Memorial Service for Allison Crews

A little while ago, I got back from the Minneapolis memorial service for Allison Crews, who passed away recently. It was absolutely lovely. I've got pictures if you'd like to see, but to describe what happened, most of the people there, if not all, were parents, and most had met Crews in person. They had a spread of food and a selection of drinks, and we chatted for a little while before gathering in a big circle and speaking. One woman had written a spoken word piece and did an impassioned, heartfelt reading, after which were some tears. Several other women spoke, and one woman sang; she was wonderful. Lots of children were there, and they wandered freely throughout the circle. I hadn't prepared anything to say myself, but while others were talking I thought of something. I was too shy to say it at the memorial (I didn't know anyone there), but I'll say it here.

Most of the people who spoke mentioned the importance of carrying on the work Crews started, the feminist work of helping young mothers (and by extension, all mothers, all women, all children, and all men). What I was too chicken to say was basically that I hope to help effect change in higher education, specifically to make it more child- and mother-friendly. These changes include putting changing tables in bathrooms on campus, implementing free on-site day care for the children of both students and faculty, and a host of other measures. I can only imagine how hard it is for young women with children to get through high school and get into college, and often when they get there, they're some of the most intelligent and dedicated students in the classroom. I want to help make sure the attrition rates of student parents, especially single mothers, are monitored and if they're high, that they're attended to appropriately. I don't have the numbers to support this, but my suspicion is that young parents in college are an "at-risk" population in some ways, and another suspicion I have is that the needs of student parents could be met with accommodations that university administration could make fairly easily.

After the informal eulogies, one woman brought out a PDA on which she had loaded Crews' well-known essay When I Was Garbage. She read the first paragraph, then passed the PDA along. Each person read a paragraph, and I actually got to read my favorite paragraph, the epiphanic one:

I grew during those weeks, not only physically (60 pounds!) but emotionally and spiritually. I meditated, prayed, screamed, cried, slept, wrote, read and thought. I realized I was more capable than I was being led to believe. I made my decision, 38 weeks into my pregnancy. I informed my boyfriend of this decision. "I am keeping the baby. I don't care what anyone says or feels. I WILL NOT lose my son. They want any baby, and I only want mine!" My boyfriend and I were going to tell my parents the next evening at dinner. I fell asleep quickly, not sobbing into my pillow like I had grown used to doing during those pain and growth-filled three months. I was keeping my baby.

It was a simple, powerful memorial service, one of the best ones I've attended.

Other essays by Crews:

And So I Choose (You've GOT TO read this one)

The Reproductive Rights of Minors

Your Government, Your Rights

Ten Things You Can Do To Protect Reproductive Freedom


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Wow, what powerful essays-- t

Wow, what powerful essays-- thanks for sharing these. My thoughts are with her family.

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