or with the help of the best health care is in remission, I have 2-3 kids who are not gay, not diagnosed with a mental illness, I have savings and a pension, health insurance, total income security (if I lose this gig there will be others): I Got Mine.  When confronted with how painful life can be for others, they choose to look away– “la la la la la,” they plug their ears.

I am a pessimist.  I assume life will be hard at times, that cancer is in the offing, a job will be lost, the standard of living will be less.  If my will alone was enough there would be resources available to Y, just the $20,000 or so she needs to get to the other side of chemo, to keep the house until they have a plan, to figure out what to do with the children if /when she goes.  But my will does fucking nothing, and my voice is a mouse’s fart.  I’m the fucking Who in Whoville and Horton is nearly deaf, and that it’s me who’s appalled and not someone with a louder voice is the stuff of my nightmares.  And Y’s.