I have a friend who I asked not to quit. I am scared for her. Things are not okay. She is at the hospital right now as I write. Something is wrong with her heart. I talked to her sister a few minutes ago. They still don’t what. It looks like it could be serious.
Many people are praying for her right now. They love her and right now that is what they can give. Many of them would give money if they had it, but most don’t. All of them wish there was an answer, an open door… something they can tell her to hang on for but there are no easy answers.
She has cancer, bad cancer and she is scared. She has no insurance and Tennessee is still trying to find a politically practical way to say there should be no qualifications, no test you have to pass to show that you matter and should not be left to die because you are poor.
Her days now are about feeling sick and feeling bad and hoping this day still gives her tomorrow and another tomorrow after that. She has been a warrior for health care reform in Tennessee. Legislators know her name. They have seen her face in the newspapers but none of them have set down and listened. None of them really care. They don’t know how scared she is.
She is one of hundreds or thousands of Tennesseans who can’t wait. They are the silent victims of the death of Insure Tennessee at the hands of a legislature that would fight to the death for political gain but then turn their head rather than fight for the dying. They are the daily reminders of the shame that 5 years from now, 10 years from now, 20 years from now will tar and indelibly stain the legacy of this terrible session. My hope is that when my grandson gets old enough to understand that things will have changed enough that he finds it hard to believe that a small group of people could be so mean and that meanness hurt so many people so bad.
My friend is a kind person. She has never known position or status. Until she got sick she worked all her life and like most of us counted it success if she could pay her bills and put food on the table.
She is a person of faith and that faith had held firm in the worst of times. Prayer is not simply something she does but part of who she is.
She is a courageous person. Way past a courageous person. I wish there had been a way for her to loan at least a little of her courage to the legislature. But she is shaken now. Really badly shaken..
Maybe at some point life for all of us is more about what we give rather than about what we get. In giving she has been so rich and blessed so many with the witness of her life. If one day no one is left behind it will be because of people like her.
I pray that doctors find answers for her. I pray that God will give her strength and help her to know that in the ways that count she has counted and in the things worth giving she has given far more than her share. Let her know Lord she is loved. And Lord let her know how grateful we are for the friend she has been.
I wish there was a campaign based on the audacity of human decency. I wish there was a campaign not based on who to exclude but on the community of all of us. I wish there was a campaign that did not define my loss as your gain or vice versa. I wish there was a campaign that did not measure cost by what we have or what we can get but by the cost of the way we live. I wish there was a campaign where love was not debated so a political possibility but accepted as a moral necessity.
My friend’s name is Tracy and I have already spoken once of her tonight and in the next days I hope you will give her and thousands of others with similar stories in Tennessee a moment of prayer, a thought, a place in your heart. Tracy never got a chance to decide whether or not she wanted to fight. It was thrust upon her. We get to choose. The odds are high that in the state of Tennessee someone you know will be affected by your choice. I hope you will choose to join the fight with those who have no choice. Your choice matters.
I hope the news for Tracy will be good tonight. Thank you for your heart, your kindness. Whether you know her or not, it matters that you care. Sometimes we all must carry others in our hearts. I wish much peace for those you carry and hope that tonight and in the days ahead you are able to find a little time, a little space for my friend Tracy.