Today I’m 45 years old. It’s a milepost for me. When I turned 40 I believed I’d live past 80, but at 45 I don’t think I’ll make it to 90 so I am officially on the downward side of the hill. Or as Hallmark would say, “Over the Hill.” Eh, whatever. But these mileposts do give me pause. At an infertile 45, all I can leave this world are words and low-level actions. (Unless I win a multimillion-dollar jackpot and then I will be the ballingest philanthropist South Jersey has known.). What words do I want to leave?
Back when I first brought Max home he was understandably pretty messed up from whatever his life was before me. I’d sit next to him on the floor and pet him and tell him, “You are safe, loved, and warm. You don’t have to keep your guard up anymore. Safe, loved, and warm.”
When WM and I met, we were both two very broken people, battered by heartbreak and lives that were definitely not what we had planned on. I’d tell him, “You are safe, loved and warm. Everything’s going to be okay.”
This I believe: Everybody deserves to be safe, loved, and warm.
Safe. I believe humans deserve to be protected from anyone who wishes to hurt them, physically or mentally. This includes predators of any sort, corrupt officials, angry exes, abusive authority figures, antiquated legislation, and bullies. If a family allows themselves to be smuggled here in a car trunk or a box truck so that they can be safer, they should be able to stay. Safety needs to be provided to everyone to everyone, no matter what they look like, where they come from or what they believe. If someone is sick or ill, they should be treated with the best medical care and all the compassion we can give. If this means we have to provide everyone healthcare, then I believe in that too.
Loved. Kids need to know they are special. Workplaces should show their employees understanding and appreciation. And everyone, large or small, deserves to have people ask about them if they go missing or quiet for a few days. Humans should be able to love and be loved by whoever they want, as long as that person agrees to and is able to agree to it, and that they are not hurting someone else in the process. (See: Safe.) Men and women, women and women, men and men, inter-racially and inter-religiously. If this means we have to do a bit of legislative work to make sure that happens, I believe in that, too.
Warm. Everyone deserves to fall asleep in a place that’s safe from the elements, with climate control, a full stomach, and without worry. Well-fitting clothes and shoes. Some toys for the little kiddos, well-funded schools for the older kiddos, and the for the oldest kiddos, the assistance to get the higher education that they need so that they can achieve safe, warm, and loved for themselves. Warm is probably the hardest right to guarantee. Some people, for any number of reasons, will never be able to pull this off for themselves. We should help them. And sometimes bad luck happens. From the largest hurricane to a house fire, people deserve to be able to fall back into a safe environment until they get on their feet. If all of this means we should work to adjust minimum wages or provide affordable housing so that people can have the safe home they deserve, I believe in that, too.
I’m 45, and I still don’t know why I’m here. But while I’m rolling down the other side of the hill, I’m going to try to use my resources to make sure as many people as possible get to be safe, loved, and warm.