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"Social issues" was the turn of phrase that
the advocate that we needed to hire on to help
get past the dumpster fire of Kaiser Medical
used to refer to the thunderstorm of challenges
that she faced. This was because, substantively,
Mom "presented" or passed as a normal person:
delighted in jokes, made friends naturally, was
eternally present with you. The way that she
lit up, called your name, smiled joyfully
whenever we would visit her, light even during the
worst of circumstances, still sticks in my mind.
But everybody, even her family, was in the dark.
The body is ultimately a thing, and the brain
is also a thing, all but unknowable in complexity,
and people, as my father said once, are always
something of a mystery. I'm not sure how much
I subscribe to that, but what I do know is that
it is important to let other people choose
their own paths through the ice and wilderness;
Everybody gets the light only they are given.
My hiatal hernia still acts up now and then
and it makes the normal act of breathing feel
like a cardiac event, and so once I went to
the ER in San Francisco at one AM, concerned,
but it was a false alarm after all, and it probably
was not helpful to that situation that I had
smoked a lot of medical weed that same evening.
One lesson that I pulled from that excursion
was that people, even doctors, will help you
as much as they are humanly able, while the body
has its own designs. We argued with real fire
with the people who wanted Mom to leave
the hospital that March, pained to explain her
delicate situation to them, but they insisted.

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