January 05, 2010

Skipping the Mascara

She died on New Year's Eve, minutes before the clock struck twelve. The old decade would end with her, the new would begin without her.

And all the mothers, teachers, and womenfolk gathered around the family like all the king's horses and all the king's men, and as in the nursery rhyme there is no putting that family back together again. So they did the only thing they knew to do, and they cooked and baked, and had an enormous celebration after her burial.

I had a funeral director say to me once, "Never should a good person go to their final resting place without a few good words said over their body."

I shall add to that, my own corollary, "Never should a good person go to their final resting place without a celebration of their life following."

This is what her children would remember... the gathering of so many who loved their mother.

Originally there was to be nothing, and I kept texting my girlfriend, "Are you SURE there will be nothing? Please tell her mother... I will bake." And she in turn quietly persisted with the family... until there was going to be a small gathering at the home after and then suddenly a larger hall was acquistioned.

My other girlfriend, who is a teacher at the kids' school, started a phone tree and suddenly teachers were bringing food. I was cooking, baking, making a few phone calls, listening when listening was all that could be done, promising it would come together.

The Mass was lovely. We pulled our children out of class to attend, a bonus when the church and the school reside on the same property.

Mothers wept openly... weeping for many knew her as a child, grew up with her, others had daughters that were friends with the daughter of the young dead mother, whilst others cried for what could have been, but never will be and for our worst nightmare coming true before our eyes... a mother dying when her children are still young.

It is not the natural order, to die when one's parents are alive and when one's children are still... children.

This is the third parent in ten months, various forms of cancer, mothers and fathers, black and white, 30s and 40s, different neighborhoods, not even the same parts of the county, nothing common except the horror of leaving behind children. A horror so vast the rest of us are left wide eyed and terrified, trying to comprehend, and going into overdrive to help because we can't make it go away and because... hopefully someone would do the same for our families should it be one of us... next.

The ghastliness of it all creating conversations between spouses you never dreamed of having, such as, "Will you sit by my bedside should I lay dying?" "Please do not let me die alone..."

And there were two hams, two baked zitis, a lasagna, rolls, two mac 'n cheese, a huge hash brown casserole, 100 Chick fil A nuggets, taco dip with chips, brocolli casserole, potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, smokey chicken noodles, cold pasta salad, 40 turkey and cheese spiral wrap slices, fresh fruit, tuna salad, and desserts... homemade. And nearly all of it eaten, with a couple days worth of dinner left for the family.

The smartest thing my girlfriend did was spontaneously order an enormous tray of chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-A for all the kids. I'm remembering that one.

The smartest thing my other girlfriend did was suddenly wondering if one ham was enough, and spontaneously ordering two. If there is leftover ham, it will always get eaten. There wasn't much left over.

The smartest thing I did was cook two big pans of baked ziti. I was so afraid they'd be eating on it for a month. There wasn't anything left.

And odder still was standing in the kitchen with the Moms, discussing how this woman died of cervical cancer, only to hear two of them chime in that their insurance no longer covers that exam... and one person's insurance no longer covers any yearly exam for her.


I wonder how many women have to die of cervical cancer before people will be up in arms that insurance isn't carrying a basic test that could save our lives?

Posted by Boudicca at January 5, 2010 04:46 PM

I'm going to chime in on that. From a "feel good" standpoint insurance companies probably should pick up the cost of this screening. It is a proven low-tech life saver (and money saver as well, since these cancers are curable if caught early). But insurance companies are businesses, and they must make decisions that are in their financial best interest as well. Some of them must have determined that covering this test is not beneficial to their bottom line. If you run a business, how do you determine what goods and services to provide? IF we had a better ability to individually purchase insurance from whichever vendor we wanted, then we would be able to reward those companies which valued our business and catered to our needs. In fact, we probably do have this ability to some extent - if we want to purchase an additional private policy. Most of us would probably balk at the cost of that and would prefer simply to pay for the test. Truth to tell, I would like to dial back the clock to an era when people DID pay for routine care and lab work out of pocket and saved the insurance for the big stuff! It would help to hold the cost of both care and premiums down! Additionally, I would like it to be a disincentive to employers to purchase their employees' coverage. As bulk shoppers, we enjoy the benefits of discount prices, but we also are limited in choice.

Instead of griping at the insurance companies about priorities, how about if we also assume some? It's not the most expensive test in the world. Pay for it as you would any other annoying but necessary expense. It is certainly no greater financial hardship than paying for a car repair, or for a dental bill for that matter (most dental policies have a fairly low annual cap that is easily exhausted some years).

And if the dipshits in DC really wanted to make care affordable and available and personalized, they could do it in a heartbeat without ramming a goddamned new bureaucratic monstrosity down our unwilling throats. The government as an additional "competitor"? Please. They should at least credit us with being able to recognize what a load that is. Competition would increase if employers were not the primary procurers of health insurance benefits (we have the government to thank for that, actually) and a change to a tax law would work. Lose your job, lose your insurance? COBRA - why should we have to need it? What a bunch of BS! I'd be willing to pay more in premiums than we are now if it meant more money left in the paycheck along with the ability to shop around and to NOT lose insurance if you lose a job! And insurance companies would be far more compelled to listen to individual purchasers if there were more of them. Ok, I'll stop griping now. Sorry so long winded. I will understand if you decide not to post this!

Posted by: PeggyU at January 6, 2010 04:12 AM

My husband lost his job. We had COBRA until the end of December. Continuation of it was too expensive. My children and I are now without health insurance of any kind.

Scares the hell out of me, truth be told.
Cancer runs in my family. My mother recently had skin cancer, and about 30 years ago had cervical cancer. Luckily it was caught early and removed. My grandmother had colorectal cancer. Several of my aunts/uncles have one form of cancer or another.

I am about the age my mother was when her cervical cancer was found.

Yeah, scared to death I am.
Even so, I DO NOT want the crap Barry, Harry & Scary are trying to push down our throats!

And Bou- **hugs** I know how hard it is for you to see another passing.

Posted by: Rave at January 6, 2010 10:07 AM

Rave, if you hubby is unemployed he should be able to get health insurance through the state or federal government program especially for unemployed families.

I am always getting stuff in the mail about it.

And we can thank the Obama admin for insurance companies now dropping yearly pap tests.

Posted by: Quality Weenie at January 6, 2010 10:46 AM

Here in the UK, where we have *free* screening for most types of cancer, not everyone takes advantage as seen here;
Now, I am not saying our national health service is perfect, far from it, but the screening is there, and freely available and still people are "Too busy" to take advantage.

Posted by: bx19 at January 7, 2010 05:12 AM

Hugs to you Bou... And good call on the Ziti. :)

Posted by: Richmond at January 7, 2010 09:14 AM