I am writing. Sometimes it helps. I am pushing my sorrow through my fingers and onto this virtual page.
When I was 11 years old in 1967, someone tried to kill me with a knife. Some of my friends know this, some do not. I was in the hospital for six days. I lived.
Two days before my 35th birthday in 1990, after trying to conceive for more than seven years, I thought I might die from the ectopic pregnancy that took my only baby. I did not.
When I was 40, I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma of the neck – most likely my right tonsil. I had a total of five surgeries, including a double tonsillectomy and a radical neck dissection on the same day, followed by thirty days of radiation. Half of the people who had this cancer were dead in five years. I was not.
Three and one-half years ago, I lie on the floor and wrapped my arms around a dog that I loved above just about all people and whispered into his precious ear while he left me. My heart went with him for a long time. But I got it back.
A little more than two years ago, I lost one of my best friends to suicide. There. Are. No. Words.
And there is more; I’m just skimming off the top for comparison to tell you what happened yesterday is just as bad to me as all of those heartbreaking events. My country betrayed me. My social media posts during the last week said over and over again I believed the citizens of my country would do the right thing. And I did believe it. But that is over for me now, and it will stay over. I will not trust again. Almost half of the people in the United States voted for racism and against Blacks, Muslims, Jews, and Mexicans – anyone who is not white and male. They gave the nod to misogyny. They agreed it was OK to mock the handicapped. They decided sexual assault and groping were not a problem, in fact a joke. Racketeering – that’s OK too. They condemned the entire LGBT community. They voted against the less fortunate. They decided it was OK if poor people didn’t have insurance and were unable to get treatment if they were ill. Life-and-death ill. My country elected the most evil, ignorant, narcissistic, racist, deplorable public figure who has ever presented himself to us.
Martin Niemöller, a prominent pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, wrote several versions of this poem – this is one of the best known.
|“When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
When they came for the trade unionists,
When they came for the Jews,
When they came for me.”
This reflects what I see in our future.
So we woke up this morning to the reality of fear, if we slept at all last night. I did not. I have friends with children, indeed some have adopted minority children. One child’s best friend is Muslim. These parents, and many more, are struggling with what to tell their babies. I cannot imagine. I am an adult and I am terrified, truly bone-deep afraid. I wonder if today I feel like black people feel, have always felt, and I feel shame for not realizing perhaps this is true. I have always thought I was strong enough to protect those who needed protection. I don’t feel like that today. I am defeated. But I am leaving on the back of my van, a small square Hillary forward arrow. I will leave it there as a sign for people who may need help. Like the ladies in the depression on whose fence post a hobo might draw a cat to show a kind woman lived there. My father tells me his family wasn’t hungry during the depression. They were poor but they had a large, working farm – so they had food. His mother kept a pot of soup going and fed anyone who was hungry. Perhaps there was a cat drawn in front of her door. The fish symbol thrived so people could find other Christians. I’m keeping my H so people can find me. I am terrified but I pledge to protect those who are less fortunate than I, those who fall into one of the compromised categories. And there are many. I promise I will do my best. And to those who are not as fortunate as I have been, I will not forsake you. I will not. I will work to recover my true self and I will be brave again. What has happened here is more important than one individual person and I will stand up and fight for you with every breath I have. Soon. I swear. I can do no more.
My heart is broken.