QUESTIONS OF LEGACIES HAUNT
I won’t go into detail here, but on June 17th, after we were exhausted from the first Open House (we weren’t there, but we had to get the house into tiptop form), we heard of the sad death of a young woman we had hoped would turn her life around. And the fact that she didn’t or couldn’t has haunted me for the time since.
I ask myself whether I could have done anything, and the real answer is no. Which doesn’t keep me from being sad.
And it is a useless question in a particular case, because it is so final to not be here any more.
Questions of privilege
I will never find out the details, nor does it matter that I do, not even to me. But it made me think about the privilege of being me, even as a woman who has been ill for 28+ years with a still-unknown-etiology disease. The resources I have are not useful to me – but are available to help with symptoms.
But I grew up in a two-parent family, with an education available to me, even to the PhD level. My childhood was no more mildly traumatic than any other – no child gets whatever she really wants or needs, and it wouldn’t be good for her little developing character if she did.
I was surrounded by love, and had extracurriculars such as Girl Guides and piano lessons. I have never been hungry because of the unavailability of food. I have always had medical and dental care. My problems in life are minor and common (other than the omnipresent CFS, and that didn’t happen until I was 40ish).
I have an addictive personality, so I’ve always avoided most alcohol, and all recreational drugs (Note: may be taking medical marijuana in the future for pain; makes me chuckle). Mostly, I don’t like the stupid feeling that comes with stimulants and such, and it’s that feeling that I’m avoiding. I did my small share of experimenting once or twice back in college, found that I hated the sensation in my gut and head, and didn’t repeat. No particular virtue there.
What if you have problems – and NO resources?
What if you have resources you can’t get to? Or they are expensive somehow? Or you perceive them as losing face so severely you reserve them for a ‘last resort’ – and never feel it is last resort time? We all try to protect our futures, and people may not get help because they know how bad it might look later on a resume.
I knew I was privileged – and thought I had earned it. I worked very hard in grad school, never took stupid chances (okay, once or twice). I thought you earned privilege by behaving correctly after you got it. Not messing up. But even as I was not messing up, I was surrounded by a safety net of people and institutions I didn’t want to disappoint – how much of ‘doing the right thing’ is simply that small deviations from the norm are immediately corrected?
My sisters and I always agreed we had the best parents around (by comparison with some of our friends’ parents). No, they weren’t perfect – no parents are – but we won the lottery there, and didn’t realize it.
I did my part, but everything went my way. There was always a path.
I have never been poor or homeless or infected with AIDS or Ebola or TB. I never had an abusive boyfriend. I’ve always had ‘people’ – lots of people. The few times I’ve sought counseling for something, I usually found someone reasonably competent, on my schedule, quickly enough. And it more or less worked, until I’d solved whatever it was, and returned to functionality.
I have, since birth, been solidly middle class.
Oh, and look ‘white’ enough (I am proud of my Mexican heritage – which I didn’t choose or earn, but it doesn’t ‘show’) so no one pays any attention.
Like a nice liberal Catholic, I want everyone to have the basics I take for granted. And that’s nowhere near what happens.
The ‘liberal’ part knows that, if there were no corruption and greed (ha!), there would be a lot more money for needed services.
Well, this administration has brought so many inequalities to light, it is hard to know where to start. Along with compelling pictures of rampant privilege, nepotism, greed, and the Gospel of Prosperity.
But I’ve spent the past couple of weeks wondering what I would have done in the same situation, and whether there is anything (other than voting the right people into office) I can do now. Other than comforting and supporting the living, where possible.
It isn’t enough for me to confront my prejudices and correct them when they’re wrong. And I don’t know what I can do, what with being sick and mostly house-bound. I’ve always known this – and never done anything about it except in trying to behave right in my personal life. Within reason.
The legacy part?
I’ve had the privilege of thinking about my writing, and the books I want to leave behind me. I have the legacy of my family and my children. I hope to be remembered for a while by friends.
And I have promised myself never to forget her. She had both potential and problems, and overcame many things, with much more limited resources than I. Just not all.
Pray for her, and her family and friends. And for the rest of us.
Hard to blog when real life happens.
And it isn’t a request for sympathy for me. Just that you think.