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The Burdens We Carry

Amy Scheiner | Longreads | July 1, 2019 | 2,695 words
Posted inEssays & Criticism, Feature, Featured, Nonfiction, Story

The Burdens We Carry

Amy Scheiner reflects on her mother’s sudden death and what it means to be a woman in a world that is set up to bury them.
Illustration by Homestead

Amy Scheiner | Longreads | July 2019 | 11 minutes (2,695 words)

My mother died carrying water.

She was hauling a 24-pack of Poland Spring to bring to my brother’s new dorm room. She was proud of him because he was finally moving out. She had struggled to raise two children who had themselves struggled immensely along the way. My mother was tireless, indestructible, “high energy” as she described herself, but lately she had seemed worn to me. Aside from a high-powered law career, she spent the last few decades caring for her husband and her children, the community, her grandmother, and her mother. When I learned about God as a child, I remember thinking: He had nothing on Mom.

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In many parts of the world where water doesn’t instantly flow from a faucet, people venture by foot to retrieve water just for everyday drinking, bathing, and cleaning. These people are usually women. They often walk miles, all day, leaving them little or no time to enter the workforce or pursue an education. It’s estimated that “one-fifth of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water,” according to Women and Water: Issues of Gender, Caste, Class, and Institutions, a report by Maithreyi Krishnaraj.

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