I'm taking the day off, not from swimming in the swamp of sickness of a loved one, where I've been since October; not from veering between anger and terror because half the people I love are on the super-high-risk list, while I'm only plain old risk.
There is no day off from the sadness and fear that has gripped me.
And the thing is I'm not even worried about myself. I survived a life-threatening infection five years ago, caused by the negligence of the doctors at the Phoenix Mayo clinic. They were more concerned with the fact that I was a high-profile litigator who could sue them than whether I lived or died. (I didn't sue. Why bother? My kids worried if I could even survive it). I listened. You have to give up control in situations like that. My dear friend Weili had a full shadow team of doctors outside Mayo because it was clear they were covering for each other and more worried about the board of trustees. I found a friend on the board, the wonderful lawyer Ron Olson. Ron called the big shots. Weili was a gift from God. She saved my life once when Mayo started getting sloppy about testing; they treated her like my dumb Chinese housemaid (she is a self-made tech billionaire), and she put up with the condescension, how they mocked her for asking hard questions the docs at Stanford had told her to ask. But even with all that, even blessed by my own angel and advocates, we all understood that peritonitis and sepsis were beyond our collective control.
Obviously, so is COVID-19. I've been beyond scrupulous because my beloved Rosie is fighting cancer and has been told she would not survive COVID. She has to go places for treatment. I stay home, and hover. I can't control the fact that Kaiser delayed two years — two years of complaints and phone appointments — before her lazy and stupid doctor got around to ordering a scan. Two years earlier, it was curable. Sorry, it's Stage 4. I could sue them. I could file charges with the state board. Sometimes, I just rant and rave. I've helped out the folks at Kaiser over the years. Mentored their kids. Spoken at their lunches. I was also grateful for their good care. Now Kaiser is only below President Donald Trump on my life-and-death enemies list.
So I swim in the swamp. I wake up at 4 a.m. and read the headlines. I see health officials being threatened; preventive measures like masks being totally politicized; and the fact that, even apart from the police racism being protested, a disproportionate number of those getting sick and dying are people of color. You don't have to go to the streets to find racism, and police brutality is hardly racism's only expression. Check out the refrigerator trucks. Follow the funerals. Recognize who is working essential minimum-wage jobs. And start counting bodies. Class, education, access to health care — it all correlates with race. So, yes, it is not a coincidence that death rates are twice as high among people of color. Do you think President Trump's favorite vigilantes, rich white shooters in Saint Louis aiming weapons at protestors, know that? Or care? Obviously, the president wasn't thinking of that when he retweeted the picture.
And so, every day, I rage at our president. It's rage like I have never felt before toward an American president. He is killing the people I love most in the world. Or, at least, he is more than willing to on account of his vanity, his narcissism, his obsession with himself and his prospects. No wonder Trump looked awkward standing with the Bible in front of the Washington, D.C., church. He might as well have been in a foreign country. The Bible's values are not his. White Power. Aim your guns. White Supremacy. Follow the threats. Protestors are thugs. Racists are heroes. Endless self-pity. Not everyone loves him, he says. Not everyone? The man's base is shrinking, and those left, beyond family bankers and Wall Street billionaires, are the most racist, hateful, backward and delusional people in America.
And it makes me so damn angry. I have been in my house for four months in the hopes of saving one life, of saving someone I love.
He is out there, the ultimate macho man, risking the lives of everyone around him to boost his reelection.
But not today. The 4th of July was my favorite holiday as a kid, not because of the bike parade, for which we all decorated our bikes with crepe paper, or the fireworks that night, when we all huddled with my father on the old, scratchy blanket and witnessed the miraculous explosions of light. Later, during difficult times, we in Boston gathered to hear the Boston Pops unite us in a free concert in the Shell. Even as a kid, I knew enough about the Holocaust to know our lives, my whole family's lives, depended solely on their ability to find their way to this great country. The first time I went to Ellis Island, I looked up my family on the computer and cried for love of country.
So no Trump this year. I'm not even going to read what he's doing and what he's saying. I think I know too much. Instead, I will celebrate the brave men and women who risked their lives to form the new country that welcomed the tired, hungry and poor immigrants, including my grandparents, from Eastern Europe.
I am not proud of my president, but I am deeply grateful for the life, liberty and happiness that America and only America allowed us to pursue.
Stay safe, my fellow Americans. Drink at home. We are better people than our president thinks.
To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay