October 16, 2014

I will not remain silent.

Post-transplant day #310.  I will not be silent.

This last month has been unusually hard on the cystic fibrosis community, with a high number of deaths of both pre- and post-transplant cystics, and the death of the wife of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's COO. In response, there is currently a 65-hour silence going on in the CF community, with many of us abstaining from social media for that time, I think in an effort to get the world to see what it's like when so many voices fall silent.  But as Stalin said, "When one person dies, it's a tragedy; when a million die, it's a statistic."  So it would be if we all fell to the scythe at once. So I am not participating. 

I will not be silent.  I will not let my voice be suppressed, I will not let my voice be drowned out, I will not let my words be overrun by the blatherings of people whose most worrisome concerns are whether the potholes get filled or the trains come on time.  I will not stop talking about my cystic fibrosis, nor about other people's CF, as they choose to share it.  I will not keep my thoughts unvoiced when doing so means giving an easy rest to those who otherwise will not care.  In this society, with so many bits of minutia crowding each person's attention all day long, it is not just that my voice that can raise an important matter to the light, but can educate the unknowing, bring passion to the vapid, elucidate my fellow cystics' struggles, and, yes, even glorify our small achievements.

Most importantly, my voice gives some life to the dead.

Four days ago, another CF friend of mine, one I've known longer than average, passed away.  Brittany Wood was the same kind of CF Warrior we all inevitably become, fighting this disease tooth and nail until, sadly, it finally claimed her, casting her husband adrift.  Just days before her, Kenna Taylor, just a kid.  Why would I be silent about their deaths, when I mourn them as I mourn my own family??

And not only do I speak, but I don't just speak in the direction of those who are primed and eager to listen, my fellow CF Warriors.  Rather, I write and post so that YOU, my NON-CF friends and followers can live with me ... for a heartbeat. 

I speak so that you will feel what I feel...
I speak so that you will experience my distress.
I speak so that you will feel the rush of my endorphins.
I speak so that you will taste the same salty sweat from exertion.
I speak so that you will hear the same music I do.
I speak so that you will tear your hair with grief as I do.
I speak so that you will love the same way and the same people I have loved.
...I speak so that you will understand the world as a cystic does.

Today, Manda Thom passed away after a long, difficult battle.  I am devastated. She was 17 and had just gotten her new lungs less than two weeks ago.  I don't know what went wrong, but I do know this should not happen!  So how am I, one of the voices she leaves behind, expected to remain quiet in this sixty-five hours of silence??  The dead will fill that silence quite well, with no help from us.

Tonight, I am reminded of the need to speak and the need to do so regularly, forcefully, and both detail and volume if necessary.  I am reminded that while a movement of inaction, such as a boycott or sit-in, can have impact, it can only have impact if that movement has a voice to explain it.  Maybe I have missed the point of the Sixty-Five Hours of Silence; perhaps someone can explain it to me....in...another 35 hours.  Meanwhile....

I will not remain silent.