Last Thursday: This moving to a different state thing with someone with a disability is not for the faint of heart. And today I am feeling pretty heart faint. Enough so, to let go of more of what I had planned to accomplish before leaving. Specifically, health insurance.
Explanation: Julia will qualify for a MassHealth program. Eventually. My goal has been a seamless transition—leave Forward Health, WI Medicaid, on June 30; begin MassHealth on July 1. This will not happen. (Ok, I was the most naive, cockeyed optimist ever!) And so, I am left with “eventually.” Information I’ve gleaned from various sources (all state employees or expert advisory staff) has been cripplingly conflicting. Ex: At 18, she can apply for MassHealth as a single adult. At 18, I have to apply for MassHealth and ask to have her covered as my child. (I don’t qualify for MassHealth.). Another example: In January, Health Care For All told me I could apply for Julia’s coverage when I had a lease. Last week, the same helpline said, I cannot submit any application until we were in MA. I’ve stopped sputtering my buts—‘but last time I called. . . . ,’ and ‘but the website says. . . ‘ —but I was defeated.
I am perseverating on this single issue—insurance—and missing the sweet all around me. Last evening, the Journey Group that I facilitate at FUS, gifted me with chocolates, a Madison glass and very kinds words spoken and written. The Shawl Ministry, through one of my dear friends, gifted both Julia and I with shawls. This last is very sweet because when David was recovering from his transplant, he was given a shawl that I have used in with wintertime in my bedroom for years now. Having my own shawl feels cherished.
In the last few weeks, I have been taken to dinner and lunch and tea. We have had suppers cooked for us and leftover urged on us to ease my chores. So many kind words have convinced me that I will be missed here as much as I shall miss. I have added to the lives of my friends at least some of what they had given to me. Partings, so hard have filled my soul.
Other soul fillings: Last weekend, I brought my mother’s wedding dress to a consignment shop. What a hard letting go. The dress, last worn in 1947, has lain carefully folded in a cedar chest drawer. My sibs or I didn’t wear it, neither has the next generation of possible brides. Umm, on second thought, I had entertained, very briefly, using the dress. I didn’t get as far trying it on. It is long sleeved, shiny, white satin and I was marrying in August—outside and without air conditioning. I proposed using the dress, altered, without long sleeves and train. The word altered stopped the conversation with my mother. And so, it’s been in a drawer, hers and then mine for 72 years.
And yet, I could not just put it in the St. Vinnie’s bag. About a month ago I hung it in our third bedroom on the closet door, and every day for a few weeks, I passed it, looked at it, thought about it. As a child, I viewed it like a religious icon. A large framed picture of my parents, dressed in wedding finery, graced my mother’s dresser. I admired the picture, I admired the magic that was the couple that my parents were when they were young and optimistic and could promise each other all of themselves. My relationship with my parents, especially my mother, was complicated and unsatisfying. The couple in the picture lost the shine of that original optimism but the dress was a shiny satin relic.
The dress became my charge when my mother’s house was broken up. I had not taken it out of its cedar drawer until a few weeks ago when Cheshire came home. She tried it on, more for my pleasure than out of curiosity and then, I hung it up. A friend used her antique connections to find the dress a new home and the best we could find was a consignment shop, ReFined Style on Monroe Street. I was still unsure when I brought it to the shop but that all changed when the owner saw the dress. She loved it! She oohed and ahed over the condition, the material and the cut. She is sure that she will find some bride who will love it. And with just that enthusiasm, I came to peace. Somewhere there was a bride who will glory in that dress and I discovered that was all I needed to let go.
And the garden. Peonies and Japanese Iris. Today they are my favorites, even though a month ago I would swear by Tulips and Blue Bells and next month the Hollyhocks and Lillies will take a turn. I cannot take in enough of the gifts of the garden, now predominately pink and purple, so much so that I can almost hear the beauty. More of the same during a walk in Olbrich Gardens at the beginning of the week with a friend.
And this is where and how I want to spend my last days in Madison. Not in foreboding and trepidation but in sweetness. And so, it is time to let go of trying to bend a system to fit my circumstances, to fit the square peg of our family into the much too small round hole of MassHealth. It is time to find the workarounds.
Update to today: I talked to Cindy Klien, who has been advising me on health insurance for a few years. She works in Wisconsin, not Massachusetts but she had ideas including keeping Julia’s Wisconsin insurance for a few months while I navigate MassHealth in person. A reprieve and workaround.
Packing: Julia and I washed and rolled our rugs. I packed our lamps. More boxes are filled with a random assortment of contents, and there are still more baskets to pack. We are more inclined to hang out on my bed for picnic suppers and tv watching. And Julia hasn’t complained about moving in days. Of course, she wasn’t pleased that the nail polish was packed but fortunately, last night’s supper hostess graciously offered Julia a fantastic shade of red.