Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Living with a target on your back

[bump - See below for why this blast from the past is being reposted.]

By Diane Silver

You wake up in the morning, rushed as always and get your 10-year-old son out of the door to school. He's fed, on time and even has his math homework stuffed in his backpack, all of which is a miracle of sorts. After he has gone, you pull on your winter coat and gloves and hope the car will start in this blasted cold. When you finally get to work, the phone calls and the meetings are a relief. You've been a single parent since breast cancer killed your life partner three years ago, and the challenges you face at the office are nothing compared to the challenges you see at home

Or perhaps...

You're late. You had promised you would be at the hospital a half an hour ago, and even though 30 minutes doesn't sound like much, you regret every instant you aren't with her. But the bills are piling up now that you're down to one income, and you had to work late. Your son needed attention before you took him to a play date. When you dropped him off, you had thank the mother and father of your son's friend. You had to update them on your lover's condition, pretending all the time that you don't feel the razors cutting into you heart as you speak.

Or perhaps...

You're alone. Your son is in college now. You just gave him a toolbox for his birthday so he could fix up his rented house. He comes by once a week for dinner. (Got to make certain he has those necessary fruits and vegetables). You hear about books and classes, papers and finals, new ideas, frustrations and hopes. He is funny and caring. He even saves his money. You wonder in amazement if you did something right as a parent, after all.

And you wake one morning and pick up the newspaper...

Or you turn on the radio...

Someone who has never met you says he knows you. He says the fact that you exist, that your son exists, your late life partner existed is so vile, so threatening that he is coming after you.

He has to make certain that the son you love, the partner for whom you sacrificed could never, ever be called a family. He has to guarantee that the legal and financial benefits given to other families are kept from yours.

He gets what he wants. His ideas are written into the Kansas Constitution. Your family is so horrifying, it seems, that protection from it must be burned into our most basic law.

And you tell yourself to take a deep breath. You tell yourself it's OK; you'll survive. Your people have always gotten by, living in the cracks of society, if necessary.

And then you pick up the newspaper...
Or you turn on the radio...

And this man who was not with you when you sat up all night holding your infant son when he was sick ... and you held your life partner's hand as she was dying ... this man says he's coming after you again.

It's the children he wants now, or maybe your job, or your friend's job. The problem you see is that you aren't doing exactly what he wants you to do, you're not working in the job he wants you to have.

You wonder what it will take to make this man feel whole, to make him feel safe.

Will he have to harass your son for no other reason than the fact that he was born into your family?

Will this man have to orphan children?

Take away jobs?

Will it satisfy him if you, your mortgage, your overworked exhaustion, your skills, your talents, your love and your friends are finally run out of this state?

And you wonder what you will lose next.

And you wonder when it will end.

*Why repost this? Alas, it hasn't come even close to becoming out of date, even though it was first posted in December. Also, In This Moment's intrepid staff is tied up today on other projects and wanted to still provide some thoughts for you all to chew on.

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