I have never cried like this over the loss of a woman I didn’t get to meet.
Three things, with my heart aching. (This can’t be!)
1. I had emailed Harriet the 23rd of May asking for her opinion of a trend I’d noticed, of disability/gimps/crips in the media-everywhere lately. A ‘Disability Zeitgeist’ so to speak, I was going to present on this in a conference. She replied in a typical, eye and mind opening way:
I actually give quite a lot of credit to two people who continued with
very responsible jobs with Parkinson’s: first, Janet Reno, then, Pope John
Both of the strong and controversial characters were in positions to decide
for themselves to continue working. Once they made that decision, they had
a host of formal structural supporters in line to validate it. It was the
first time I could remember reasonable discussions about the expected
course of the disease, what functions are limited and which are not, and
the nature of the job in question. The case of the Pope was particularly
dramatic because the whole world was privy to the ultimate decline all the
way to death and was made to realize that an extraordinarily impaired
person could remain active.
Presumably, these high-profile individuals made their decisions with advice
from various professionals who have internalized what the movement teaches
about accommodation and adaptation. The discussion has changed because the
world has changed.
There’s a great deal more to say, but maybe the above can be food for
2. We die way too soon. We = you know who.
Us folks with bodies that can be goddamned landmines and tropical, juicy forests of experience.
3. Harriet was the only writer in our movement I could change the minds of others with on Schiavo. On Singer. I would forward her Salon & NYTimes articles to hard-ass investigative reporter friends who are published in the Nation and on Democracy Now!-and they’d read her, and reply, “Wow, I see what you mean.”
She was the absolute best.
I can’t do any broad, humanistic gestures tonight. A woman I loved, yet never met is gone and she taught me so much. So much.
Thank you Harriet–sister–compadre
From Remembering Harriet, 2008/06/04 at 11:12 PM