Trisha’s Story

The world can move too fast.  President Barack Obama delivers one of the most important speeches of his Presidency and most folks, even the President, have already moved on.  But, if words have meaning and moments have impact, moving on from the speech is exactly what should not happen.  Not yet. 

33-year-old Trisha Urban will always remember his address.  The young Berks County, Pennsylvania, mother has three reasons to remember: Her late husband, Andrew; their baby girl, Cora; and the fact that Trisha was there.  She was sitting in the U.S. House Gallery, across the floor from First Lady Michelle Obama.  Senator Robert Casey invited her as his guest.  Casey had been moved by Trisha’s story.

It was 7 months ago. She and Andrew were awaiting the birth of their daughter.  Trisha’s water had broken and they were preparing to go to the hospital.  Andrew was taking out the trash and feeding the animals when he suffered a heart attack and died.  He was 30-year-old.  Cora was born a few hours after Andrew passed away.

Andrew knew he had a congenital heart defect and had been seeing doctors and for awhile had insurance through a university.  But Trisha says he had to take an internship to complete his doctorate and that the insurance company “found a loophole” and dropped their coverage.  Their medical bills began to pile up and Andrew skipped a doctor’s appontment to save money.  The young widow tells me off her husband’s passing, “His death seemed so senseless. I truly believe if the system were different and he’d gone to that last doctor’s appointment, he’d still be here today.”

Trisha sees truth in the President’s speech.  “When the President talked about the pre-existing conditions and was giving people’s testimony, I could definitely relate,” she says.  Adding, “(The address was) a wonderful and moving experience…It sent chills down my spine it was just so wonderful.”  She hopes it will dispel myths and misinformation.

When she heard Congressman Joe Wilson shout, “You lie,”  she says, “I thought to myself that…they need to set a better example.  It comes from the top to the bottom and the constituents are taking direction from the Congressmen and that particular Congressman needed to represent himself a little better.”  She says, “I would love to talk with them (members of Congress) face to face and tell them my story because what happens on Capitol Hill and what’s out there in the real world are two totally different worlds.  I hear my story over and over again.”

There were decisions made by Andrew and Trisha that affected what happened.  But, not to consider that they were affected by the system is to deny reality.  To deny a better system for those not in perfect health or in changing employment is to choose a harsh philosophy in the responsibilities of a wealthy society. 

In Trisha’s view, “It’s not about how much it will cost.  It’s about how much it will cost not to have health care reform.  Not only have I lost my husband, and I can’t put a price on life, my daughter has lost her father.  She now gets Social Security death benefits, survivor benefits.”  Trisha began softly breaking up as she told me, “My husband would have put more into the system than we are taking out now.” 

Ms. Urban has since her husband’s death worked as many as 4 jobs at once.  She is now down to 2, including a job in a nursing home and has started down a new career path. Trisha hopes to work in hospice care to try, in her words, “To make this event in my life something positive for somebody else.”

President Barack Obama’s speech is long over, but Trisha Urban will long remember.  It is her story all to easily unheard in a world that moves too fast.