Sunday, August 6, 2017

In Which I Realize How Much Liberals & Conservatives Have In Common

Have you ever noticed how... 

Liberal talking points on Legal Abortion are strikingly similar to conservative talking points on Illegal Immigration

1. It's the law of the land. 

2. It's our patriotic obligation to follow the law. 

3. Extenuating and peripheral situations don't matter. This is the law, no matter what. 

4. The vulnerable have no rights; this is about honoring the rights of those who were here first.

5. The law has already been established. It doesn't need to change; if anything, it needs to be enforced to the greatest extent possible. 

6. Local governments cannot be trusted to make the right decision on this. It should be a national issue. 


Conservative talking points on Legal Abortion are right in line with liberal talking points on Illegal Immigration

1. The law is unjust. We're accountable to a higher law. 

2. Our laws should reflect compassion for the vulnerable. 

3. This is a human rights issue. 

4. We must protect and prioritize the nuclear family. 

5. We must recognize the dignity of every person. 

6. We will organize grass roots community efforts to support those most hurt by this unjust law. We don't understand why political opponents demonize our efforts. 

7. Local municipalities and states should have the freedom to determine how best to address this issue.

Well that should upset everyone equally. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Charlie Gard

I can't figure out why this Charlie Gard case is such a trigger issue for me. I seem to be just as upset as everyone else, but it's not over any of the proper talking points.

1. I'm supposed to be upset that the government is making decisions for a baby's care.

2. I'm supposed to be upset that socialist healthcare has decided he's no longer worth keeping alive, and so he must die.

3. I'm supposed to be upset that his parents' wishes are different than the state's wishes, but their evil single-payer system is essentially one giant uncompromising death panel.

4. I'm supposed to be upset because his parents raised the money themselves to pay for alternative care, and were still turned down!

But mostly, I'm upset because everyone who seems most upset about these talking points doesn't seem to realize that this stuff is every day normal healthcare in America -- except for the part about it happening to someone with money.

1. We believe parents should have the final say in their children's healthcare, no matter what -- except for the parents with whom we disagree. We legislate waiting periods and mandatory sonograms before abortions, no therapeutic euthanasia, free sterilization following Medicaid pregnancies, because it's our community responsibility to choose in the best interests of a child, when we deem their parents too morally compromised to make an acceptable decision. (Our united moral front is less united on whether parents should be given the final say to refuse blood transfusions, chemo, scoliosis screenings, vision and hearing tests, or vaccinations, on behalf of their children. All this to illustrate, our stance on uncompromising parental rights is a little more gray than we like to admit.)

2. We use our capitalistic healthcare to decide who's worth saving just as much as countries with socialist healthcare. It's a simple equation: if you don't have money, you're not worth saving. (Don't blame us. You did this to yourself. Get a better job. Get better health insurance. Don't get sick. It's not hard.)

3. We have death panels in our country. They're not run by the government; they're run by for-profit health insurance companies who shamelessly lobby the government and ultimately decide who receives healthcare and how much they receive. They're run by a system wherein it's impossible to schedule an appointment with a specialist or a procedure at an outpatient surgery center without full cash payment up-front. They're run by a system that might get you charity care for a doctor, if you're well-connected, might get you charity care for a surgery, but can't seem to do a thing about affordable prescriptions.

4. We truly cannot fathom a healthcare system that doesn't work in the favor of the wealthy. If all else fails in our list of travesties in the Charlie Gard case, we are irate that regardless of ethical concerns, health outcomes, or parental right issues, they have the money. If a for-profit air ambulance company wants to take a million dollars cash to transport a live cadaver across the ocean, then why not? If a grant-starved researcher can get some extra cash with empty promises for desperate parents, then why the heck not? How dare our Church mention words like "extraordinary care," "natural death," or "dignity." This impostor pope is obviously in favor of euthanasia.

So yes, I'm upset that poor Charlie is not allowed to die peacefully in his parents' arms, on their timeline, at their home, or at the hospital, or en route to America, with or without whatever treatments they decide are right for him.

But what really saddens me is how many people express such horror that this situation could even occur in a civilized country, without recognizing it happens all the time here in the U.S.

We're saying that we're scandalized because someone couldn't get access to possible life-saving healthcare, but it seems like we're more shocked and upset that it happened to people with money. Because that is definitely not how we do healthcare in America.

Saturday, June 24, 2017


My vision is all hazy and cloudy from salt deposits on my contacts. Life has kept going, but these tears won't stop.

I scroll through her Facebook page to remember. Just a week earlier, she posted that she's praying for us.

Man, did Holly ever pray for us.

She prayed when I went into labor at 28 weeks, and she said, "It's okay. They're not coming until September." The doctor laughed at her. But those twins were born on September 24.
Holly, praying over her godson on September 25
She prayed when Wally needed a more stable job. And the next month we were selling our house and moving to Houston for his new job. She jokes that she didn't pray specifically enough and meant to keep us in town. But Houston's been good for us.

She prayed when I was stuck at the ER with our baby and no answers. Minutes after her reply text that she was praying, the doctor came in and started a whole new course of action that got us back home that evening.

When we had twin newborns, a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, she showed up to Mass every single week to help. She would hold her godson, rocking him in the pew, often pacing the narthex or the back aisle when he grew fussy. He would eventually lean his face into hers, and fall asleep, a funny and endearing pose, repeated week after week.
Holly at Jonathan's Baptism
When we moved to Conroe and added another baby, we didn't go to Mass together as a family for a whole year, except when Miss Holly was visiting. Otherwise Sundays were a patchwork of separate services with the older kids, while one of us stayed home with all the little ones.
Twin 1-year-olds, a newborn, a 4-year-old, and a 6-year-old; Miss Holly holding her silly godson.
I'm not sure why we thought the front row balcony would be a good spot.
She took the one decent family photo we have of all of us. None of us look like this anymore, but we can't seem to gather in one place, in simultaneous good moods, with a camera present.

She was always texting encouraging articles or checking in to see how things were going. She knew when things weren't going well.

The first thing that moved into our new house was a framed photo of our family motto, made by Holly.

"Pray, Hope, and Don't Worry" on an empty mantle in an empty house

She did countless other small and big things that I would only underestimate if I tried to enumerate them.

Our oldest son had a dream as a preschooler that Miss Holly "walked him up the steps when he became a priest." He currently wants to be a math teacher, but I can't let go of that phrase. Holly's supposed to walk him up the steps.

Holly with our oldest son, Joseph
We're supposed to meet for coffee when I'm in town in July.

We're supposed to take all the kids and go visit Father Joe for Mass at his new parish.

Here's Miss Holly coaching Jonathan to say "Father Joe." She had taken him out for ice cream and library time, and it was probably the best day of his 2-year-old life. 

She's supposed to take her godson out on "Adventures with Miss Holly" days when we visit this summer.

I keep scrolling through Facebook, seeing her love of baseball, love of Church, love for friends, love for family. I see all the places where I "liked" or laughed at her posts, and I want to change all of the emojis to sad faces. She would laugh at that, if she were here. Mourning in the era of Facebook.

I take screenshots of everything. Our funny text exchanges are now memorials.

She was there the night we found out we were pregnant with Andrew. After a riotous night of laughing with friends, holding babies, watching baseball, and catching up on [then-Deacon] Father Joe's adventures in Rome, we shared with Holly what we had only known for a couple of hours.

This photo was taken the day we found out about baby #5. Holly brought Father Joe over to visit, and it was such a fun day. They're holding their godson, Jonathan, in this photo.
Eight months later, Holly was drinking coffee next to me when my water broke at the kitchen table. I got up to call the doctor, and she reminded me to call Wally too, who was at work three hours away. As I waited on hold with the doctor's office, Holly offered to call Wally for me. I overheard her tell him that Andrew was on the way, as my mom and I walked out the door for the hospital. Andrew was born two hours later.

Holly with baby Andrew
Her Facebook feed is all about others. It's encouraging words, friendship reminders, congratulations to her sister, her parents, and a myriad of friends whose only connection to each other is a love for Holly Tripp.

When we found out she passed away, suddenly, unexpectedly, and thankfully, without suffering, our group of texting friends began a spontaneous rosary. From our homes, hundreds of miles apart, our fingers worked through familiar beads and our hearts prayed through familiar prayers, even as our minds processed this unfamiliar reality. I meant to meditate on the sorrowful mysteries, of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion, but I unintentionally, maybe intuitively, began the rosary's joyful mysteries. 

I ask Jesus to let me see her. She is gazing, supremely happy, undistracted at our Lord. She's distant though, maybe a prayer away, but no longer a text message away.

Even with tears that won't stop, my heart knows Holly is more fulfilled, more at home, more in her element than she could ever be in this world. 

But I still want her here. 

It's always a party when Holly comes over!