by Benjamin J. Kirby
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I may be the luckiest man you know.
Most of us gauge our luck using a number of indicators: good job, supportive family and friends, enough money and free time to do the things you like. I have all of those things, and though they are indicative of some luck, real luck comes in the form of good health.
After all, if you don't have your health -- if you're sick all the time, if you're in pain -- just how good are any of those other things to you?
I am a healthy man. I have been to the emergency room twice that I can remember. Once, I was around ten or eleven and I flipped my go-cart in the parking lot of War Memorial Stadium, just down the road from our house. I scraped all the skin off my knee and had stitches and a lot of pain. I didn't even spend the night.
The second time, I was playing a drunken version of kill-the-man at the Curry College football field with my friend Dave when I took either a boot heel or patch of ice to my eyelid and sliced it wide-open. I'm not even sure they gave me stitches then. They did, however, make me throw away my bloody, muddy clothes.
I get a cold every now and then, and yes, there is the liver thing, but overall, I am a very healthy man.
It was a few months ago -- around January or so -- and Emeline was still getting used to her new "big girl" bed. She was teething, too, so the nights were pretty long. In and out of her bedroom, in and out of ours. It was just awful.
So we decided to put her back in her crib. Just for one night.
Just to get a little sleep.
I'll never forget it. The sickening thud. I knew what it was before my eyes even registered the time on the clock by the bed -- 3:36 am, the digital black numbers on the glowing blue background, burned into my memory forever.
I felt myself say it, didn't even hear it: She fell out. Duncan was up, too, and she said it out loud. I heard the words, but I could feel her panic.
My legs moving, hard, efficient, on the balls of my feet, my toes. Fast.
It's amazing the things you can think about in the time it takes to get from my side of the bed to Emmy's bedroom, which is all of twelve steps away when you're not in a hurry. Going full throttle, all I could think about was what might be broken. That maybe we'd be lucky if she landed on the rug just right. Then the worst. Did she split her head open on the dresser? Did she snag her foot in the slats, break her ankle? Break her arm? Break her neck?
Yes, I thought about the trip to the ER.
And yes, somewhere in the usually-dormant but coldly analytical part of my mind, I began calculating it. Some piece of my soul acknowledged it, and somewhere in my racing, breaking heart, I considered it: what is this going to cost us? If you are a parent, or care for a loved one, you may not like it, you may not admit it, but you know you've made those same calculations in the back of your mind in a time of crisis, too.
I threw my shoulder into her door and knew right away she was at least a little bit okay. She was sitting up, crosslegged -- criss-cross applesauce! -- sobbing her eyes out. Sitting up. That meant she could move. There was no visible blood, and as I grabbed her up -- "Baby, baby, baby, it's okay, baby..." -- I felt her small body shudder against me, and, too slowly for my taste, her little arms finally wrapped around me and she sobbed through the tears, "Daddy..."
I was so scared. So was Duncan. So was Emmy, but once we calmed her down, she was fine. I think she even slept (though I do think we thought about keeping her awake in case there was a concussion). Duncan and I, on the other hand, were fried for the night.
We were scared when it happened. And I'll admit I was scared at the prospect of driving her to the ER. Scared of what it would be like to wait by her bedside for scans and x-rays and test results to come back. Scared of what it'd be like driving her home.
I'm kind of still scared, I guess.
Maybe that's just part of having people in your life whom you love so much you know you could never live without them.
After the Supreme Court ruling on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, maybe now I won't have to reserve part of my brain -- part of my already overloaded system of emotions -- worrying about costs, about what may be covered and what is not. And I'm a guy who has good health coverage.
Or if I'm still going to be mildly neurotic, at least maybe the millions and millions of other Americans who didn't have coverage before now won't have to worry about it when something -- the unthinkable or just a close call that makes you think of the unthinkable -- happens with their own babies and loved ones.
The Supreme Court did something remarkable today. There is an abundance of analysis out there, and you can find it as well as I can.
From my view, it's a new day for many Americans who may not be as lucky as I have been. Perhaps it is an opportunity to -- finally, at long last -- think about our national health care not in terms of cost, or what we can afford, but in terms of our loved ones, their well-being, their "general Welfare."
Democracy, like my daughter, is a thing in constant motion. I'll let the legal experts explain to you what happened today. And you can bet I'll come back with more political analysis on this later. In the meantime, I've got a little girl to tuck in one last time.
She finally sleeps straight through without a problem in her big girl bed. Tonight, may we all sleep straight through, tranquil in our domesticity.