I always have to fight a little depression at the start of fall; I wait for the start of winter to really feel sad. I feel the loss of the summer sun, and the impending dark and cold of winter; this loss couples with some pretty brutal “anniversaries” in September and October. I have a lot of tools in the emotional toolbox, so I get through; some days with grace, others with the simple gratitude the day is over.
Last year brought a new and horrible addition to the sad anniversary calendar. On September 26 2019, the parents of one of my best friends died together quite suddenly. Our moms were pregnant together, and our childhood was spent going between all the houses in the neighborhood; kids were everywhere. Losing them was a loss of the heart; another set of our childhood parents gone.
I did what I do, I walked, I cried and then danced it out, and created a lovely little tribute piece danced by my beautiful dancers Corey and Ellie. A year of grief has given a new perspective; so, another short dance. Like the last dance , learned quickly, and immediately recorded. No rehearsals, just dancing. A solo danced by Ellie, this time for my good friend; my attempt to both ease her sorrow and share my sadness. Sadness shared becomes bearable, the weight still there, but no longer driving us to our knees. We can stand together in our grief and anger.
I am angry because we live in a world where so much division exists over the idea of life. I am tired of the ridiculousness. I am not going to get into what anyone chooses to do with their own bodies, I want to discuss how we treat people when they are here, living and breathing , alone in this world. I say alone because this is what I see; a senior population devastated by loneliness and isolation.
How come that concern for life doesn’t include the already living? Why are children hungry in this country? Why does a college education equal insurmountable debt for so many? Why do the same people who created the stimulus package call healthcare reform socialism? The isolation that comes from brutal financial struggle is real, and no one suffers more than our population of elders.
My friends parents, (Jim and Ro) didn’t need to die; however, btheir situation became dire and they didn’t have the help they needed. Pride, and their independent spirit, kept them silent. Speaking out wouldn’t have mattered. I know this now. Trying to arrange services for my mom is a fruitless and thankless task. Of course for me, the pressure is not great as my mom refuses all help right now. However, she is rapidly moving to a place where she will have no say; my sister and I will have to make choices for her and the options are few. I want my mom here with me; she does not want that. I work every day to live with this, and accept it with grace. Her financials don’t allow for the most wonderful of care facilities; it is a nightmare.
This same nightmare is being experienced by so many across our country. Why do we not care about those who have lived a long life? These remarkable people who have lived through tremendous societal changes find themselves unable to afford decent care and their quality of life in a world of technology is limited , as many don’t understand or care to learn new things.
It makes me feel hopeless.
For many of us these past weeks has
been a time of despair, fear and loss. How to move forward in this time of sheer hopelessness? A little clue again from the In Box. The weekend Reader touting the idea of wise hope*. The same hope that John Lewis spoke of in Across That Bridge. We must do the right things , keep fighting and living with love and valor, and let go of expectations. We must do the right thing , eventually it will come to fruition; it might not be ours to enjoy, but we must do it anyway. So I make my peace with this world, and will keep up the good fight. I will now try to add fighting for Seniors to my to do list; although, I frankly have no idea where to start. I welcome constructive suggestions; something behind delivering food. I remember as a young dancer, performing in nursing homes and feeling the palpable job loneliness of the audience. Yes, maybe someday my dancers will be able to perform again, but in the meantime what can I to do for the hungry, the lonely, the desperate senior who is clinging to their life and home by their fingertips. I can’t help my mother, or Ro and Jim, but I need to find some way to make a difference.
In the days since I wrote this original draft, President Trump, the First Lady, and top republican aides and senators have contracted Covid. I sincerely wish that all return to health, quickly, and with few or no lingering symptoms. President Trump is a senior citizen, already at an unhealthy weight , and often refused to wear a mask; a high risk patient. Despite paying little or no taxes, he will receive the greatest medical care available free of cost. Despite a blatant disregard for science and common sense, Trump will have every medical intervention at his disposal. It is , what it is... unfair and somewhat grotesque. Don’t we all deserve this? My mother sure does, and Ro and Jim not only deserved good health coverage; they desperately needed it; health issues were a major source of anxiety, stress and yes, pain. It is hard to live with the suffering of our parents and grandparents. The brutality of Jim and Ro’s last days stay with me; the grief will never end for my best friend. Despair is haunting and makes it hard to go on.
But then this, a final gift from my garden. Probably the last bloom from my Desert Sunset Rose. It looks for all the world a double bloom surrounded by a heart. No special equipment or filters, just me, traipsing around the garden with my old iPhone 8. I am choosing to be fanciful and am taking this as a sign from Jim and Ro. No more sickness, worries or pain; they are now a double bloom of love and ; perhaps, a wise hope that a life well-lived will be rewarded with an eternity of peace.