In December 2023, the Nonviolent Medicaid Army held an Arts & Culture night dedicated to Wyoming NVMA leader, Erro Lynd. At the end of art, songs and poems together, Erro’s partner Julia shared these words.
When Erro and I met 17 years ago, we were already on our own organizing paths. We had already been fighting in different ways for a while. I’ve been so flooded with so many memories, with so many stories from other people – the funny ones, the sad ones, the great ones. I have so much coming up, from our first friend date at the ocean, and our first kiss in the ocean. The first ways I knew Erro was both in the struggle we were in together, and in nature and in love and at home and me teaching them how to cook, and living in all four corners of the country.
There’s so much I want to say. How angry I am. How sad that Erro is dying, and how grateful I am for all the support, people flying across the country to help take care of the both of us because until three weeks ago, Erro was taking care of me, and making sure I ate and all that. Now we have people taking care of both of us, and I’m so grateful I could take Erro home.
That makes me think of how many people don’t even get this death. I’m so sad they’re dying, and how many people don’t even get this death and how many people don’t even have a home to die in. How many people don’t even have the healthcare that Erro did have even if it wasn’t…
When I tell people about what hospice is, they’re like what? They come a few hours a week? They’re not there 24/7? It’s our loved ones, our chosen family coming and being with us. It’s our chosen family and our organizing family that is helping them get here.
Erro two weeks ago was at the hospital and I was home. They were in a zoom meeting about accessibility. We were still talking about organizing stuff just a few days ago. It’s never not been a part of our fight. Our fight is for all of us. And we have personally suffered a lot under this broken messed up system. There’s no way I could have Erro at home right now, if people weren’t coming here. In that same way, there’s no winning if we’re not together.
I’m hurting, but the hurting is also more beautiful and meaningful because of the love that we have together as lovers and partners and also as organizers and with our communities and having people with us. There is meaning and beauty in the pain and it’s not just pure pain.
When I’m talking to these doctors and I’m angry that hospice only comes for a couple hours a week and they don’t get it, they don’t understand what I’m talking about with healthcare as a human right. I know they would want it, too, but there’s so many people out there who can’t yet imagine that it’s possible for all of us to truly have what we need every single day, and that is possible, and that doesn’t mean we won’t die, but we won’t die so young, we won’t die so brutally, we won’t die alone.
We finally found our organizing home here. We’ve both been organizing at least for 25 years – this is our organizing home with Put People First! PA and the Nonviolent Medicaid Army. This is the place that does have the imagination and the vision and the fight for all of us truly having what we need. There’s just been times of absolute fear that Erro was going to die in the hospital alone, and how was I going to get them home and how was I going to take care of them because I need care too.
[Julia to Erro: Oh, honey, you took such good care of me.]
And I’ve had a lot of fear about how I’m going to go forward when Erro dies. Life is not separate from this fight. This fight is life. Erro told me I’m going to love you always and forever until I can’t anymore, and that’s the same way they had the approach to organizing. They went through so many harsh treatments this year, and we were totally imperfect, but we’ve been fighting and we’re gonna keep in this fight. Erro while they’re here and when they pass on to another realm, they’re gonna be in this fight, always. They’re part of me and they’re part of all of you.
This is even getting folks together from different parts of our lives, this is the crew that got the folks together.
I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m scared a lot of times and I’m fucking grateful because I’m not alone in this, there is another kind of power that’s welling up from the togetherness in this.
On the longest night and in the darkest times, there can be singing because we’re together and that makes it a blessing and even doable. Thank you everybody for your art, and creativity and your emotion, and your power and your commitment to this fight and finding other people like all of us and beyond to be in this fight together. Erro loves you so, so much and I love you so incredibly much. Most of their words recently that they’ve been able to say is just I love you, and they’ve been telling that to everyone. They can’t speak right now, but if they could, they would be telling you all how incredibly much they love and appreciate you all for your souls and your spirit and your hearts and your fight, so thank you for being here.