I know. I’m a thirty-something white-privileged woman who grew up in the rural Midwest culture of hunting and fishing, drinking, and football. The most common threats I face are wild animals, snowstorms, and drunk drivers.
I’m not here to tell you I get it – the complex layers of race issues in America, the history and the causes and all of the intense hurt surrounding injustice.
But please don’t think, because of my status, that I’m unaffected. Few people are unaffected these days by such sad times in our country.
Yes, racism exists. I knew it long before the formation of Black Lives Matter. I knew it before it was on the news every single day — before we knew the names Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
I knew it when I was twenty and I exited the interstate in downtown Chicago rush hour traffic in desperation for a public bathroom. I found a fast food restaurant and walked in, quickly noticing that I was the only white person there…
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I recently interviewed two women living with Multiple Sclerosis for a Grand Edits guest feature. When I asked them to speak about the life they envisioned as young women compared to the reality of their lives today, they both agreed that though they never dreamed they’d have MS and surely don’t want MS, the diagnosis has allowed them to connect with and help others who are facing the same illness, or working through other life struggles.
I think about this often – the way our circumstances create opportunities to help others who are suffering.
In my days of volunteering as a client advocate at a pregnancy resource center, a young woman came to an appointment in distress because her baby (still in utero) had been diagnosed with renal hydronephrosis. This malformation causes dilation in the kidney pelvis and can mean surgical correction shortly after birth.
My client and I had a long conversation that day about the what-ifs. It’s hard for a momma to be faced with the possibility of her newborn baby being whisked off to surgery in his or her first days in the world. We talked a lot about fear that day. About vulnerability.
I told her I understood how she was feeling, and I really meant it. My own son had been diagnosed with renal hydronephrosis less than two years prior to the conversation. I remembered the diagnosis, the scans, the machines. I remembered the fear.
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Yesterday, I roasted a chicken for the first time in months.
We’ve been ill. We’ve been distracted. We’ve been in perpetual motion.
Last week, I said enough already and promised myself I’d make my way back to the kitchen – I’d make space for food that demands forethought and time.
We called Dottie from the farm up the road and ordered eggs, bacon, and a chicken.
The first thing I did this morning was turn the calendar to February.
January was a bit of a doozy. We rang in the month with pukers, and rang it out with more of the same. That’s parenting, right? Don’t plan anything in the months between Christmas and Easter…
This round of sickness hit our house on Thursday morning. I’ll spare you the dirtiest of details, but let me just tell you that we’ve gone through a 12-pack of toilet paper in three days, and at the end of the day yesterday, there were nine pairs of underwear soaking in the sink. I broke out the dusty jug of Clorox, and if you know me, you know it takes a public health crisis for me to reach for the bleach.