What a Horrible, Hopeful Day

This day has been, for the past 19 years, a day of self-reflection and writing, and today is no different. I started the day with a note to my family and now I want to share a bit more.

It was a horrible day. Horrific. Unthinkable. Tragic. Terrifying. The planes seemed to be pulled like magnets toward our buildings and our people. Who would do something like this? Who could hate so much to try to end the lives of people they don’t know?

It is a horrible day. Horrific. Unthinkable. Tragic. Terrifying. Our west coast is a blaze because we won’t act on climate change. Our people are dying from an unrelenting virus. Our Black community members are fighting for nothing more than justice and fairness. Our cities, our towns, our families and friendships are in danger of further fissure along racial and political lines. Who could hate so much to try to end the lives and livelihoods of people they don’t know?

The day proceeded as if almost a dream. I sat on the floor, for hours, rocking my one year old and crying as softly as possible so as not to frighten her, but fearful for the world I had brought her into. Meetings were postponed and those that did continue were a blur. The street went quiet, void of the daily dog walks and the bikes of all the neighborhood children making their way up and down the driveways, giggling and bells ringing, as they passed. I didn’t hear cars, on the nearest major road, and surely didn’t hear any on our quiet street along the shores of Lake Erie. It was, apropos, I suppose, eerily quiet and still.

The days proceed as if almost a dream. I often find it hard to pull myself out of bed as I cry, quietly, for the horrors and deaths of the day before. I fear for the world I am leaving my children. Meetings often bring me to tears, for the kindness of others, as I share conversations, across the screens for my work and for The Great Reset. The streets, in the not too distant past, quiet as that day 9/11/2001, during the more restrictive days of the Covid pandemic, now bustle with people trying to get on with some semblance of normalcy. The squares, of so many cities and towns, fill with people, Black and White, and all those who make up the fabric of our country, crying out for justice, and peace. The firefighters fight a raging inferno, seemingly never-ending and gaining strength with the passing days.

There is, honestly, too much, and yet what right do I have to say that? When is it too much: When our sports are ‘interrupted’ with pleas for justice? When Hollywood uses their platform to beg for a better tomorrow? When our coffee klatch, our evening ‘respites,’ become another time we must address the horrors of the day, for if we don’t we aren’t honoring those who have come before and have fought this fight for years, decades…centuries. When we can’t not address the atrocities of the day because silence is no longer an option. When we cry as we watch people mourning the death of their loved ones from Covid or racial strife? When we watch our loved ones suffer for the ills of the day, be they fires, covid or racial injustice? Is that when it’s too much? Is it too much to act? Is it too much to speak?

We have only just begun, this national dream, turned nightmare, is set in motion to remind us, to show us, to make us feel the horrors of a country that can’t see eye to eye. This nightmare will replay, over and over, until such time that we can see past our differences, only so that we can appreciate each others’ uniqueness and all that we are because the fabric of our country is not a fine and smooth silk, but one of patchwork and quilting. Each and every square tells a story of how we came to be in America, and for the fortunate ones, an American. The horrors of a people who lived on American soil, before it was America, who thought they had come to know allies, only to learn they were wolves in sheep’s clothes. The struggles of our ancestors, who with nothing to offer, but their will and determination, landed on American soil to make us what we are today. The unknowable stories of peoples’ great-great-grandparents being ripped away from their native lands to serve others in an unknown world. Along the way we tatter and rip at the fabric of America and we are laid bare. Eventually, each and every hole mended with a fabric that reminds us of what lie beneath, not to hide, but to protect that struggle, that strife, that tore at the fabric. Every mend makes us stronger for the additional stitches that now hold us together, and once again make us whole.

It was a hopeful day. My neighbor, Amy Casey, and I finally connected. She was the first person beyond my family I had seen in days. We met on my front yard. We hugged, we cried and we determined that we will get better, we will heal and we will be a beacon of light, and hope. That evening, my daughter in the wagon and my husband at my side, delivered luminaries to all the neighbors to line the street with light that night. It was a way to come together. It was our way, as a neighborhood, a group of strangers brought together not by family ties, but by life choices and circumstance, to be friends and those upon whom when you needed something, be it a cup of sugar, a babysitter or someone just to share a moment, you had each other. It was as idyllic as it sounds, life on Clifton Parkway, and I look back at it with nothing but fondness and gratitude that it was there, and with them, that I saw my family through 9/11. They, my neighbors, gave me hope. They, my neighbors, showed me that they were there to support my first steps out of the house, once again into the world, as terrifying as it may have been that day and the days following, I would not back down. I was more determined than ever to make tomorrow a better day for my family, the families I had come to lean on over these difficult days, and the families I knew suffered unspeakable loss. I had hope for a better tomorrow and while it ebbed and flowed, our stutter steps toward forward progress, there were moments of extreme and authentic kind acts that I saw because we lived through 9/11.

It is a hopeful day. On the heavy days a simple text or phone call just to check in, lifts me up. I reach out to my now college age daughters just to let them know I love them…and on a good day I hear back a similar message. I run up the stairs, to my husband’s makeshift office to bring him a cappacino and a peck on the cheek just so he knows I’m here in case he needs me. On the tough days I look to my supporters and all the participants of The Great Reset to know, first hand, that conversations matter and we can explore our differences and all that make us unique, but leave as friends. It is a hopeful day when you find allies who light the way to a better tomorrow and are willing to do the heavy lifting and not back down just because it seems to be too much. It is a hopeful day when I see white people fighting fiercely for a better tomorrow for our Black community members. It is a hopeful day when I see parents helping their children navigate education during Covid. It is a hopeful day when I see our youth stand up and say ‘no more’. It is a hopeful day, when through the sad passing of John Lewis, his message only got stronger.

We are a country in tatters, that is undeniable. It is in the moments of peril, those that could, but don’t break us down, that we find our true strength and we push forward toward something better. That is what it looks like to love a country so much that you are willing to look at all the holes and find a way to mend it. Our quilt will never be the same it will be altered along the way, but only to make it stronger and more resilient. Let’s do this, people, let’s get in some #goodtrouble and make tomorrow a better day for all.

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