Grief upon Grief

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This evening, I watched the solemn memorial ceremony honoring all those who’ve lost their lives, their families’ lives, to the still-raging Covid virus since last year. The Capitol and the National Mall are fortified by thousands of police and military members to ensure the safety of tomorrow’s inauguration after the assault on Congress January 6th. Rumblings of potential incidents still stir, but for a brief time, in addition to this potent emotional moment in Washington, other cities and states paused to light buildings, skies and whatever other impactful symbol they could find. A nurse sang Amazing Grace and a gospel singer sang Hallelujah. Unless your heart was made of concrete, the grief of the past year poured out of your eyes. So much loss, so much pain, so much yet to come.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Editorial : Worst. President. Ever.

But of course, it’s more than Covid. The despair of living under the administration of who is generally agreed to be the worst leader this country has ever had, no mean accomplishment I would add, has also been a grievous experience. Truly, if I was to go biblical, I’d say he was the embodiment of the seven deadly sins. Don’t they sound right?

Pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth.

I’ll just let those words sit there by themselves. I could enumerate countless examples of them all. But that’s not really the point. Rather, it’s pain of the heavy toll he’s exacted through personal behavior and policies that have been like an endless daily lashing. Waking up each morning for four years wondering what the latest dastardly new phenomenon will start the day. For me and countless others, it’s been bearing up while feeling shredded, feeling as if progress has not only stopped but been racing backwards. For my generation, the young protestors who decades ago were trying to fix the inequities of all that came before us, the troubling question was, how did this privileged white man, arrogant, bellicose and vile come from the same time as we did? He is a caricature of a plantation owner who used states’ rights to convince people to fight the first Civil War when the truth was it was all about power and slavery. Yes, tomorrow he is going away. But he has damaged this society. That burden of grief won’t disappear overnight. I can’t remember what it feels like to not be appalled every day.

For me, the election of Trump was a scant two months before my husband’s cancer roared out of remission in its ultimate iteration, claiming his life in May, 2017, only a few months after the inauguration of this nightmare of a leader. So there I was, swamped by the grief of losing my partner of 45 years while encased by the grief of the abomination of this presidency. I’ve wondered many times in these blogs, which I started writing as a memoir of our lives for our children, if becoming a widow would’ve been easier absent the bigger picture of the political horror. I’ll never know.

I’m hardly the only one who’s experienced this pain. Even before the advent of the pandemic, life exacted its tolls from people. Illnesses, accidents and deaths. Job losses, mental illness, family splintering. Hunger, homelessness, hateful prejudices. Loneliness, poverty, despair. On and on it goes. Grief upon grief. I don’t know how long this miserable cycle will continue. Tomorrow we’re starting over. I think of the magnitude of the problems facing the new administration. I think of the ongoing worldwide struggle with the virus, with hunger, with climate change. I want to be hopeful. I’m on the short end of my life’s rope. But I care about the future for my children, my grandchildren. And all the children and grandchildren everywhere. And the earth. So tonight, I just let all this awful grief pour out. I’m not naive. There are hard times ahead. But let’s banish the extra weight of this dreadful time, these dreadful people and push this giant glob of unnecessary pain into the garbage bin of history where it belongs. Start over tomorrow. As the saying goes, “dare to struggle, dare to win.” Deep breaths. Fresh beginning.

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