Because the nearing 9 on the 1-10 scale of pain migraine (with full court nausea, light, sound, and smell sensitivity), acute back pain and PT I have to do despite the pain, and a pharmacy mix-up weren’t enough today (thank you for treating me like a drug addict, pharmacy, because my self-esteem isn’t low enough), the new owner of my private law school debt called tonight, just as the pain was ebbing…and offered me a 50% discount if I could pay them today.

Half of impossible is still impossible, but before I could say this, he suggested I ask my friends and family to chip in. WTF? As if I’m going to start a GoFundMe page. No. (He was treated to a polite version of why my parents and I don’t speak, and I only cried a little–perhaps he didn’t notice. I hope.)

In any event: cue the Calvinist shame spiral. I make no money, therefore I am worthless.

While waiting for the details of this fabulous deal he was offering to be emailed to me (I have never even seen a piece of paper from these people), I started clearing out my inbox, including ancient Vonage files from the worst years of my life (TM), from family members I haven’t seen or spoken to since the time I made the mistake of asking them for help (not financial, just actual physical help while being buried under my job and new baby and husband who had multiple back surgeries in one year, just after the year I was constantly flying to their state to help them out) and was rebuffed by everyone. Everyone.

Yeah, that hurt. It still does, after all these years. I hope none of you know that feeling of betrayal. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone (except, perhaps, my parents).

But.

On my computer (or more properly, in the cloud) are a few voicemail messages from my deceased grandmother. The majority are sad; her mind was clouded and she had a hard time by the end of the day, when she would usually call (when we were often stuck in traffic; this is in the days of landlines, kids). But there was one, from not long before she died, where she was clear and alert, as if twenty years younger, thanking me for sending pictures of “you and your beautiful child.”

I played it for my beautiful child, so she could hear my grandmother’s deep Southern accented voice–for the first time–and my beautiful child, who hates being told she is beautiful and usually glares (and who was lectured as late as this afternoon that the only proper response to a compliment is “thank you”)? The beautiful child didn’t glare, but said, “Thank you,” and fetched me a Kleenex when I started to cry.

 

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