Dear President Obama,
The night you were elected president Kevin and I were robbed. This was not a bad omen for you, but it did not portend well for us.
By November 2008, I had already been diagnosed with chronic kidney transplant rejection. Over the next 8 years we endured (in tidy chronological order): The Market Crash of ’08. Our dog died. My drug overdose #1. Dialysis. Our kidney transplant. Rejection of said transplant. My drug overdose #2. Rehab. Relapse. Separation. Another dog died. Again with the relapse. Kevin’s back surgery. And the long, hard road back to trust and love.
(And don’t get me started on my skin!)
There is no way to explain to the healthy what life is like for the chronically sick and their caretakers. The profound way your life is impacted on every level—physical, emotional and spiritual. And in this country—financial.
We were devastated. But there were 3 ways you and your administration helped us through the last 8 years:
1) In 2012, Kevin and I were separated. Beyond broke. Deep in medical debt. We had tried for months to get our mortgage adjusted—to save our home. We talked about dumping the house and renting. We talked about leaving LA. And then your loan modification plan saved our house. You saved our home.
2) In 2013, I received a government letter stating it was illegal for my health insurance premium to be as high as it was. It was reduced by $250 a month. I was also guaranteed no cap on my coverage—I would not be discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition. It had its pros and cons, but ObamaCare helped and protected me.
3) In 2016, you teamed up with Macklemore to address the opioid crisis in America. You and Macklemore broke down the disease of addiction and its misconceptions beautifully. “Addiction isn't a personal choice or a personal failing and sometimes it takes more than a strong will to get better. It takes a strong community and accessible resources.” I am a drug addict and alcoholic. Thank you for lending your voice.
There were the cynics, the confused who cried, “Just go back to Canada!” Indeed I am fortunate to hold 3 passports. But home is not just a place. Home has always been where the heart is.
I have been home since the first day I stood in the California sun.
We have lived in Los Angeles for 20 years. It is where our friends live. Our godsons. The doctors I love. Where we adopted 4 dogs. Where my husband saved my life with his kidney. Where I write my book. Where I got sober. It is where I found my god. LA is my home. America is my home, and you, Mr. Obama were my president.
I cried large, impassioned tears while I watched your farewell address to the nation. As real as I have ever cried. (And I have cried a lot!)
With a nod to the future you said, “Reality has a way of catching up with you…” It certainly does and I will always be grateful to you and your administration for how you eased the reality of our last 8 years.
I will not go gently into your good night, but inspired to help those around me in sobriety and maybe one day with my words.
I am not a political person, so maybe I have no right to write. But I cannot help how I feel. And I have never felt this way about a political figure.
Thank you, President Obama.
I was proud to have voted for you twice. And I am profoundly sad to see you go.