This time last year, my husband (M.) had a good job. We were making good money - nothing extravagant, but enough to not just scrape by, enough to actually provide some small comforts to our family, to be able to give to others. We had medical insurance. The co-pays were off the wall, but we had it. This time last year, I could go to the grocery store and buy the things that were good for me, for us, without wondering if we would have enough to make it through the month. This time last year, I could buy my son a new pair of shoes when he grew out of the old ones, without worrying how. This time last year I could go on a date with my M., or take my kids to the movies, or the zoo, or fill a prescription at the pharmacy. This time last year, I could buy lunch for someone who couldn't buy lunch for themselves, or buy groceries for a family in need. This time last year, (or a few months earlier) I could organize a drive with a dear friend for the survivors of the Moore Tornadoes and get them the items they needed. This time last year.
I know I've said this before, but I can't help but come back to it; it all can change so quickly.
I started an update over 2 weeks ago. I wrote. I tried to make sense of it. I wrote some more, and tried to make sense of that too. I've spent the better part of the past month in bed. I've been sick. I have had too many bad days; days where it's all I can do just to make it to the next one and hope that it will be better. My family, they are okay, they are doing well. They are healthy and making it through. It's not easy, but they are so damn brave. I am so proud of them. I should also be proud of myself. I am not a separate entity, we are surviving this together, somehow pushing through, so eternally grateful for the miraculous love and support of each other and a truly amazing community. But, I worry about the burden I am, and then I can't even begin to know what to write next. How do I come to terms with that? It's a constant thing.
So time keeps ticking, and I know my in-boxes are full. I know my phone is off and people are worried. I know. But when it takes so much out of you to just make it to the next step, to keep moving; when you are in a perpetual state of overwhelmed, even something so seemingly simple, is so not. And we have experienced this stormy season for so long now, I don't even know what to do or how to do it; what to say or how to say it. I do the thing where I stay silent until I can't any longer, until we are on the brink of falling, and then I have to say something, not because it's me, not because I need help (even though I do), but because it's my family, because my family needs help, because these three humans mean more to me than anything in this life or the next, because my children are my hearts beating outside of my body, because I have to say something for them. It's not noble, or brave, or courageous, it is a mother's deep and wild desperation.
The first thing I want to say about where we're at, is this: Thank you. Thank you to those of you who have really and truly stepped up and helped us not fall through the cracks in so many important and neccesary ways. You have saved us, time and time again these past months. And that is no exaggeration Words won't ever be enough or do any kind of justice to the huge and magnificent gratitude we feel daily. I am thankful every single moment.
The second thing I want to offer is this: transparency. We DO have a plan. We are not wandering around in the dark without direction. We DO know where we are going. We are just having a really hard time getting there right now. And we really need to get there. The top two reasons we chose Texas (back in May when our backs were up against yet another wall) is the cost of living and so M. could go back to school. He is currently attending a top notch aviation academy and has eighteen months left. When he graduates, he will be licensed to work on planes in every state in the country and overseas, among other things. The job openings in this career field are plentiful. Completing his education means a new life for us. It means opportunity. It means stability. It means good health benefits.
And I explain all this, not because I feel I owe anyone an explanation about our life's plan, but because as a recipient of some extraordinary measures of generosity from this community, that have literally (yes, literally) saved us and kept us afloat, I feel that the least I can do is talk to you a little bit about what it is we are doing, and are trying to accomplish, so you can truly know and understand that none of this, none of the love or support or monetary assistance, is in vain, or taken for granted, in any shape or form. Those of you who have shown up, have done so in such effortless love and ease, have been so beautifully kind and reassuring, and have never ever made me feel like I had to give you any explanation at all, but that's all the more reason I need and want to. It is important to me, that you understand that, and so transparency, is no issue for me. Transparency is the least I can offer, a way of saying, here, these amazing and wonderful things you are doing are truly helping a family survive and make it one step closer to a better life.
So the plan is a good plan. But, we're still in rough waters. M. got a part time job, but the job does not pay a living wage; however, the job does work with his school schedule so he can attend his classes. These are the ups and the downs. Still, something really has to give. Because of the current state of my health, I cannot work outside of the home, and this is a challenge that hurts all of us. Back home in Northern California, I had spent years cultivating a creative and professional network/community where band gigs and teaching workshops could supplement our income. Here in Texas, not only do I not have that, but I also am much more burdened by said health issues. I can go out and do occasional things if I have access, but the majority of what work I do, needs to be at home, in an environment where I can control the pace of things. I have done plenty of editing work for others, for all kinds of various projects. I also write bios. My vocal services are still available as well, whether for voicework, or lessons, in person locally, or via skype.
Furthermore, we have indeed applied for every kind of assistance that we are eligible for. I am still waiting to be approved for medicaid, among other things. There is an issue with public assistance, in that, in order to receive it, a person must be employed or actively seeking (conventional) employment by spending a certain amount of hours at a local employment office, and if they are not, they must have a medical exemption from a doctor. My health issues would exempt me, and have in the past when I have previously applied for state medical coverage, but I cannot acquire any such exemption until I actually have medicaid and can see a doctor. I have not seen a regular doctor since February of this year.
My body is not in a good place. I am scared to say it, but not saying it, doesn't make it any less true. I am in so much pain and so tired all the time. I don't know if this particular flare is related to the traveling I did, or just because, but whatever it is, it is presenting in a lot of new and disturbing ways, in addition to the familiar. I do not like to dwell on any of this, but, it is a thing that is just as real as the love and gratitude I feel. And I have to be able to talk about this too. I have spent the past few weeks fussing at M. about trying to get legal paperwork in order in case something should happen to me, or God forbid us. I fear my children being left unmothered. It is the biggest reason I fight so hard.
I don't really know what else to say, after all of that. this is the umpteenth time I've tried to write an update, and it never gets finished because somewhere in the process of writing, I run out of steam, and I just don't know how to conclude everything. So, forgive me if this ends abruptly, but, if I don't post again for fear of this update being incomplete, then you may never hear from me. These are not ideal circumstances, but I'm still grateful about a lot. I am grateful to have wifi in order to update at all. I am grateful to have safe and insulated housing. I am grateful to have food. I am grateful my children are clothed. I am grateful for love. I am grateful for the people who have stepped in and provided a net of the most unexpected and beautiful hands that have pressed against us in the most loving and necessary ways during these hard and terrifying times.
So yes, please continue to send better job leads our way. Please continue to send work-from-home leads our way. Please continue to circulate my market page link and support by purchasing my music and poetry, or donating, if you can. Please continue to send your love and care in the form of love notes and such. Please continue to send suggestions that you feel would be sincerely helpful. I am here. I am listening. I am receiving. I am so appreciative. WE are so damn appreciative. And despite everything, despite all that has been thrown at us, tried to derail us, slow us down, get in our way, we are still here. We are still living. We are still making a way where it seems there is none. And I hold on tight to the belief that something truly better is out there for us, and it IS coming to fruition.
P.S. Yes, our phone service is still off, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. We do have an emergency number that is attached to a small prepaid phone, but we are not giving the number out, as it really is strictly for emergencies (for the kids schools to contact us/trying to get this medicaid stuff worked out), and I cannot afford to have the minutes used up on anything but. Please understand that, this is a choice of necessity. Those who have iphones can still contact me via imessage and/or facetime because as I said, I do have wifi. Other than that, regular email continues to be the best and most efficient way of contacting me. If your message is urgent, please label it so. I have a certain number of spoons in a day, and so I am slow to correspond at times, but if I know it is time sensitive, I will respond accordingly. Also, I can do skype dates when I'm feeling up to it.
Also, last, but certainly not even close to least, to my friends, my loves: You bright beautiful beings. Know I am always here for you. No matter what. None of this changes that.
Until next time,
EDIT: I have been approached more than once by more than one friend about the idea of putting together a second fundraiser via a crowdsourcing site (the first was put together in January/February of this year by two dear friends, and while it did not meet its goal, was incredibly helpful), but I haven't been able to process this possibility for a number of reasons, my current physical, mental, and emotional state not being the least of them. Perhaps more on this and everything else at a later time. I need to rest now. Love, SMS