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A Love Letter To The Sick And Disabled During The Pandemic

But before we talk about our love, we need to talk about our anger. Since we haven’t been able to be “productive” we may be left to die.

April 7, 2020

Katie Tastrom
Apistolary Love
Daniel Friedman

hat a weird time for us. As COVID-19 is making its way around the world, I’ve been thinking a lot about us. I’ve mostly been worrying, to be honest. I think we all are. So I wanted to write us a letter, specifically a love letter, that barely skims the surface of my gratitude for us.

I also am longing for connection and though everyone is talking about sickness, no one is talking to sick people.

While it’s a love letter to you, it’s also a love letter to myself. A tether to my community of crips who are out there existing when all I can do is cry and try to squeak out a few words through all the Ativan in my bloodstream. And I know I don’t owe anyone anything, but I owe it to myself to keep trying to connect in the ways that I know how, and this is one of them.

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Before we talk about our love, we need to talk about our anger. Except they are the same thing — we are angry because we have not been loved.

I am so angry that we are being treated this way. That we are not being taken care of.

Abled people have been showing us how little they care about us this whole time. As we see now, it would have been so easy to include so many more disabled people by allowing work from home options like those that have been widely adopted in many fields since COVID-19 hit.

Because of this refusal by many businesses to make work from home options available to disabled people, some of the most brilliant people I know live in poverty or near poverty.

They make capitalistic notions of “productivity” impossible for us by denying us accessible jobs. The pandemic hits and then all of a sudden these jobs become accessible for some. But also because of the pandemic, there is a ventilator shortage.

Since we haven’t been able to be “productive” we may be left to die.

As part of my love for us, I want to acknowledge how much pain this is bringing forward for me and for you. Our worst fears are being proven right. But I still love you and I still love us and I love you even more because you are in this with me.

The same capitalist medical establishment that has deemed our body:minds as not as worthy as abled peoples is the one who decides who gets ventilators and who doesn’t, and ultimately who will live or die. I want to say all this to acknowledge that we are living in terror. We are essentially being promised that we will be left behind. It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to not be okay.

I love you and your existence is enough. Full stop. I love us because we know that capitalist ideas of productivity are bullshit and no one deserves to live in poverty, skilled or not.

We know so much and are so prepared for this specific moment. We will continue not only to survive but thrive. “We” as a group. Because some of us won’t make it through this. A disproportionate amount of us. And yet still we will continue to exist. Our resiliency is astounding; many of us battle our own body:minds daily.

I love you because you know that it’s not our illnesses or disabilities that are actually killing us, it’s white supremacist ableist heteropatriarchy. But we will continue to exist and I promise that any of us lost will make me fight harder. (Please promise to do the same for me.) But as my bipolar brain has trouble remembering, this too shall pass.

And in the meantime, we have each other. After this is all over the world will be different and many of the positive changes will be thanks to disabled people and the disability justice movement. So as we continue to push the world to sync to the rhythms of bodies, not markets, remember that I love you.

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