Mark Meadows is my congressman.
I say that with a deep sense of shame and frustration. He is somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun and not quite as modern.
Meadows leads the Freedom Caucus, which believes in nothing more than its freedom to take basic rights away from the rest of us.
It was Meadows who inadvertently saved us from Trumpcare by refusing to vote for it because it didn’t take away enough. It left mandates for coverage of mental illness and addiction, and Meadows objected to that.
Meadows has no respect for human life, although he calls himself “pro-life” and “Christian,” even though the only life he supports (other than his own, of course) is that of the fetus, and the last time he followed any of the teachings of Christ — well, I don’t know when that might have been.
He is an advocate of taxing the poor, not raising their wages and not giving them food, shelter or health care. He sees public education as a form of welfare, and he wants all forms of welfare abolished.
Apparently, he thinks Jesus actually said, “I got mine, get your own.”
So, why is such a despicable character still in office?
Because my party shrugs its shoulders and says, “His district is gerrymandered and the Koch Brothers fund him.”
OK, so we just give up? That’s it?
This last time we put up a pretty good candidate, a retired engineer who was born and raised here, a man whose name invokes history, Rick Bryson, of the Bryson City Brysons.
But no one would donate to his campaign. “It’s a lost cause,” people said. “We can’t beat Meadows.”
And you know what? We didn’t because we went into it believing we would lose and we were unwilling to fight.
This is why I considered leaving the party. I’m damn sick of this we-can’t-beat-them attitude.
Damn right we can’t beat them, not unless we actually try. Bryson called Meadows out on his misogyny and on keeping a sexual predator on the payroll for months after the man’s aggression was made public, but his voice was barely heard because it costs money in this climate to have any voice at all.
But that’s not enough. We have to call him out on his claims of being Christian and pro-life because he is neither.
I’m not good at raising money. It’s just not a talent I possess. But I am good at calling people out on hypocrisy, and Meadows is about as hypocritical as it gets.
Meadows claims to follow someone who told us to feed the hungry, care for the sick, visit people in prison and love one another. He shows no evidence of doing any of those things.
Two years ago, I went to one of his town halls. I was the second person in the door and I was told I had to write down my question. So I asked whether he was planning on fixing the flaws in the Affordable Care Act, you know, since he was a follower of Christ, who instructed him to care for the sick.
I was told the questions would be asked in the order they were submitted, good or bad. My question was submitted second and eight questions were asked. Mine was not among them.
So I walked up to Meadows afterward to ask him why he lied, but I never got the chance. I got as far as introducing myself and he said, “Oh, I know who you are,” and he turned his back to me.
That was it. “I know who you are.”
He knows I’m the woman who lost her son to a broken health care system, but he doesn’t care about that. He cares about getting more money for himself and his cronies and the rest of us can die for all he cares.
This is my Congressman and I’m supposed to shrug and say, “Oh well, we can’t beat him.” Really?
There has to be someone in the 11th district who has the know-how to do this. Gerrymandered or not, it can be done. We ousted Tim Moffitt from the North Carolina House in 2014, even though we were told it was impossible. The district was gerrymandered and there was a ton of money behind Moffitt. He was next in line to be speaker of the House. But Brian Turner and his volunteers made calls, knocked on doors, held town hall meetings — in short, we worked our butts off. And we won.
It can be done. We don’t have to settle for such an immoral man. Meadows does not represent us; he represents the people who fund him.
We can do this. We can defeat him. We should at least try.
It looks like Trumpcare is dead in the water.
It’s fine to take a little time to breathe a sigh of relief, but this fight is far from over.
The thugs who want to destroy the Affordable Care Act are still busy wreaking their havoc.
Already, the occupant of the White House has directed the IRS not to enforce the mandate to buy insurance. That means the law will fail as young and healthy people bail out because they won’t face consequences for doing so, and that alone is enough.
Sure, the thugs didn’t get their tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, but they have plenty of time to do that.
Even if 45 is impeached for his collusion with the Russians, and he’s removed from office, we have to deal with Pence, who is every bit as dangerous. If it turns out Pence was involved in the Russian scheme and he goes, too, that leaves us with the sociopathic Paul Ryan.
Sociopaths and psychopaths seem normal. They appear healthy, but they have no empathy. They can only feel what affects them directly. That’s what made Ryan able to have his drunken college frat boy fantasies about pulling the rug out from under people in need. And his peers consider him to be the smart one. This brain malfunction is how he can call himself a “Christian” but follow none of Christ’s teachings. Because Christ never actually said, “I got mine, get your own.”
The Republicans who were going to vote against Trumpcare, members of the so-called Freedom Caucus, were doing so because it didn’t go far enough. It allowed poor people access to addiction treatment and mental health care. Apparently, my representative, Mark Meadows, head of the so-called Freedom Caucus, thinks more people should die from lack of access to care, not fewer.
They still want to change Medicaid to a block-grant program, which would offer set amounts to the states, and those amounts won’t grow even as the need does. That means fewer people will be served and more will die.
They still want to close women’s health clinics, which for many low-income women are their only lifeline to health care. Without these clinics, the women who use them will have no access to birth control, to mammograms, Pap smears and other diagnostic tests. They won’t have access to safe abortions, and if you really want women to bear every child that’s conceived, shouldn’t you want them to have access to care so those babies will survive? Apparently not.
This crowd also wants to de-fund WIC, which provides pregnant and nursing mothers and their babies the nutrition they need. It is one of the most efficient and successful of all the government programs, but these thugs want it gone.
And, then there’s Meals on Wheels, which 45 de-funds in his budget. Yes, it gets most of its money from private donations, but it still needs the money it gets from the government.
These thugs have an agenda. One tiny piece of it has been thwarted, and we can and should be happy about that, but they have any number of means to achieve their goals. They are not done. We can not claim victory until they are gone.
So, stay active. Register people to vote and then help them get to the polls. Run for office yourself if you can — any office, including city council or school board.
And above all, stay woke. That means pay attention to what’s going on. The thugs are not done.
Nine years ago yesterday, Mike told me to tell his story.
It wasn’t in so many words, of course. He told me I was about to be dealt a card that was pretty hard to trump: the Dead Kid Card. He had been playing the Cancer Card for three years. Every time he didn’t want to do something, he pointed to his chemo port and said, “But I have cancer.”
It was meant to amuse more than anything else, and it did amuse him no end. But on this day nine years ago yesterday, he was serious.
“I don’t want that card,” I said.
“Too bad,” he countered. “It’s being dealt and you can’t stop it. You have to do something positive with it. You have to figure out how you can use it for good.”
I have played that card by telling his story, by using his face to tell people what happens when access to care is denied.
Yesterday, I was in Raleigh for an advocacy day sponsored by the NC NAACP. Most of the legislators I spoke to are in favor of expanding Medicaid, but one was not.
“Was he working?” the legislator asked me when I started to tell Mike’s story.
“He was working and he was a full-time student,” I said. “And he was a volunteer, and through all of it he had a 3.75 GPA.”
And then I took it one step more.
“And perhaps you can tell me when not working became a crime worthy of the death penalty. I thought that was reserved for murderers, not people who are lazy,” I said. “Oh, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to work and not depend on handouts.”
He was a little taken aback, but he looked at Mike’s picture again.
“Did he try to buy insurance?” he asked.
Of course he tried to get insurance, but no one would sell it to him because a birth defect was a pre-existing condition.
He wanted to know more about this tragedy. That’s when I explained to him that this is not a unique story, that up to 2,000 families in North Carolina face the same thing every year because we haven’t expanded Medicaid.
“I’m a navigator, so I help people enroll in insurance plans through the Marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act. But if someone’s income doesn’t rise above the poverty level, I have to break the news to them that there’s nothing I can do to get them access to health care.
“Do you know what that does to me?” I asked. “Do you have any idea how it feels to tell someone they can’t have the care they need? It’s like sentencing someone to death even though they’ve done nothing to deserve it. It breaks my heart every time because I know the odds are that they or someone in their family will suffer and perhaps die for no reason other than the people in charge in their state don’t care whether they live or die.”
These are real people, dying at the rate of up to five a day, I told him. Every day in North Carolina. They die from cancer that was diagnosed too late, from complications of diabetes that isn’t controlled because the patient can’t afford the glucose testing supplies, from strokes brought on by undiagnosed or uncontrolled high blood pressure, from heart attacks brought on by untreated high cholesterol.
The legislator listened to me. I’ll give him credit for that because most of them won’t talk to me. In fact, two have had me arrested for waiting outside their offices to talk to them, as is my right under the state Constitution.
So, I was pleased that this man would see me and hear me out, that he appeared to listen to what I had to say.
After the legislative visits, I spoke at a press conference. After Rev. William Barber invoked the passage in Isaiah about unjust laws that cause pain to the poor, I invoked the Judgment Day passage from Matthew.
I envision Jesus saying to these politicians who put political ideology before human life, “I was sick and you repealed the Affordable Care Act or you refused to expand Medicaid. I was hungry and you voted to cut food stamps and Meals on Wheels …”
I don’t know if I changed anyone’s mind yesterday, but perhaps I planted a seed. Maybe that one legislator will see Mike’s photo in his mind and he’ll begin to understand that we’re dealing with real people’s lives here.
Nine years ago yesterday, it was Friday. We would have just 11 more days with him.
I was visiting my family in South Georgia a couple weeks ago, playing with my brilliant and beautiful great-granddaughter, Reaghan, when she noticed the pin I wear every day.
“What’s this?” she asked tapping on its face.
“It’s an angel,” I said. “I wear it all the time.”
I knew there would come a day when I would tell her about Uncle Mike. I wasn’t sure where to start. She’s almost 4, so she understands that people die. I wasn’t sure how to tell her why he died, though.
“Well, did you know Pop-Pop had a brother? His name was Mike.”
I told her he got sick and no one would take care of him.
She looked shocked.
“Because he wasn’t rich enough to pay them,” I said. “To some people, money is more important than anything else. Uncle Mike didn’t have much.”
I wanted to focus more on who he was, though, so I told her he was the silliest person any of us had ever known — a real goofball.
She wasn’t sure she believed that.
“Oh no, Grandma’s right,” my son said. “Uncle Mike was a goofball.”
I brought out my phone, where I have a bunch of photos stored. There was one of him in a flower petal bathing cap, another of him making a goofy face, one of him and me making faces …
“He was a goofball,” she said, giggling.
I told her I’d had another angel pin, but it fell off and I never found it, so a man I know who makes jewelry made this one for me.
Reaghan dubbed the pin, The Angel Mike. He watches over all of us, she said, now that he’s a real angel.
That’s when my granddaughter, Meghan, told me she’ll have a memorial table at her wedding next month, and on it will be her favorite photo of her and Mike. It was taken a few days before his wedding, on the day I gave him the handmade quilt that I had just given her as a wedding gift.
When Mike died, Janet gave the quilt back to me because she wanted it to be handed down to another generation, and they had no children.
When I asked Meghan if she would like to have Mike’s quilt instead of me making her one, she cried.
“You’d give that to me?” she choked.
“You’re the first one to get married,” I said. “This is meant to be handed on.”
If only Mike had lived long enough to meet Reaghan. If only he had been here to see Meghan get married. If only … if only …
Nine years ago today, James and Janet went to Goodwill and bought a wheelchair, which they dubbed the Mike-around.
Mike was too weak to walk very far, so they thought the wheelchair was just the thing to get him out onto the deck and into the fresh spring air.
Nine years ago today it was a Thursday. We had 12 days left with him.
Nine years ago today, I brought my son home to die.
In my heart, I feel as though it could have been yesterday.
I remember everything about the day because it’s etched on my heart as the day his impending death became real.
We had coffee in the living room of his apartment after his roommate and best friend, James, left for work. From across the room, Mike looked up at me and said, “I’m ready for this to be over.”
I was not ready. I would never be ready. I’m still not ready to be without him.
We had an appointment for his third chemo infusion, hoping to give him a few more weeks or months.
But he hadn’t gained any weight at the last appointment, and his doctor had said he needed to put on two pounds. I had gone to the Duke Chapel to pray for those two pounds. It didn’t seem like too much to ask. Two pounds.
But it wasn’t to be. We drove from Cary to Durham to the cancer center at Duke University Medical Center. We passed by Mangum Street and he laughed and asked what I though man gum was.
“I can’t help it,” he said. “I think that every time I pass that street.”
We got to the clinic and he stepped on the scale. He had lost another pound.
“I tried!” he said. “I really tried!”
I’ll never forget the look on his face — frustration, disappointment, disbelief.
Dr. Herb Hurwitz came in and told us there was nothing more he could do. His eyes filled with tears as he said, “You’re a good person, Mike. You don’t deserve what’s happening to you.”
I remember thinking it would have been nice if Dr. Patrick Hammen in Savannah had felt that way. Perhaps if he had, Mike and I wouldn’t he hearing these words from Dr. Hurwitz now.
But Hammen had given up on Mike before he even started treatment for his recurrence — which wouldn’t have happened if Hammen had been willing to take payments instead of demanding cash up front for a colonoscopy three and four years earlier.
Hammen had been very matter-of-fact when he told Mike the cancer was back and a cure was unlikely, and he never came back to check on Mike during his nine more days in the hospital.
And here, Dr. Hurwitz was weeping as he told us there was nothing more left to do and that Mike should come home with me and enjoy what time he had left.
As we were leaving the clinic, I was pushing Mike in a wheelchair and he looked up at me.
“How much time do you think I have left?” he asked. “Two weeks?”
“I hope it’s more than that,” I said.
But it was not.
We called James and Janet and they both met us at the apartment. They had packed up a few things they knew Mike would want, including his gaming computer, his game console and games, a few books and all his plaid flannel pajama bottoms and T-shirts, underwear and ostomy supplies. It all fit in the back of my Honda CRV.
At that point, these few things were about all he owned, except for a massive antique desk, which would go to Janet.
James and Janet would come out to Asheville the following day; Mike and I would do the four-hour trip alone, stopping at an outlet store about halfway home so I could get a memory foam pillow for his bony butt. I think it was as much an excuse for him to have a cigarette as any soreness in his backside, but I was willing to indulge him.
He weighed about 102 pounds at this point, but he would lose more since his body had stopped absorbing any food.
For the next two weeks, I would share him with friends and family from as far away as New York and New England, from Savannah and Cary, and from Asheville. All of us tried to soak up as much of his presence, wisdom, humor and love as we could. We knew it would have to last us a lifetime.
Nine years ago today, he came home to die. I would have given my own life to spare his, but it was not to be, and the pain of losing him has not abated. I was so unwilling to imagine life beyond his death that I convinced myself my heart would stop when his did. It didn’t, of course, and all I know to do now is to fight for access to health care for everyone because no one should have to go through what my family has endured.
On the day he died, some 45,000 Americans were dying every year from lack of access to care. Things are somewhat better now because more than 20 million people have access to care than had it then, thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
But the occupant of the White House, the Speaker of the House and other Republican politicians want to go back to that. Perhaps if they had to watch their own children die the way I had to, perhaps if they had to live with the unspeakable pain I do, they would change their minds.
But I wouldn’t wish that on anyone — even on them.
Nine years ago today, I brought my child home to die.
We would have two more weeks with him.
If the powers that be in the Republican Party want people to die, then they got it right with this budget.
Cut Meals on Wheels and stop feeding hungry children.
Get rid of the arts, cut funds for medical research, zero-out PBS and slash funds for education.
And while we talk about how Americans have equal opportunities, let’s cut assistance for college students and then we can call them lazy when they can’t go to college and minimum wage is still less than half of what people need to pay their bills.
Oh, and let’s not help poor people in cold climates to heat their homes. So what if they starve? It’s their own fault for living in a cold place. They should move to Florida or Texas or something.
While we’re at it, let’s slash after-school programs so families that are struggling to get by on minimum wage have no safe place for their children while they work. And then when their children get in trouble, we can say their parents are to blame for neglecting them.
Well, maybe they shouldn’t have children if they can’t afford it, right? Then, why are we closing women’s health clinics? That’s the only place many low-income women have to get reliable contraception. But then, these clowns don’t think women should have access to contraception. Or abortion. We are, after all, pro-life, aren’t we?
Oh, and let’s cut programs that offer nutrition to pregnant and nursing mothers. If the kids don’t get good nutrition for brain development, then they won’t need college anyway.
And we can get rid of programs that help people with their rent in emergencies — you know, if the car breaks down or someone gets sick.
And speaking of getting sick, the GOP plan for health non-care is breathtakingly cruel. It seems intended to kill poor people.
But, hey, let’s fund war. Lots and lots of money in this budget for more war, and for a wall we don’t need, since Mexicans aren’t coming here in great numbers anymore.
I have a question for people who call themselves Christian or pro-life: How can you reconcile your support for these lethal policies that target the poor with surgical precision?
Have you read the red print in the Bible? That’s the stuff Jesus says — and in case you’ve forgotten, Jesus Christ is the person Christians are supposed to be following.
I wish the Pope himself would write to Paul Ryan and tell him his policies are deeply, grossly immoral.
I don’t think anyone can make the occupant of the White House a more moral person. I think he believes his only concern should be with the wealthy and powerful. I think he’s just too cruel, willfully ignorant and immoral to change his ways.
But the Republicans are skipping merrily along, allowing him to wreak havoc across the country and around the world.
This is evil on a massive scale. We must resist. We must persist. And we must find a way to enlist Republicans in the cause. This is not about party; this is about morality. This is about fighting the greatest evil the world has seen since Hitler and Stalin. We can’t afford to lose.
The Jewish Community Center here in Asheville, NC, received a bomb threat yesterday.
That, in itself, is scary enough, but ours was just one of 16 Jewish centers that received bomb threats yesterday.
Sixteen in one day. That’s not a coincidence.
Ever since the person occupying the White House was elected, hate has been on the rise. Bigots and racists have gotten the message loud and clear: Hate is in vogue again.
The incidents began immediately after the election. A Jewish friend of mine in Florida came out of synagogue and put her grandson into the back seat of her car, and as she drove off, she was followed by a pickup truck with bumper stickers supporting the person who won the electoral college vote and sporting a confederate flag. They pulled up alongside her car and began shouting anti-Semitic remarks.
Muslims began to report being harassed, as did LGBTQ people. Sporadic reports came in of violence, threats and vandalism at mosques, synagogues and cemeteries.
In the month after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center documented nearly 1,100 incidents of bias-related harassment and intimidation like the one my friend experienced.
Last Wednesday, a white man walked into a restaurant in Olathe, Kan., and shot two Indian men, killing one, while shouting, “Get out of my country!” A third man, a white man who tried to intervene, also was shot and is recovering.
The man in the White House said these incidents have nothing to do with him and his rhetoric, but I disagree. When you rail against immigrants, when you say all of Islam is evil, when you ban Muslims from traveling into our country and detain and search and harass anyone who looks Muslim at the airport, when you fail to mention Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when you appoint a known white supremacist as your chief advisor, you encourage hate.
It used to be unfashionable to be a racist, but now they are emboldened by the election of one of their own.
What’s worse is that no one in Congress is calling for an investigation into this coordinated effort to intimidate Jews — and let’s not pretend that’s not what this is because 16 bomb threats against Jewish centers in a single day isn’t a coincidence.
I sent faxes to both my senators and my representative, calling on them to denounce this hate and to call for a federal investigation, since this went across state lines.
I ask you to do the same.
I stand with my Jewish brothers and sisters. I also stand with my Muslim, LGBTQ and immigrant brothers and sisters from around the world because I take seriously the commandment to love my neighbors — and all of humanity are my neighbors.
I was ready to make a very public exit from the Democratic party if Tom Perez won the chairmanship, but other events Saturday raised my hopes for the party.
It started with the precinct cluster meetings in the morning. I’m vice-chair of my precinct (45.1 in Buncombe County, NC), and in previous years, the chair, John Parker, and I had to scramble to get five people out to a meeting so we could have a quorum. We had to make calls and get people to the meetings so our precinct wouldn’t lose our “organized” status.
“Can you just stop by for a half hour while we vote on resolutions and elect officers?” we begged. We were able to keep organized, but barely.
Yesterday, instead of begging for people to show up, we had 16 people, several of whom were young and progressive. The others were from a retirement community, and I was afraid they might be conservative Democrats like the ones who killed several progressive resolutions last year, but they were old-style progressives who decided to become active again so we could take our party back from pro-corporate influences.
Last year a conservative banker convinced people to vote against a resolution calling for re-regulation of the banks and against a resolution calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. He wouldn’t stop talking until he had the votes to defeat these two resolutions.
This year, the banker was nowhere to be seen and both resolutions passed unanimously, along with resolutions calling for an immediate raise in the minimum wage to $15, plus one calling for a single-payer health care system. In all, we passed nearly a dozen progressive resolutions, all unanimously.
I wrote two resolutions — the ones calling for the $15 minimum wage and Medicare for all — and most of the precincts passed them without amendments. One precinct leader asked if the minimum wage resolution could be amended to phase in the $15 over three to five years. I told them no. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, five years without a living wage is not an option. The raise is needed now, and in five years, inflation adjustments should have it up to about $20. People need to be able to feed, clothe and shelter their families NOW, not in five years.
“Well, these a pretty conservative people,” the precinct chair said.
“Those are the very people we need to outnumber to take the party back,” I said. “Go ahead and write your own resolution, but mine stays as is.”
These new party activists were Bernie Sanders supporters, determined to move the Democratic Party back to its FDR progressivism, back to the days when LBJ signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. They were inspired by the organization, Our Revolution, which is comprised of progressive fighters.
I left the precinct meeting with renewed faith that we can do this.
From there, I went to speak at an Our Revolution rally downtown. We had 500 people turn out to call for improvements to our health care system, from support of keeping and improving the ACA, to a public option in the marketplace, to single-payer.
I told my son’s story and reminded people that 45,000 Americans died the same way every year before the ACA took effect. We’re still losing 15,000 to 20,000 in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.
What I saw yesterday was a determination to take the Democratic Party left again.
When it was announced that Tom Perez won the party chair election, we were encouraged by the fact that the election was close and that our candidate, Keith Ellison, is now the vice-chair and that Perez has vowed to work closely with him.
I am encouraged. We have to remember that the Republican right wing has worked since the 1960s to achieve what it has, and that in one election cycle, we progressives have made remarkable progress.
So, let’s follow the Indivisible playbook. Let’s take this nation back in the 2018 elections, despite gerrymandering, despite voter suppression laws. We are the majority. If we work for this, and most importantly, if we vote, we will not fail.
Dear Sen. Burr, Sen. Tillis and Rep. Meadows:
You know me.
You know me because for the last nine years I have hounded you and others about the importance of access to health care.
I have hounded you because nine years ago yesterday, I got a call that every parent dreads.
It was about 9:45 a.m., and I was on my way to work.
“Mom,” he said, “the cancer’s back. There’s nothing they can do. I might have a few weeks, maybe a few months.”
It was as though I had been punched in the chest, full force, by a very strong man.
“How do I begin to say goodbye to everyone?” he asked.
The next six weeks are etched on my heart, burned into it like a cattleman’s brand.
I am forced to relive the death of my child because he couldn’t get access to health care.
He was uninsured, not because he was lazy — he was as hard a worker as anyone I’ve ever known. He was a full-time student, working in a restaurant and volunteering with his 12-step group to help other people get and stay sober.
But a birth defect — one that left him vulnerable to colon cancer — was a pre-existing condition, so no insurance company would sell him a policy. Without insurance, he was unable to get the cancer screenings he needed, and of course, he developed cancer.
He went to the Emergency Room when he got sick. He went three times and left with the wrong diagnoses, the wrong medicines and a bill because the ER only has to stabilize patients. I’ll bet you know that when you tell people they have access to care there when they really don’t. My son was given laxatives and pain pills when the problem was a malignant tumor blocking his colon.
By the time anyone did anything for him, he was vomiting fecal matter. Can you imagine that?
No, I guess not. You and your families have access to care whenever you need it.
By the time he got any care, it was too late to save his life. He was forced to leave his wife to get Medicaid. It took 37 months for his disability to be approved — he was dead nine days before his first check came.
Michael was lucky because the many people who loved him did all we could to make sure he had a place to live and food and clothing — and even a few little luxuries like a cell phone.
But all the love and support he had weren’t enough to save his life — all because insurance companies wanted to protect their profits.
My son died on April 1, 2008. I sat beside him, his hand in mine, as he breathed his last.
I had believed I would die when he did. I couldn’t imagine that my heart would continue to beat after his stopped.
But there I was, heart beating, lungs inhaling and exhaling. I was too devastated to cry.
Have you ever had that happen? Something so horrible that you can’t even cry because you’re so paralyzed? It’s not something I would wish on anyone — even you.
So I decided I would work to make sure everyone — not just every citizen, but every human being — gets access to health care.
We managed to make some progress with the Affordable Care Act. Some 32 million Americans have gained access, saving tens of thousands of lives every year, and now you want to repeal that law.
And you still call yourselves “pro-life,” and “Christian.” You are neither, and I pray you will face judgment for your crimes.
Since it’s unlikely you’ll ever lose a child the way I did, let me tell you what it’s like.
I would give my own life to have him back in the world. I so miss those late-night phone calls that began with, “Hi Mom, I knew you’d still be up.”
I miss the calls that started, “When are people going to learn to fucking drive?” when he was stuck in traffic.
I miss having him in the kitchen, eating an entire loaf of fresh-baked bread with the proclamation, “The only thing wrong with this bread is that it’s not at my house!”
I miss watching cooking shows with him, punctuated with, “Oh, you know what?” which was followed by an idea for a recipe. We both wrote a lot of recipes. I had hoped we would write a cookbook together someday.
I miss slapping his hand away from the turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, and I miss him emptying the entire gravy boat onto his plate so I had to refill it for the rest of us.
I miss how much he loved his wife and his nieces and nephew, his brother, his many, many friends, and me.
I cry most days because the pain of losing him hasn’t gotten any better. On our shared birthday, I go with a friend to where we scattered his ashes and I sing Happy Birthday to me, while my friend tries to drown me out singing it to him. I miss that Michael and I used to sing it that way.
See, I told him he could have the birthday when I was done with it. It was a joke on each of the 33 birthdays he had before we were robbed of his life by a broken health care policy.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that I was advised to have an abortion when I was pregnant with him, but I CHOSE not to. I am much more pro-life than you are because I believe life is sacred even after it exits the birth canal.
Now you’re talking about repealing the ACA, which would condemn tens of thousands of Americans to slow and painful deaths. It would condemn tens of thousands of families to suffer the same loss mine has.
But you don’t care about that because your friends profit so much more when people suffer the way my child did.
I have a fantasy: You know the passage in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus sorts the people in to goats on his left and lambs on his right?
I have a fantasy of you walking in and confidently sitting among the lambs, only to have Jesus say, “Excuse me, you’re in the wrong seats. You belong over there on the left. I was sick and you told me I was lazy because I didn’t have a job with insurance. I was hungry and you voted to take away my food stamps and then you voted to keep my wages too low to be able to afford decent food and shelter.”
Then you say, “But we never saw you sick or hungry …”
This is where Jesus cuts you off and points to my son and the tens of thousands of others like him.
“Whatever you did to them, you did also to me.”
Your constituent, Leslie Boyd