I have been mentally drained lately. It started with me picking up a book I had put down last month, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This is a phenomenal book about caring for the aging, the struggles and triumphs of the medical professions and the emerging hospice/assisted living movement. It’s a real look at people who either don’t want a say in how they die, they just want all the treatment possible, and the people who want to know what’s next and plan for their care. So many things come up in this book that remind me of my MIL and leave me hurting and thinking. One part that really hit me on Saturday was a personal story of a woman who was in assisted living and was in extreme pain, spitting up blood, etc but didn’t tell anyone. She suffered silently and didn’t get help until she was having a heart attack – and died. I wonder if that was J my MIL. She had been so run down and weak for months on end and it seemed worse the week prior to her death. Was she really struggling and not telling us? We talked about that sometimes, if she was more uncomfortable than we realized. She didn’t complain much- except about why she wasn’t dead yet. It hurts me to think that she might have been hiding her true difficulty from us so that she could speed up her death on her own terms. I hope that wasn’t really the case and I’m trying not to kick myself for not noticing that something might have been going on.
We are going to Burlington/Boston, Massachusettes this weekend to bury C’s parents. They share an urn and will be laid to rest with his grandparents in a designated cemetary plot. There has been a lot of back and forth about if there is really a headstone there that needs to be written on or if there isn’t one at all. The granite guy and cemetary people don’t seem to be on the same page about what exists so we’ll find out on Saturday! C’s brother and brother-in-law will be there for the burial and then we’ll have some kind of lunch afterward. I think C’s brother won’t really feel the sting of her death until we are there without her. I know he’s been struggling and it doesn’t seem like his mom is dead. But she really is, as hard as it is for all of us.
If you are watching the news, you are flooded with the shooting of Pulse in Orlando, Florida, USA. This attack on the gay community has terrified me and hurt me in ways that are so hard to even talk about. I can’t talk about it without weeping, without thinking of how we are set back by this. I am struggling to make sense of it and to still be “proud” and “out.” I am not very “out” in general life because of these kind of fears of violence and disproval. Now that something has happened on a large scale it makes me want to go back into the closet, be even more stealth, and separate myself. I’ve never said this but today I told C “I’m glad we don’t go to gay places” because I don’t want to face this reality. I haven’t felt fear for my safety since I was first coming out 15 years ago. Now it seems so real and that it could happen anywhere. Bars and clubs are home for so many gays. I used to be at the gay bars every weekend because that’s where my people were, my safe place to be a lesbian and meet others, to not worry about being judged. These places aren’t just a hang out, they are a community center for the LGBTQ community. No one should be afraid to go anywhere but the truth is, we have the potential to be scared to go everywhere. I want to know I can gather with my gay friends and not worry about a hater throwing shit at me, being rude, or shooting me. My brain is on repeat that “this is not a national setback” and “I could be next.” I don’t want civil rights to get stalled and I don’t want to let my fear and anxiety change me into someone else. I also don’t want to weep when I think about all those beautiful souls who died for nothing. There was no cause or choice on their end. They were dancing and having a great time with friends and they were murdered. MURDERED! Nothing will take away the pain and suffering of the loved ones of the deceased and injured. This will forever be a mark on our country and on the LGBT community. I hope I live to see a day when none of us are murdered for being our true selves.