Triage

Woke in a tangle of sheets in darkness this morning, light blipping from my cell phone. My husband on the other end, from New York where he’s currently working as a consultant, letting me know he was worried about me. Wanted to hear my voice.

My head throbbed from a night of sobbing, but talking to Tim was my only hope for relief. We hustled a call in between his work tasks, and established a time to talk again later. We have much to discuss, as the election will bring tectonic changes to our daily life.

It’s likely that his current assignment, which was slated to last until next June, will end abruptly in the next two months; he’s a programmer for a large health insurance company, and with the promised gutting of Obamacare, we expect his job and millions of others will be eliminated. The generous salary he’s been enjoying will end, as will prospects for further employment in the industry, since health insurance will be thrown into chaos as soon as the GOP have taken their knives to it.

We were about to sign up for health insurance ourselves, having been dropped from his employer’s plan in February, but unable to afford signing up while he was unemployed, and then having missed the open enrollment period earlier this year. November 1 represented our first opportunity, but it looks like if we do get insurance, it will only be for a short window. Too bad, because one of us needs surgery soon, and we were planning to do it in the spring of 2017. Now we don’t know what’s going to happen.

Our daughter, as you know, has a physical disability and is currently in her last year of college. She’s projected to graduate December 2017, but that is in question as well, because her living expenses, currently supported in part by state-funded disability services, will most likely be cut, making it impossible for her to continue living at the university. Her college funding, currently coming from Tim and me, is likely to dry up as well, and any additional funds from the government are unlikely, given the GOP stance on federal funding of college educations. It’s possible she’ll squeak through before they enact massive changes, but it’s something we have to consider.

I hope we can bring her to live with us.

We currently live in a lovely apartment overlooking the wide valley between the Coast Range and the Tualatin Range. Our plans have long been to move in spring of 2017 to a smaller, less pricey space, and now we’ll have to move that date up significantly, given that Tim’s likely to be out of work sometime in January. We had already planned to look for a place that could accommodate our daughter’s wheelchair, so we have to be picky when looking for housing. It has to take a dog and have no staircase. Anybody know of a place like that for rent in or near PDX?

I have no idea how my job at the city of Portland will be affected, but I suspect it won’t be expanded any time soon, in light of the tenuous outlook on government funding. It is, after all, an arts program, and I have little hope that it will continue to enjoy robust support. My other, part-time job may continue, but I was hoping to shed that ultra-conservative, internal-politics-heavy, nauseating environment this year. But we’ll need the money, so if it’s on offer, I’ll probably accept. Maybe it won’t even be offered. That would be fun.

Amongst these quotidian concerns, I fear for the safety of my children; my dark-skinned son and my physically disabled (though light skinned, so at least she’s got that going for her!) daughter are now targets of the hatred revealed by the presidential campaign. I can only hope that the fact that they live in a liberal area will help protect them. My daughter, tiny and fragile, worries me the most. What if someone decided to take a swing at her because he feels it’s okay now? What if they decide to push her over in her wheelchair because there’s no sense anymore that that would be wrong?

I’m trembling just thinking of it.

This election has weighed on me heavily for months; now the worst outcome has occurred, and I see people talking about “what went wrong”, but all I can think about is “how do we get through this alive?” How do we manage these very real concerns for our daily life? How do we avoid the danger that we face now that the electoral college decided this evil was okay by them?

My children. MY children are at risk. My friends, my loved ones. This isn’t philosophical. This isn’t abstract. This is real.

I’m not ready to make nice with the people who voted for him, or voted against her, who was our only hope of avoiding him. I’m not ready for that. My family needs triage.

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