Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sister Bluebird flying high above

One of her proudest moments, and mine for her, was when she bought her cabin in the mountains. With no family help, she found and bought a wonderful escape hatch, somewhere she could go and leave the world behind.

I wasn’t so sure at first, as I tried to play “Practical older brother” guy. But when I saw how excited she was, it seemed perfect. She could fix it up exactly the way she wanted, and have a place to go where nothing else could get in her way. And she could make a little income from renting it out, as it was in a popular vacation area, so that made the deal even sweeter.

The last time she saw it was when our other sister and her kids drove her up there for the day. By then she was pretty sick, and that drive was almost too much for her. She never saw her beloved cabin again.

My sister Kristin died, 4 years ago today, from complications of cervical cancer. It was a painful and humiliating experience for her, yet she made it seem more graceful than I can even still imagine. She showed strength, humor, determination, and ultimately wisdom as the journey quickly ran its course.

So I take special interest in hearing that Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council is quoted as saying:
"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex," Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus.

My new friend & associate Lambert at Correntewire also wrote about this topic just this week:
From the print-only version of this week’s even more than usually stellar New Yorker,

. . .
To prevent infection with HPV, and to mimimize the risk of cervical cancer, girls would need inoculations before becoming sexually active. … Vaccinations for contagious diseases like measles and mumps are required before a child can enter public school. That won’t be the case with the HPV vaccine, however. The Bush administration, its allies on Capitol Hill, and the religious base of the Republican Party are opposed to mandatory HPV vaccinations. They prefer to rely on education programs that promote abstinence from sexual activity, and see the HPV vaccine as a threat to that policy.
I would have done anything to keep my sister alive. I would have given her any treatment, any drug available. I would have eaten any poison given me if I was assured she would live. So when I see this crap, I really wish these people could have held her hand at the end, as we all did. She was not an abstraction, an agenda, a political viewpoint. She was a real live human being, with worth, with a soul and mind. She died, because of a virus that might be preventable.

Shakespeare said:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
Easy words, noble in spirit. Yet Kristin's "outrageous fortune" ended her life. Would we be so noble as Willie when we consider the lives of those we love, cherish, and value? Would right-wingers so bent on theocracy be as quick as Willie to consider death as an honorable consequence of their agenda, if it was their loved one doing the dying?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

I watched my sister die. She knew she was going to Heaven. I felt, at that moment, that there indeed was a Heaven for her. Ms. Maher, until you watch someone you love die, don't lecture me, or anyone, about morality.

Kristin Carol Anderson: Sep. 19, 1959-Mar. 9, 2002

“She was in many ways the finest human being we have ever known, and we will try to walk in the delicate but giant footsteps she has left for us to follow.”