October 25, 2023 was the four-year anniversary of her death from multiple sclerosis, a disease experts agree is not supposed to kill you. Her secondary cause of death was listed as “adult failure to thrive,” polite hospice parlance for “starving to death.”

There are tiers of quality to the places you might live if you’re no longer able to contribute under capitalism, and your community is unable or unwilling to hold you. The final resting place my mom’s income bracket afforded her always smelled, and there was always someone calling for help. There were kind caretakers who painted her nails deep red and smiled at me, and some cruel and thoughtless ones. All of them were likely paid a miserable, unlivable pittance to be responsible for more residents than one person could ever responsibly care for. My mom knew of no way to see mobility aids except as markers of shame and loss, and had no way to leave through a front door with an electronic lock and a code kept from residents. The building was beside a river, but her window faced the internal courtyard.

The care home staff later told me that attending my college graduation—this moment that was supposedly the culmination of all this work and sacrifice, of all my mom had given up to lift me up—was what killed her.

Read more in Teen Vogue.

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