The theme of my client holiday letter last year was “I didn’t see that coming.”
Or rather, how we respond to “I didn’t see that coming.” My letter told the story of my five-year-old great-niece’s love of wrestling and how when she was pinned by her older and bigger cousin she looked up at her dad in surprised disbelief, saying “I didn’t see that coming!” Then she popped up for round two.
After, I heard from a number of clients with words of agreement and encouragement. But one man sent an email suggesting I exclude “veiled” political statements in the future because there were many like him who “suffered” over the prior 8 years. My sister, the wrestler’s grandmother and an English professor, said “Well it wasn’t very veiled and sheesh who doesn’t feel that way (incredulous)?”
Today I’d like to have a conversation with that man. I’d ask if he still feels vindicated and proud of the president he helped elect. The president whose litany of “last straw” behavior seems so endless that 3-day-old news is a lifetime ago. And every day another transgression perpetuates our great country’s spiral toward an abysmal end. This is an uncharted story in which nuclear war and nazis are on the table. How could we see this coming?
It seems I’ve said almost daily “it can’t get worse than today.” But yesterday was worse. It is unquestionably worse than the child abuse masquerading as a boy-scout speech or the X-rated Access Hollywood tape or the off-handed “fire and fury” threat of nuclear war. That list is endless and so shocking the memories blur in my horror. But yesterday, he excused nazis and white supremacists, saying there are two sides.
He said those who stood bravely against hate, who stood stalwart for what’s right and who clamored for decency were also to blame for the violence. Was he blaming the dead woman for her own violent death? That is our president, showing us again who he is: twisted, vindictive, hateful, small, shameful. My little niece popped up again in my holiday story. Heather Heyer cannot. I mourn for Heather, killed from hate by an evil young man emboldened by the president. I mourn for your country.
We all should have seen this coming. Sadly, I think I did. I just didn’t want to believe it. Now, for those of us who believe in decency and know there is right and wrong, our only choice is to gather the strength to get up again and stand against this evil.
Her closing eyes resonated suffering, dismay, sadness and the deepest sense of empathy, The old white woman simultaneously revealed all those emotions along with an ocean’s depth of despair. She demonstrated each feeling in a slow deliberate closing when she listened to the account.
Immigration officers in flak jackets raided the mushroom house in the next town over. They took away eight terrified workers, foraging elbow deep in compost, in a handcuffed line. It was a different eight taken than the four who were sought.
In the panic and despair no one checked the warrant. Or checked for a warrant for that matter. Actual details were sketchy but of this it was clear. The owner had shuffled in the shadowy space, speaking noncommittal mumblings wondering who would grub tomorrow. And tomorrow wide-eyed brown children waited pointlessly for parents who were not coming home.
The old white woman absorbed the account in despair and submerged in a silent meditation for love.
And a silent prayer for empathy.
And she silently raged against all that’s gone missing in this callous cruel time.
A bud’s concise anticipatory life stops time
Bracing nature in fresh shades
Briefly hushing agitated hands
Pea, grass, apple, chartreuse
Or simply green
Capturing all the subtle variances
The bursting season’s allure
Unnoticed by terrified passersby
Hauling rigid earlobe hanging shoulders
Reflexively, uncontrollably elevated
Slowing, breathing, stretching, meditating
In pursuit of a clear mind
All attempts at calm fizzle
As enormous bombs explode
Without a plan
Is there a plan?
Clearly no considered plan
Or thoughtful musing
Where rational care is needed
We observe as helpless hostages
Of a locked-in nuclear staring contest
Teetering on hair-trigger volatility
Our country’s fate trapped in erratic hands
Stranded by hopeless fear
And knotted stomach loathing
Eerie prospects cloud our brains
Smothering springtime pleasure
In the bleak aftermath each morning is a struggle
Stretching into motionless afternoon of leaden despair
Simmering in boa knotted stomach and boiling over
Eyes narrowed by heavy deep-creased brow
Resisting the yearning impulse to burrow under covers
Grave digging designs on hibernating through the teens
Ostrich head sunk deep down unburdens encumbered
Shoulders crushed beneath invisible fear mountain’s swell
Can strength of purpose drenched with decency and love
Shake off the light-threatening sodden blanket dirge,
Soaked with bitter regret held down by daunting waves
Churning disorientating vertigo amid panicked yells?
How does it feel to be a lesbian in the wake of Orlando Pulse?
How did it feel to be an African American in the wake of Charleston?
How did it feel to be a child in the wake of Sandy Hook?
How did it feel to be a student in the wake of Virginia Tech?
Drowning in waves of Hate is Hate
I fight to by buoyed by Love is Love
But on this day when tears flow and leaden arms resist motion
Frozen in loss and sadness
Unsuccessfully resisting imagining
Remembering a dim lit pulsing beat of the latest dance mix
A sweaty safe place with cranberry juice topped drinks
Where gorgeous girls swirl and shirtless boys dance free
Imagining the surprise, horror, fear, carnage where minutes before
Laughs, kisses, staggering happiness swayed
How does it feel to be a lesbian in the wake of Orlando Pulse?
Like any confounded American outraged by hate
Living in a bubble of love and perceived safety
Wondering if 49 gay lives will spur action
When stunning inaction followed every past slaughter
When they reported his sentence
What I heard was 15 years (because that would make more sense)
My first thought
That’s not long enough
For running a crushing freight train through children’s lives
But it was only 15 months
There’s actually a statute of limitations
On destroying innocence
Stomping out optimism
Planting a vile boot print on a half formed soul
This hateful man preyed on children
While wielding power
And haughtily peering down
The portrait of hypocrisy