Dear Governor Haslam:
This is my 125th letter to you.
It has been a couple days since I have written a letter. I have been looking back over past letters and wondering what to say. So many things have been talked about I wasn’t really sure. The talk about you actually presenting a real Tennessee plan instead of just planning to have a plan has everyone a little excited. It feels like we are moving closer to reality. And I wonder about how to phrase things. How do you draw the line between being encouraging about might happen and angry about has happened? I don’t know.
Almost surely people have died that didn’t need to. Almost surely people have suffered pain and suffering and illness that didn’t need to. Almost surely people are facing financial ruin that didn’t need to. And almost surely people have changed in ways they wish they hadn’t.
I know I have. These letters were born out of a deep, soul crushing sense of outrage at what your failure to expand Tenn Care had cost me and my wife. This year has been the worst, most overwhelming year of my life. So much has been lost. I don’t know if I can put it into words. My marriage has been shredded by your actions or rather your infractions. I think maybe people have heard our story so often that the sheer nastiness of it has been muted. I have tried hard to accept what I can’t control and some days have done so well. Other days not. I am angry, irritable, short tempered. Some days I don’t like me. Some days I feel like I am gone. Some days I wonder when I will return.
People often tell Linda and I we are heroes but neither of us really buy that. There are people fighting for their lives in a system that debates rather or not it is a wise or ethical choice to help them. There are people who wonder every day if anyone is listening or anyone sees. There are people who have found that their being poor is a capital crime and wonder what court will hear their appeal. These people are the real heroes.
The worst of it is not about us, but the worst of our life has been about it. Linda talks a lot about asunder… “What God has put together let no man out asunder…” It has been a through the looking glass year for us. And Governor you have put us asunder.
Governor I will rejoice if there is a Tennessee Plan. The state of Tennessee needs to get out of the business of deciding which of its citizens is disposable. It is way way overdue. And I will rejoice that you have acted.
The rage will not go away soon I fear. The outrage will color life for a while. I want to say I will be forgiving but honestly I don’t know. You have affected the lives of people you have never met more than anything they have faced. I hope the responsibility weighs heavy on your heart.
Gather courage Governor. The path ahead is difficult. It is a journey so important. You can make this a better world for so many. I hope you see it as an opportunity and not a burden.
We are all looking forward to the Tennessee plan. And a changed Tennessee.