Time passes. Grief changes. A lot has happened and been said since November 8 and the election. Many opinions, reflections, news items – both fake and factual – have been penned and pondered. I have occasionally reposted or “liked” someone else’s comments.
But I have struggled to articulate a nuanced understanding of my own about the election of a man who has celebrated his sexual assault of women, encouraged Americans to fight publically when police are striving mightily to become partners in their communities; behaved as a child on a playground about a disabled man, pitted white against black, brown, red and yellow, and completely obliterated the meaning of freedom of religion.
I struggled to understand my uncharacteristic stillness. Until President Obama’s farewell speech from Chicago…
I paused the speech before it began. I had to record it and save it for later. Because of the pain and sorrow that caught in my throat and ran down my cheeks as I began to say goodbye.
I finally realized the depth of my grief. Not just a disappointment at my candidate’s loss. Not just anger like a petty, sore loser. Not just embarrassment that people I thought I knew … yet too painful to articulate even now….
I realized as the President took the stage that something I held dear had died.
And suddenly I thought of the generation who watched in horror and silence as President Kennedy was taken away from us. That day, for that generation, their hope died and people remember details about that moment, that day, that week and tell those stories to this day. This was my Kennedy.
As President Obama entered, I understood that my country died on November 8. The hope and change and dream and “yes, we can,” America I knew was dead. And I have been with an unspeakable grief. The USA I thought I lived in was not just vanquished, but perhaps had always been non-existent.
The arc of the moral universe broke. The wings of freedom fell from the sky in a garbage heap of hopeless feathers. The light of the promise that all Americans may pursue life, liberty and happiness, went out.
America was dead.
… … … then the President spoke.
Then….I cried and began to say goodbye.
And as I let go, opened my hand and unclenched the tight grasp of what I thought might still be salvageable, my tears bathed me in truth. Truth always brings new light.
…………………………..“You are not alone.” said Lawrence O’Donnell speaking about a new poll.
For that knowledge, I am grateful. For as I come about, and the trauma of this present darkness lifts, I will need you—
You– who believe that death will never have the last word.
You who believe we can be stronger in the broken places when we attend and heal them.
You who believe that we have a moral obligation to one another as human beings to be good neighbors in spite of the ways we may disagree.
You who believe we are to be good stewards of this gift called Earth.
I need you—
who act for justice, love mercy and walk in humility.
What will be the United States of America is yet to be known. But it is already rising in the hands of those around us. And I don’t intend to watch from the sidelines of a garbage heap. Nor will I leave it to those who killed the founders’ dream.
May the darkness become kindling for new firelight of freedom,
The feathers sharpen into quills to pen the language of a new hope and vision,
That arc, an arrow pointing the way, lining a path, and bridging the divide.
To you who had to grieve publically so as to hold space until others began awakening, I am sorry I’ve taken so long. Thank you for listening in the night, catching fears, collecting tears, opening doors, cracking windows, calling out, whispering names, until I heard and at last say, “Here I am, send me.”