beyond the green: collective of middlebury voices

a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications

ignore the pain

by anonymous

I could hear the tone of his voice change as I disclosed that piece of information that I always hold on to so closely:

“So they are illegal,” the healthcare.gov representative said.

“Yes, they are undocumented.” I responded.

“Well, they are illegals, so they cannot get health insurance.”

I was not asking about government assistance. Rather, I was asking for guidance to navigate the system to get private health insurance for my family, more specifically my parents who happen to be undocumented. I explained that we were not seeking for government benefits, but he still insisted that they could not have access to insurance even in the private sector. He proceeded to let me know that, if I tried to get insurance independently of healthcare.gov, I would probably fail because companies would send me right back to their website, which was exactly what had happened.

When the Affordable Care Act passed, I was very excited because I thought that for once in my life my family was going to be able to have health insurance, but I quickly realized that we simply could not afford it.

However, my mother recently got injured in an accident, and had to be hospitalized. I began to do research because I knew we were going to need to somehow get insurance. Fortunately, she received the medical care she needed despite our lack of insurance and her injuries were healing very well. Even though we were going to struggle extremely hard to pay for her medical care, we thought we could make it work somehow.

After missing school to support my family through this crisis, I came back to school thinking that everything would work out. However, I was incredibly wrong.

*********

“She has a small tumor in her brain,” my dad said in a breaking voice as I spoke to him earlier this week.

I closed my eyes and opened them hoping it was nothing but a bad dream, a nightmare, a joke, anything, but reality.

“The social worker came earlier and said that since our arrival last night we have accumulated a bill of $9,000. She keeps saying we have to pay a $5,000 deposit, but I only have like $100. ”

I could feel the blood boiling in my body. I could feel the tears coming, tears of anger, tears of frustration, but I had to calm myself down because I must be strong for my dad, for my mom.

“Do not worry. I will work something out,” I said with as much confidence as I could, trying to reassure him that I could, in fact, come up with a solution even if deep inside I had no idea how. I still do not know how, but I must figure it out. It is all on me, and I can feel the heavy weight on my shoulders, wearing me down.

*********

The sun is almost out. I am now more than 400 pages, 4 essays, and 1 exam behind in my classes. I try to read, to write, to speak, to move, but I cannot. I cannot focus.

How will we pay the bills? Will we lose all we have? Will we lose her?

I have been putting in 20 hours of work at my multiple campus jobs, but still it is not enough. My to do list is endless. My sleepless nights are countless, but that is every college student’s life, right? But everyone has struggles, right? So I should stop complaining, right?

There’s not time for sadness. There’s no room for failure. I must not fail. I must do well because I must prove them wrong so they cannot say:

“See. We knew she would fail. Affirmative Action brings these underperforming kids to elite schools only to fail.”

I must prove them wrong because I know I am bright. I must show them that just because I am brown it does not mean I am dumb. I keep pushing.

Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain.

Work. Work. Work.

Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain.

Be strong. Be strong. Be strong.

Work. Work. Work.  

I try. I push forward, yet I feel the weight. I feel pain, worry, anger, frustration.

How will we pay the bills? Will we lose all we have? Will we lose her?

*********

I do not resent my life because my experiences have made me the woman I am today, but sometimes it all becomes too much to bear. Sometimes the cut is deep, yet I still have to keep going, even as I am drowning in blood.

I feel so tired, so exhausted.

I want to have the luxury of being sad. I want the luxury of being weak, of crying, of failing, of not having to be an adult.

I want the luxury of being a regular college student who must worry about nothing else than her 400 pages of reading, 4 essays, and exam.

I want the luxury of life, of human life.

I want the luxury of living in a society that values my mother’s health, my mother’s life. I wish I lived in a place where she was a human and not a statistic.

I read the theories in my classes, and hear people throwing the statistics in the air as they do cost benefit analysis. And I often want to shake them and scream in their face: “DO YOU REALIZE THESE STATISTICS REPRESENT ACTUAL PEOPLE!!!”

Yes, maybe less than .00015% of people in the US die due to lack of health insurance. That is about 45,000 people per year. THAT IS 45,000 LIVES.

Stop throwing the statistics, the ignorance, the heartlessness in my face.

Stop with the assumptions.

No, my parents are not lazy. No, they do not choose to be poor. Yes, they do their taxes. Yes, they pay property taxes too. Yes, they work hard and long hours, yet only make $50,000 a year together. However, no, they do not get government benefits.

I feel angry. I feel frustrated. I feel absolutely broken, completely shattered. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders; my mother’s health in my hands, which are tied because I cannot do anything.

But it’s already 6:30am, and the sun is almost out. I have class in 3 hours. I still have endless work to do, so I tell myself once again:

Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain.

Work. Work. Work.

Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain. Ignore the pain.

Be strong. Be strong. Be strong.

Work. Work. Work.  

As I continue to push myself to go on, to move, to eat, to walk, to work, to smile, I can feel the pain, the worry, the anger, the frustration, eating my soul away. And I wish it were different.

But all I can do is close my eyes for a second and dream that I live in a society, in a world, that values my mother’s health and life; a society, in which she is not a statistic, a criminal, an “illegal,” but a human being.

http://www.pnhp.org/excessdeaths/health-insurance-and-mortality-in-US-adults.pdf

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This entry was posted on April 16, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged .
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