In 2014, six weeks before my wedding day, my dad passed away. I was 29 years old, and our little family unit—my mom, dad, sister, and myself—we were closer than most families I know. We had never spent a Thanksgiving or Christmas apart. The grief of losing him was overwhelming and all encompassing. I felt cheated that he didn’t get to be at my wedding. That he would never meet my future children. But then, my sister didn’t even get to share her engagement with him. My mom had been with my dad since she was sixteen, more of her life with him by her side than without. Grief is personal. Grief is all relative.
Just a year after my dad passed away, my aunt, my mom’s sister, learned she had stage 4 lung cancer, and left us just mere months after the diagnosis.
It was bound to get better. We were due for a lucky streak.
Then last summer, someone very close to me, very important to me, was diagnosed with colon cancer—in her early 30s, the epitome of health. She had a major surgery to remove the cancer, and was outfitted with a temporary ileostomy bag during the recovery. She was supposed to have that for a couple of months. Then there was set back in her healing, and she had to have another major surgery, and still, 7 months later, has the ileostomy bag. How do you quantify your pain and grief and fear when a loved one is suffering, compared to the pain and grief and fear they’re feeling?
And then another aunt was diagnosed with cancer.
Oh, and then my mom’s dog died.
AND THEN DONALD TRUMP/ STEVE BANNON BECAME OUR PRESIDENT AND STARTED TEARING DOWN EVERY VALUE I HOLD DEAR AS AN AMERICAN AND A HUMAN BEING AND SOMETIMES LIFE FEELS TOO GODDAMNED HEAVY. I MEAN FOR FUCKS SAKE. FOR FUCKING FUCKS SAKE YOU GUYS.
But it’s all relative. Because even with all the heavy, heavy shit I’m feeling, I live with privileges I did nothing to earn. Even though I see and sometimes feel the crushing weight of the patriarchy, I’m white, straight, cis-gendered. I have a college education and a good job and live in a region with a good economy. My family is dealing with loss and illness and suffering, but isn’t getting shot at during traffic stops. I don’t have family members stuck in war-torn countries, unable to safely get to me. I’m not discriminated against because of my religion or where I happened to be born or because of who I love. I HAVE CLEAN DRINKING WATER.
It’s all relative.
So that’s why, under this hefty, weighty personal grief and pain, I still get out there and fight for our freedoms and rights. I march and protest and donate money and call representatives, and do everything I know how to do, which frankly still isn’t enough. I fight like hell to keep what others before me fought for (Like the right to vote, thanks to women who marched and protested. I'd like every single woman who disagrees with protesting to remember that), and fight like hell for everyone else to have that too.
I have clean drinking water.
We should all be so goddamned lucky.
*Note: because of ACA, my dad was able to get health insurance, with a pre-existing condition, at the end of his life. He was able to avoid a lot of the pain and suffering that comes with liver failure, because of that health insurance. The person I mentioned above with colon cancer… she can switch jobs if she chooses, switch insurance coverage, and still get her CRITICAL, LIFE-SAVING healthcare, because of the ACA. It's global and bigger than me and it's also personal.