Editor’s note: I didn’t think there would be anything on this site today. In fact I thought about leaving it all. No more writing. No more social media. Just turn away from this world that created and endorsed a monster. I was done.
Then my wife said “I wrote something today if you want to post it.” I forgot she’s the better writer. She gave me what I needed to keep going. I feel this site, my writing, everything will change over the next four years. I don’t know how or what but I do know I’ll be able to look my son in his eyes and never feel like I didn’t at least try.
And now, a mother’s letter.
My Dearest Declan,
Today is just like any day. You’ve picked all the marshmallows out of two bowls of Lucky Charms, played with your well worn Wiggles figures, and told me repeatedly how silly Princess Bubblegum is. It was not unlike yesterday, and quite likely tomorrow. To you, it is another day home with “Monny”, while Daddy works.
Today is unlike any other day. We found out who the country chose for its next president. I am more than sad. I am grieving. Full on, five stages of grief, grieving. A lot of Americans went out to vote yesterday. We did. You were there, oblivious to what any of it meant, aware only of the minor change in our routine. Today, I am grieving the outcome.
I am grieving for the LGBTQ community. You’re still too little for us to know if you might be someone who is a member of that community, Declan. I love you. Unconditionally. You deserve the right to marry whoever you love. I am grieving for the non-white ethnicities in our country. Racism is real. It’s not just an extreme rarity. It has been embraced. I am grieving for the Muslims. They have blatantly been told they don’t belong here, regardless of their citizenship. I am grieving for women, whose very bodies may not be their own much longer. I am grieving for refugees who believed in acceptance and safety. I am grieving for the idealists, who dared to think the rights of these people would be protected. I feel their loss, already. I keep recalling a line from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Our country is described as “the melting pot where nothing melted.” Anything but a landslide victory against Trump proves how accurate that description is. It is such a beautiful ideal that we could celebrate our differences. I’m grieving that so many people could disagree with me.
I have turned my face from you and wiped my eyes when you weren’t paying attention, today, Declan. This small upstairs apartment is your bedrock. Your father and I are your sense of security. It scares you when I cry. I want to shelter you from this forever, but it would be wrong.
More than I want to shelter you from this grief, I want you to have empathy and respect for all people. Pain and compassion are often hand in hand. I am devastated because I am compassionate and that it is my duty as your mother to try to ensure that you will be, too. I’m sorry that if I succeed in raising you to be the person I hope you will be, you might feel how I do now. But, Declan, forgive me, because our country needs more people like that in the future.
I am grieving as a mother, Declan, so deeply. I didn’t think that this outcome was possible. I didn’t think that enough voters could choose what, to me, was so obviously ignorance and fear and hatred. The entire campaign seemed ludicrous to me. I would look over at your father and say, “He can’t actually win, right?” I am trying so hard to believe that most of those people were somehow blinded to the hate that was almost all I could see. I still need to love those people, too.
Trump won. I grieve for my own idealism. I grieve an optimism and faith I wasn’t even aware I had. I still have hope that the way our political system is structured has enough checks and balances that the sky won’t fall. I hope that writing letters to representatives and protests will be heard. I have hope that we will choose better in the future. I have hope that we will teach you to be involved in politics. I have hope that you will learn from our example that every person deserves compassion, equal treatment and respect. Even the ones who are different. Even the ones who we disagree with so strongly. The ones who went out yesterday and chose this. I choose unconditional love today. Over hate and over fear. I choose to take that feeling that warms my chest every time I look at you and know every last one of us was an innocent child. Just like you are right now.
I will stop grieving soon. I will continue to try to be more educated and more involved. I make that vow for you, Baby Bear. Someday, I want you to read this and feel proud of me. To look back on this election as history you were oblivious to at the time, but know in retrospect that I made good on my promises, and that these words were more than naive idealism. That people can grow and change and this country can become a better place for everyone. If it’s not, yet, then I hope you will stand by my side in pursuit of those goals. I hope we make each other proud, Declan.