Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Onward We Will Go
Sitting at my laptop, I don't know what to write. A large part of me wants to write about Dr. Tiller, about the many vigils held across the country yesterday (and in Canada, too). Another part of me doesn't want to write anything, because I just want to go numb and pretend none of this happened. Pretend Dr. Tiller wasn't murdered. Pretend we don't live in a country where just because we are pro-choice, we have to be afraid for our lives. That we have to defend, to fight for our beliefs - often in isolation - and perhaps even die for them. I am angry and sad and sickened and I don't want to feel any of those feelings. I just want to go back to Saturday. Before Dr. Tiller was murdered.
Actually, no. I don't want to go back to Saturday. I want to go back much further than that. To a time where violence and threats and hypocrisy and death and blood and screaming and bombs didn't explode, just because abortions are performed. I don't even want to google 'abortion before violence' or something similar to find the timeline, the year in which it all changed. I think it was Brookline. I don't know. The year it all changed doesn't matter to me; but I know I want to go back before that time.
I keep remembering how it was when my clinic had 24hr US Marshal protection, approved personally by Janet Reno, because we were under such threats. Bomb threat after bomb threat after bomb threat. Ring, ring, ring went the phone. It didn't seem to ever stop. If a woman actually made it through on the phone line to make an appointment, it was anti-climactic. I worry I might've even sounded apathetic towards her, because my entire body was clenched, tightened, ready to fight, and ready - as much as possible - to hear the man call me bitch, whore, murderer, bitchwhoremurdererbabykiller over and over and over. I'd grind my teeth, we'd tap our feet, wring our sweaty hands, get massive headaches, function off adrenaline. Our hearts racing, pounding. Faces scowling. Anger and fear. Assholes!!! What they did to each of us. Some of us quit! FBI interviewing us, tapping phones, recording conversations. Hours of intrusions. US Marshalls giving us anti-terrorist methodology, creating evacuation routes, bullet-proof glass and walls. Video cameras. Suspicion. Those assholes!! Not parking my car at work. Being told to register our plates to a PO Box or the clinic so that we couldn't get traced to our homes. Being followed. Being video taped.
It's all wrong. It's wrong. It's so, so wrong! Why do WE have to go through this shit to protect women's lives? And meanwhile, we get quieter and quieter. Worried we'll make others uncomfortable. Worried we'll ruin friendships, relationships, taint future job prospects, strain families and community bonds. Forget the seemingly benign everyday relationships, like with your bank, your doctor, the place you always buy your coffee, the childcare worker at your son's daycare. They always end up asking you where you work. What the fuck do you say? How the hell do you answer that when you've got US Marshals parked outside your building and you've been told all day long you're going to be in a trillion million little pieces because there's a bomb waiting for you. Who can you trust?
And who can you talk to about all this? Your mother? Your brother? Your partner? "How was your day?" Such an innocent question; but you can't answer. You can't tell them. How the hell do you tell your mother, who is already against abortion and thinks you're wrong, that you've been called bitchwhoremurdererbabykiller all day long and you've been interviewed by the FBI and you can't leave your car at the office and you're learning alternative routes home and you've got the US Marshal's cell phone numbers in your pocket and you're scared shitless and you don't know what to do; but you KNOW you have to get up and go to work tomorrow because the women need you. THEY NEED US! And we can't give up and we can't back down and we can't shut our doors and we cannot let them win!
And Dr. Tiller dies. Murdered. And yet we're peaceful. And show love. And don't want to hurt others. We just want to do our jobs. We just want to save women's lives. We just want to be there for them and show compassion. And to TRUST them to make decisions for themselves. Trust that they know what's best for them. It honestly doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out.
And I can't let this go. I can't let this work go. I've tried. I've tried to stop doing this work. But I cannot. I cannot. It is in every fiber of my being. It hits me to my core. It's part of who I am. And, so I walk to a candlelight vigil, searching for a familiar face. No one. But it's quiet and beautiful and sad. I hear a man singing. His guitar gently strumming, aching. The song? 'How to Save a Life.' I cry. And a non-familiar face smiles, tears in her eyes, and helps me light a candle. I'm not alone. We're not alone. We must go on. We must go on.