“I Will Be Blessed” by Ben Howard
Heaven is a place we hold.
Heaven is the arms that hold us
Long before we go
If you’re there
When the world comes to gather me in
I will be blessed
Heaven is a place we hold.
Heaven is the arms that hold us
Long before we go
If you’re there
When the world comes to gather me in
I will be blessed
The last post that I wrote was over three months ago.
I’ve started a few posts, but haven’t been able to finish them.
Partly because I haven’t really had an hour to breathe since mid-February.
Partly because I have nothing to say.
Partly because I have so much to say that I don’t know where to start.
Truth be told, this time of year always gets me a little down. Every year since my dad passed away in June 2014, a general malaise and “I’m-so-done-with-this-whole-life” attitude sets in around Memorial Day and doesn’t lift until mid-June (which, sadly, is always when Father’s Day happens).
There are still a few hundred others things I should be doing right now (and as I type this, I’m falling further and further behind), but I am utterly burned out, and WHATEVER, I need to do this.
In the mood for some rambling?
Here we go.
Three months. Three funerals.
One, a lifelong friend who has known me since I was 8. Her death, expected, but still difficult.
One, an acquaintance, whom I had only met only a few times. Husband of my colleague. Father of four. His death, sudden and unexpected, the last page of his story, ending in mid-sentence. Tragic, confusing, and unbelievable.
One, someone whom I have never met, but whose words created a new space for me in the Christian faith. Writer. Theologian. Mother of two young ones. Her death, also unexpected, tragic, confusing, and unbelievable.
The lifelong friend that I lost was the mother of a close friend, the kind of person who knew everything and anything about how you grew up, who you were, and what kind of person you are still becoming. Her funeral was the only one that I had any time to process, a full “luxurious” nine hours to speak at the funeral, cry, and rest with a coffee cup in hand while hearing and telling stories. (Thank you, babysitters.)
And then there were three tornadoes that tore through my hometown, though mercifully not through my neighborhood. On the morning of Tuesday, May 29th, I got texts and messages and emails, “Are you okay? Let me know.” Our community’s tragedies, front page national news.
This is the tough part of Life.
When you have to keep doing all the responsibilities, all the work, the chores, the parent-teacher conferences, dentist appointments, birthday parties, oil changes, groceriesgroceriesgroceries, not to mention all the future-focused, long-term plans (Should I go back to school? When? Change jobs? When? What kind? Where? How?)
Do all of that, while you’re reminded over and over again that:
We will all die.
Our children will die.
The homes that we build and the things that we acquire will blow away, burn, or crumble.
The great achievements that we work toward and glory in will fall into ruin and be forgotten.
Even if what we do amounts to something on this planet, Earth is still in the midst of the Milky Way, which is spinning towards Andromeda, and billions of years from now, all of this will explode in another fiery end.
What does it all mean?
Okay, right, obviously it does matter to my children that I teach them how to love and show kindness. That I live my life in a way that I want them to live.
Of course, yes, that matters.
I guess what I’m wrestling with is the truth that,
the plans and aspirations and goals that I have in my life… aren’t really that important at all.
What does it matter if I never have a boss that can appreciate my competence rather than be threatened by it?
What does it matter if I’m never paid enough for the work that I do?
What does it matter if I never make another creative thing–a book, a post, a video–that other people enjoy?
Why does it matter so much to me that I be productive, that I continue to achieve… because all of things that I’ll make and achieve are really just dust.
Or, more likely, bits of data, easily erased or buried.
That truth is the same for all of us.
But perhaps what is different is our conclusions about that truth and how we let it affect our lives.
And then there were these words from Nadia Bolz-Weber at Rachel Held Evans’ funeral.
While it was still dark.
So I guess there is something that you find at the bottom of the pile of grief, that continues to grow because there’s never time to process it all.
There is some measure of peace in knowing that it’s okay.
Whatever I do.
Whatever I don’t do.
Whatever I plan to do, but am never able to accomplish.
All is well.
I can still see you holding my three-week-old daughter in our living room, rocking in the glider. You offered to stay overnight at our place and help out with the night feedings on occasion, and we gladly took you up on the offer.
You cradled her in your arms, your gaze landing on her tiny face, your hands tracing her tiny hands. You said, “Oh… This is the best.”
“Really?” I asked, thinking of how unbelievably sleep-deprived I was. “The newborn part? Not when they were older?”
“Well…” You paused for a moment, before breaking into a wide grin, “Actually, it was all pretty awesome. But this… I just have such fond memories of my nursing my boys.”
I smiled. You rocked.
“But honestly,” you said. “I really loved it all. Every moment of it. I’d do it all over if I could.”
We talked for a time about your health, as you had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer several years earlier.
“I remember praying to God,” you said, “And I said, ‘Well, if this is my time, then it’s my time…'” Then you broke into that same wide grin, “I thought, ‘But, I sure hope it’s not!’ Turned out it wasn’t yet, and now I’m just grateful for every day I have here.”
After the initial shock that you had recently passed wore off, I combed over my memories of you. Things you had said to me first as a student, and then later as a kind of occasional life mentor. And I arrived at a common refrain:
I’m sorry I couldn’t see what you were trying to show me.
I remember all those times when I was your student and I was working through physics problems. Rather than teaching the laws of physics deductively without fully understanding their application, you used a clever, inductive reasoning approach to help students discover the laws for themselves.
I didn’t realize how clever of a method it was. I just knew it was making me think. A lot. And because I didn’t trust my own logic and judgment, it made me nervous.
When I’d come to you with a set of questions or completed problems, ready for you to approve so I could move on to the next module, I remember thinking…
I hope I got the answers right.
I hope I don’t look stupid in front of you.
I hope I don’t let you down.
I remember you gently asking me to consider, once again, what was the difference between acceleration and velocity.
You knew how to talk to a fragile overachiever like me. You didn’t tell me I was wrong. You just asked me to “tighten up” my understanding.
You were also merciful to the class as a whole. I remember a time when our entire class failed a quiz. You stood at the room, your right hand clutching the frayed edges of notebook paper, and you said somberly, “Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is…everyone failed.”
A brief moment passed to let that information sink in.
“The good news,” you continued cheerfully, “is that you can take a second quiz to replace that awful grade!”
For you, there was never failure. There were just more opportunities to try again.
For you, it was never about arriving at a destination.
It was always about the journey.
I wish I could have seen it that way. I wish you could have brainwashed me completely into seeing the world as full of wonder and possibilities.
It makes me sad to admit it, but I held myself back in your class.
I wish I could have let go of my fear of getting a bad grade in order to really embrace the deeper mysteries that this universe holds.
But I was young and insecure. I defined myself by what I achieved. And if I didn’t achieve, who was I? What did I have to define myself?
And so, I wouldn’t allow myself to imagine a future in which I was uncertain of whether or not I would succeed. I wouldn’t take the risk of pursuing a career in science or math. Because I was convinced that eventually, people would realize that I was an impostor. It would all catch up with me and I would fail.
So instead, I would carve out a path on which I wouldn’t fail.
Because, after all, what was worse than failing?
I was young. I was insecure.
After high school, I stayed in touched with you because your son married my good friend, Linda. I saw you over the years at get-togethers at your house or Linda’s house, and each time, you were the same: smiling, laughing, joyful.
You still peppered your speech with intonation and emphasis that made a lot of what you were saying into either Great News! or A Good Joke!
You were always interested in what I had to say, no matter what I talked about. You were that way with everyone, I think, and it’s why people loved you. You cared about what people said. You didn’t just listen–you heard people. Maybe this was because you found joy, real joy, in the happiness of others.
This is partly what made you such a great teacher: You were able to see me as a whole, complicated, unique person, someone more than just the scared-of-math-and-science teenage girl sitting on the left side of your class from August 1999 to May 2000.
But your willingness to being authentic with me also helped me see you as a whole, complicated, unique person.
Reciprocity like that is rare. And it is powerful.
Last night, I had a dream. It was one of those recurring dreams that you feel like you’ve had hundreds of times before (and it’s a mystery to you why you’ve always forgotten about it in your waking life).
I was walking a perfectly paved path, high in the most beautiful, lush mountains I’ve ever seen. But it wasn’t cold. Even the highest peaks had no snow. As I walked that path, I was completely free of any responsibility that I’ve ever had. I was so untethered, I felt like I was floating.
I was so, so full of joy.
And the music. If I knew how to compose music, I could have written out all of the notes when I woke up this morning. But that memory is fading.
What stays with me from this dream is my certainty that I was coming back.
I had been there before. Many times.
And I was home among something beautiful and wild that had missed me as much as I had missed it. And my joy was coming from the realization that I had been away for so long on a journey that had taken me everywhere but here. That everything I needed to do and everything that people needed from me was completely finished.
But it was the journey that made my coming home so joyful. For how can you be as joyful to see something that you never left?
It was all those moments spent with my own students, from countries far and wide, who first awakened my own curiosity in other ways of seeing the world. The same ones who helped me open my mind to the fact that (shockingly) there were so many ways of seeing and living in the same world.
It was all the times I thought well, this well definitely be the thing that breaks me… and then it wasn’t.
It was all the happiness, the stories, the hugs, the missed chances, the blatant mistakes, the fights, the kisses, the stress, the doubts, and all the uncertainty of the journey…
That made coming home so joyful.
What happens when we die?
I used to be so certain of the answer to that.
I used to be so well-educated on all things spiritual, particularly in my senior year of high school. I had answers, and those answers were supported by carefully selected Bible verses.
But I’m being a lot more honest with myself these days.
And I’m willing to say, I don’t know.
What happens when we die?
During my morning runs this week, I thought about this over and over again.
If we are more than body, what happens to us? Where do we go? Do we travel to some higher dimension that we can’t possibly imagine with our three-dimensional brain? Will I return to this heaven in the mountains, some strange place that calls to me for reasons I don’t understand? Do we review our lives in retrospect, weighing everything we’ve done? Do we wait between worlds until we feel ready to move on? Are we re-united with the ones we’ve lost? Or do we lose all sense of self and join a larger, higher consciousness? And what would that even be like?
I thought a lot as I ran.
And then clarity hit me.
I was finally doing the thing that you were trying to teach me.
I was wondering.
I was in wonder.
I was allowing myself to not have the answers. To allow myself to live in the space of uncertainty. And I was doing it without thinking of myself as a failure.
Isn’t that what you were trying to teach us the whole time?
To wonder? To think?
To allow yourself to not have the answers, but by God, to think about it.
Sometimes, clarity hits you in odd ways.
Sometimes, it comes to you as you think about a loved one passing.
Sometimes, it seems almost supernatural.
Because when I slowed to a walk during one of my morning runs, I looked over at the sign for the apartment complex down the street. Lots of things around here are named “Normandy.” Normandy United Methodist Church. Normandy Elementary. Normandy Ridge Road.
But in that moment, the sign of the apartment complex was partially covered.
And all I saw was,
It was my honor to have met you in life. I hope we meet again, if that’s what happens when we die.
If you see my dad (You can’t miss him. He’s about 6′ 3″, mostly bald, and he’ll be wearing a short-sleeved dress shirt, tucked into his swim trunks, which he calls his wrestling todds), please tell him that I’d give anything to listen to one of his annoying political rants, even if it meant hearing the words Make America Great Again hundreds of times–as long as he makes me his Famous Thresherman’s Breakfast when he’s done.
Four years later. Still hard.
One of my father’s favorite songs was, “Daystar.”
He particularly loved it as sung by our small church’s music minister, Darrell Sproles.
Lily of the Valley,
Let your sweet aroma fill my life
Rose of Sharon show me
How to grow in beauty in God’s sight
Fairest of ten thousand
Make me a reflection of your light
Daystar shine down on me
Let your love shine through me in the night
When it was sung at his funeral in June 2014, it meant a lot to me that my name was in the first few lines.
If I could talk to him now, what would I say?
After I’m sorry for ever causing you pain and I love you,
I probably would tell him that his grandchildren would have loved to have known him.
He always had a very tender way with kids aged 2-5.
Love you, Dad.
Maybe it started when I fell while I was running.
That was June 1st.
Maybe that’s when this rough patch started.
While jogging in the dark, my foot must have caught on a piece of raised sidewalk and I fell forward and hit the concrete just as a minivan was passing me.
Left knee, right knee, left hand, right hand. I saved my face. (At least physically.)
The minivan kept going.
For a moment, I just lay there against the concrete, gauging my pain.
I hurt. But I didn’t think I had broken anything. I couldn’t see how badly I was scraped up, but I felt it mostly on the outer edge of my left hand and my right thumb, which was warm and wet. Blood, for sure.
What else to do but keep jogging home with bleeding hands?
I’ve only had a few dreams of my dad since he passed away three years ago, but they’ve always come around this time of year.
In the first dream, I walked into a convenience store and was looking for a jug of milk to buy. (Who knows why. I hate drinking milk.) After I pulled it out of the refrigerator case, I saw four men sitting at a small booth, playing a card game. All their heads were lowered, studying their cards.
I walked over and even though I couldn’t see their faces, I just knew that one of them was my dad. I don’t remember what I said to him, but we talked like we always did — our eyes looking at other things, words passing between us that didn’t really resemble anything like what we really wanted to say.
Like, I miss you.
Like, I love you.
Still, whatever we said was comfortable and familiar enough to make us feel like all was well.
It was then that I realized that my ride was leaving.
“I have to go, Dad.”
“Don’t leave,” he told me, still not looking up. Still staring through his cards.
I kissed him on the head, complete with his bald spot, and I told him that I would come back.
“It will be too long. I don’t want to be alone,” he said.
“I swear, I’m coming back, Dad.”
He didn’t lift his head. He just sat there, sad and withdrawn, just as he did for the last few years of his life. Completely alone, even in the midst of company.
I kissed his head again and walked toward the door.
When I got to the door, I turned around and told him, “This is where we can meet, okay? This is where we can find each other. I’ll come back. I promise.”
I woke up feeling empty.
I’ve never been able to get back to that convenience store.
A few nights ago, as the anniversary of his death approached again, I dreamed again of my father.
It was a scene I’ve lived a thousand times before — riding in the car next to my dad, his left hand balanced casually on the steering wheel, his elbow resting on the edge of his open window. He was talking a mile a minute about everything and anything, the way he did when he descended into periods of mania. At first, it was normal. Just dad talking and talking and talking while I was looking out the window.
Then, it started to snow. And snow. And snow.
The drifts piled up around the car as we drove. But then he veered into the parking lot of the K-Mart in the town where I grew up. He started driving in a circle, talking faster and faster, the tires kicking up snow around us. I told him to slow down, but he wouldn’t. As the car picked up speed, we spiraled once, twice, three times, four times.
With each pass, I tried to keep my eyes on a fixed point outside of the car. The McDonald’s. The apartment building. The ATM. Anything that would keep me anchored to reality.
Maybe, if I could keep my eyes on something, I could slow us down.
Maybe, this time, I could be the one to anchor both of us.
Maybe, this time, I could keep the world from spinning, keep him from sliding into depression, keep him from falling and breaking his neck.
But we kept spinning and spinning and spinning.
In my dream, I started screaming.
And then I was beside my mother, and we were looking at a calendar. She wrote down her birthday, May 9th. But then she crossed out the 9th and wrote in dark letters, May 10th and underlined it.
“What year?” I asked.
She wrote “1” and “9” very easily, but then struggled to write the next number. It came out looking like a gigantic “9” and then a “0.”
“1990?” I asked.
She shrugged. “Sure. It all kind of blends together.”
And somehow, I understood that we were deciding when we would go back in time.
We were trying to get back to a time when Dad was Dad.
I woke up a few hours later and went for a morning run in the dark.
Because I’m a glutton for punishment? Maybe.
I prefer to say it’s because I refuse to be beaten by a bad experience (although, there are plenty of times when I am).
It was beautiful that morning. The moon was full and still high in the sky at 5:00 a.m. I watched the sidewalk much more carefully than before and walked for a few minutes before I started jogging.
The Head and the Heart played on my Pandora station.
Darling, this is when I met you.
For the third time not the last
Not the last time we are learning
Who we are and what we were.
You are in the seat, beside me.
You are in my dreams at night.
it’s easier to run with bleeding hands than it is to run with tears.
I’m like a lot of people — I only want to believe that dreams mean something when they’re good.
I don’t want to believe that the bad dreams mean anything more than the emotions that I’m working my way through when I have them.
My absolute worst fear is suffering the death of one of my children.
I can imagine coming to grips with the death of anyone in my life.
Except my children.
Last Friday, I was reading my Facebook feed and read a horrific post from a member of my church.
Her daughter-in-law, Britney, was driving on a two-lane road with her five-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, and two-month-old son, Jonah, in the backseat.
You already know how this story ends.
An oncoming car illegally crossed the center to pass a car.
It killed the little girl.
The mother and baby boy survived.
In the picture, Jocelyn was balancing on one foot, as if in the midst of dancing. She was posed proudly with her baby brother. Smiling. Blond and smiling. Happy. Just like my daughter.
There at my desk, I cried.
Britney was me. Her kids were my kids.
And my heart was broken for her.
All of this happened just days before Mother’s Day.
It was too cruel and unfair for one person to bear.
How could Britney face life and the world, now knowing, now feeling every day, that horrific things like that can happen?
Just like that.
How could she keep going?
But of course I know how.
We all know how.
She’s a mother.
This is stuff that mothers are made of.
Loving through pain.
Living while part of you is dying.
Believing through despair and doubt.
Resiliency beyond measure.
Pure grit and strength.
Britney has already undergone several surgeries to repair her broken bones, including her pelvis. She has been moved out of the ICU and into the trauma unit. (And let’s not forget the fact that she’s just three months postpartum.)
Her newborn son also suffered extensive injuries. Two broken femurs and a broken arm.
He is currently being cared for around the clock by his grandmother, Lanae, who works as a surgical nurse. He couldn’t be in better hands while his mother is recovering.
I made myself imagine what I would do if I were living Britney’s reality.
What would I do?
I would sob and ache and grovel and resent and rage.
For a Long Time.
I would lash out and blame and despair.
I would be out for blood. I would crave Revenge. I would want to hurt and crush and obliterate. I would want to empty the life of the person who didn’t think first, who would rather take a risk, who thought the laws didn’t apply to him.
(Because I think first. Because I don’t want to take the risk. Because I don’t think the laws don’t apply to me.)
And while I would be going through this, I would still have to Get Back Up.
Although I would want to take time off from Life to mourn and process and make meaning, I would have to immediately Get Back Up.
For my son.
Because he would still need to eat and sleep and grow.
He would still need my arms to tell him that he is safe, even though I had just seen how unsafe the world can be.
I would need to decide every hour to keep on practicing the appearance of Love even though I’d be simultaneously steeling my heart from the possibility of Future Pain.
Because Love would have just killed off a part of me.
Love had created a trove of beautiful moments of my little girl — but now there would be no more. And the more time that would pass, the more those memories would lose their clarity. And if I forgot any part of those memories, it would be like losing her all over again.
All I really would want to do is climb into the ground with her so she wouldn’t be alone in the dark.
I would be like this for a Long Time.
But I also know that One Day, through the crisis and search to find meaning, I would finally choose Love again.
Because Love is the only path to Peace.
I would keep walking.
I used to pray that Life Would Be Okay and Get Better. But I’ve stopped doing that.
Because that’s not what Life is for. The life worth living isn’t a life without pain because the pain is what shows us life’s worth.
When I say prayers now, it is in moments for others who are in pain.
And the prayer is that they keep moving
And keep walking through the pain
And that if they fall, that God will reach a Hand down to help them get back up.
Our hearts ache with yours in your time of hurting and grieving. My prayer for you is that you keep walking through the pain. Keep moving. And keep believing that there is good in the world even though it is also so very bad at times. In fact, perhaps the world is good because it is bad.
Years from now, I hope that you can look back at these dark hours of your life and see all the light that people are shining on it. It’s always the people who have suffered and cried and walked the Path of Pain that will be the first to reach out their hands to you. Take those hands. Let them help you get back up. And don’t feel guilty about it. You are not a burden.
Because Some Day, it will be you who is the one reaching out and saving someone else.
You are not alone.
And you are Loved.
If you would like to help this family financially as they cope with medical and funeral expenses, you can contribute through their GoFundMe fundraiser here.
No gift is too small and you can give anonymously if you prefer.
If you would like to provide financial assistance to Lanae as she takes care of Jonah full-time, you can donate here.
When I was five years old, my family’s house burned down. To the ground. What was left was a smoky, black carcass that used to be our home. I still remember returning to the site where our home once was.
I didn’t understand. Not really.
We walked through the safest part of the site, our toes nudging burnt, sooty items. A comb. A jacket. That one stuffed animal that looked like a cat, but was really a mouse.
The smell. Oh. The smell. I will never, ever forget that smell. Smoke and soot and water and grass.
While our house was still on fire, flames still clawing at the windows, the fire trucks and ambulances arrived. I saw my oldest brother, Phillip, throw my youngest sister, DeAnna, from a window on the right side of the house. A firefighter caught her. She was just a toddler. I can still see her sobbing there against the backdrop of flames, wobbling on rubbery legs.
I saw my father climbing out of a second-story window, still in his T-shirt and boxers.
I wasn’t thinking about where my other brother and sister were.
I remember thinking,
“I wonder when the fire will be over so we can go home.”
I remember thinking,
“Mom is so going to be so mad when she comes home to see this.”
That’s the way a five-year-old thinks.
My mother worked as a part-time cake decorator for a grocery store on Saturdays. I never knew who called her that day. Someone had to make that call. I wonder now what was it like to put aside the bag of icing that she had been using to decorate a cake for someone else’s celebration… only to pick up the phone to hear that her world was on fire.
That night, we stayed in some stranger’s home.
I don’t remember the people, but they lived in a large, well-kept home in old North Dayton, presumably a family who had signed up to provide temporary housing through the Red Cross.
In the middle of the hardwood floor of their living room was a large, oval, braided rug. While my mother talked to the homeowners, my eyes traced the outer edge of the oval rug, around and around and around. Until it ended in the center.
I wondered what was there in the center, holding it all together.
Someone handed out some canvas bags from the Red Cross. Five bags. One for each of us. The homeless kids.
Inside, there were crayons and a coloring book. A toothbrush and toothpaste. Some soap. A towel. There might have been a T-shirt and sweatpants. I don’t remember for sure.
But I remember the smell of those bags. Sterile.
Like the smell of the hospital where we had just been. Where I had just seen my father hack and cough black mucus into a beige dish just minutes before he was officially discharged.
I remember holding that canvas bag, thinking that it was the only thing in the world that was mine.
Hoping that my parents could afford to buy it for me.
And then the surprise and gratitude when I realized that we didn’t need to pay.
We went to church, and the Sunday School teacher looked at me with wet eyes. In her quiet, shaky voice, she told me that everything was going to be just fine.
She pulled out some paper figures from a crinkled envelope. They were dressed in robes and sandals. One of them fell to the ground and I picked it up, feeling the fuzz on the back side. Then, she handed all the figures to me and I helped her arrange them on the felt board as she told the story of the Good Samaritan.
My child, here is what I want to tell you.
Believe in the goodness of people.
Certainly, not every person will be good to you. Some will bully you. Some will mock you. Some will see you hurting and walk to the other side of the road to avoid you.
Do not expect kindness and empathy from those who have never suffered. Too often, they will find a way to either minimize your pain or blame you for what has happened to you. In their eyes, it will always be your fault. And if they cannot blame you for what you have done, they will blame you for what you have not done.
You really didn’t have it that bad. You should have tried harder. You should have asked. You should have done this. You should have done that.
But always, always, always remember this:
As long as there is injustice and trauma and pain and tragedy in this world, there will be empathy.
Because those who have lost and suffered and cried and bled will be the first to reach out to you when you need help.
Every. Single. Time.
Do not wish away misfortune and pain.
Because a life without either of those is a life without true empathy.
And empathy is what has kept the human race from extinguishing itself.
Have faith, my child.
Paradoxes abound in a world where we lean on logic to make sense of the hard times.
This world is good because sometimes it is bad.
Goodness and tragedy can exist at the same time.
God is both light and darkness. Fullness and emptiness. The loud, booming voice and the stillness beside you.
It is all so hard to understand now. Even as you grow and learn and experience, it is still hard to understand. Even I don’t understand it.
But my prayer for you is that you remain open. That you are always looking for more answers. That you never feel that you have arrived at the truth. Because your truth is not someone else’s truth.
But that doesn’t mean Truth doesn’t exist.
Some of us are lucky enough to have a life that gets better and better, from beginning to end. As Americans, that is what feels normal and right and just.
But the truth is, most of us don’t.
The truth is, much of the time, we don’t get what we want.
Most of us struggle. We fall. We’re pushed back. We lose. We become sick. We grieve.
And this can make us feel that something has gone tragically wrong. It can make us feel that life is unfair and has no meaning. It can drive us to determine that God isn’t real.
How could God be real when there is so much suffering in this world?
How could God be real when I am suffering so much?
What I want you to understand is that believing that life always improves from beginning to end is an illusion. In fact, some cultures in the world do not plot life’s path as a line, rising at equal intervals, ever into the horizon.
Instead, they see life as a spiral.
A constant moving away and returning.
Moving away from what matters.
Returning to what matters.
Moving away from truth.
Returning to truth.
Around and around and around.
Until we arrive at the center.
Until we return to God.
What you’ll learn as you walk this path of life is that over and over again, every time you return, you will be caught by the hand of God.
That hand of God is your mother’s voice when you come home with a broken heart.
It’s the friend who sits with you at your father’s funeral.
It’s the doctor who tells you that there is no heartbeat. But it’s not your fault.
It’s the teacher who tells you that everything’s going to be just fine, even when her eyes say otherwise.
It’s the non-profit organization that steps in with a bag of normalcy on a very strange day.
It’s the stranger who opens their home to you when you’ve lost everything.
My child, be that hand of God.
Be the one who gives and comforts and heals.
As Mother Teresa has said…
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
My child, welcome to this wonderfully complex, sometimes painful, but always beautiful world. It is my hope for you that when you face the hard times, that you are still able to see the larger Truth.
With all my love,
December 16, 2016
I recently wrote you in regard to the Heartbeat Bill, which was part of HB 493. I’m so very glad that you line-item vetoed it. I understand that you had different reasons than me for disapproving of it. Your rationale for your veto was based on the likelihood that the law would be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, as was the case in laws passed in North Dakota and Arkansas.
But, as you wrote in your statement, you have “a deep respect for the pro-life community and their ongoing efforts in the defense of unborn life.”
You presumably demonstrated this respect for unborn life by taking a different action.
You signed into law a 20-week abortion ban. With no exceptions for rape or incest. And very limited provisions for abortions that endanger the life of the mother.
On its face, this law can seem more reasonable than the Heartbeat Bill. After all, 20 weeks? That’s five months of pregnancy. What kind of woman waits that long to make the decision to have an abortion? And what about all those pictures of aborted 20-week-old babies? Awful. Just awful.
Certainly, such a ban stops the most atrocious acts of violence that are being committed against thousands of innocent, unborn children?
But this rationale is a myth.
It’s not grounded in reality.
I read the Ohio Department of Health’s 2014 report on induced abortions. If you pay attention, a quite different picture of a typical 20-week abortion emerges from this report. Here are some quick facts:
Those are facts, collected and compiled from your own state agency.
In other words, only 1 abortion in the state of Ohio was performed on a fetus that could have survived outside of its mother’s womb.
Unfortunately, the exact reasons that women obtain abortions after 20 weeks has not been widely studied, possibly because they make up only 2% of total abortions in the United States. (Even though they garner the most public outcry.)
But let me point out one clear reason why some women have abortions at 20 weeks.
It is at this point that some women first find out that their child will not survive outside of the womb. They have anencephaly (no brain) or bilateral renal agenesis (no kidneys) or severe omphalocele (all organs are growing outside of the body).
This is the reality of the 20-week abortion ban: It means that next year women who would have chosen to end their pregnancies because their child was not going to survive, now have no choice about how to deal with their grief.
They must carry their dying babies as long as their bodies will allow and as long as their babies’ hearts continue to beat.
Yes, I know. Some women have told you remarkably moving stories about how they persevered through their grief and gave birth to their babies and held them for a few hours before they passed away in their arms. Their stories are regarded by many as both honorable and heroic. Even in the certainty of tragedy, these women pressed on and allowed their children the great blessing of being born into this world. Even though they died shortly afterward.
These experiences are beautiful stories. And for some women, these experiences are the major catalyst for their own healing.
But–and this is truly, truly important–not every woman grieves in the same way.
Grief is personal. It is highly dependent on our individual personalities and coping mechanisms.
What I am saying is this: We should not create one acceptable path for how women are allowed to process the grief that follows the devastating knowledge that their child will not survive after birth.
It is no less motherly to want to end your child’s suffering inside the womb so he will never know a life of pain. It is no more motherly to carry your child to term and hold him in your arms as he passes.
They are just different ways of grieving.
But this 20-week abortion ban takes away one of those options.
Now, women who are carrying babies with terminal diagnoses will have no choice about how to deal with their grief.
Can you imagine what it feels like to carry impending death with you? Everywhere you go? Every moment of your life?
Can you imagine just trying to live a normal life, without having to remember every moment of it that your child is dying? Even as your body continues to grow and grow?
Can you imagine trying to go about your day without bursting into tears when someone tells you “congratulations?”
Can you imagine all the strangers’ comments, every day, all day? How far along are you? What are you having? Is this your first? Are you excited? You look great! Do you have the baby’s room ready?
Can you imagine trying to get out of conversations about the pregnancy? Because you don’t really want to explain the whole situation to your mechanic. Or the cashier. Or the visitor at your church.
And every time, feeling that you are just betraying your child once again.
Can you imagine the tension of wanting your child’s life to end so you can finally move on?
Can you imagine the unspeakable guilt? Can you imagine these feelings that you don’t dare utter aloud because people will think that you don’t love your child?
Can you imagine your absolute rage that you have become a prisoner to your own body, stamped and approved by the country that you love, but whose laws you so passionately disagree with?
Can you imagine… reaching a point when you look for an alternative?
Maybe someone can help you out. Off the record. Maybe you could get this process going with some medications that you order on-line. Or maybe you could go to another state? Not Indiana. But maybe Pennsylvania?
That is how women find themselves looking at ways to have abortions at home. Without medical help.
That is how women die.
Governor Kasich, I don’t believe it is your intention to put women into such a situation. You seem to be a reasonable man, but perhaps a man who isn’t familiar with the perspective of pregnant women.
I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with my second child. At this stage, this pregnancy is consuming my life. I’m carrying around 35 extra pounds. I can’t breathe normally. I can’t eat a full meal. I can’t sleep comfortably. I pee about 18 times a day and constantly through the night. In every conversation that I have with strangers, they comment on my pregnancy. I cannot avoid it without being rude.
So I just take it.
As will these women who won’t be able to have abortions after 20 weeks.
To carry a pregnancy doesn’t just mean to keep living and breathing. It means that you slowly conform to the child. You let go and let go and let go. The child grows and grows and the only way to get through it is to surrender.
That is hard enough to do when you know your child is healthy and will very likely survive.
Can you imagine how hard that is to do for women who know their child is going to die?
Governor Kasich, I ask that you carefully consider the reality that this law will now have on women. We’re not talking about saving thousands of perfectly healthy babies from selfish, horrible mothers that want to kill them. We are talking about a group of women who are making the most incredibly difficult decision of their lives while immersed in grief.
Dayton, Ohio 45459
December 8, 2016
Governor John Kasich:
I am writing you in regard to House Bill 493, the “Heartbeat Bill”, which would ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks of gestation. There are no provisions for cases of incest, rape, or medical complications that put the mother’s life at risk. If this bill becomes law, once there is a heartbeat, no medical facility or clinic could perform an abortion.
I am truly shocked that this bill has passed both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate. But when I learned that this bill was tacked on to a larger bill that addressed child abuse, I just shook my head.
I am currently 33 weeks pregnant with my second child. I’m due in January 2017. Our first child turned three years old this past August.
I’m telling you this because I know what it means to carry the life of a child.
I grew up in a conservative Christian household. We attended a Southern Baptist Church. I went to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I memorized Bible verses in the AWANA program. I was quite good at that. When I was finally able to vote in 2000, I proudly voted a straight Republican ticket.
I was pro-life. I thought abortion was abhorrent. Women who had abortions must have been heartless, soulless, and godless. They needed to be saved from making the most dreadful, horrifying mistake of their lives. I believed that the U.S. Supreme Court needed to overturn Roe v. Wade. Only then would we be able to stamp out the evil of abortion across this country.
Abortion is murder. Plain and simple. And murder is a crime.
If she gets pregnant, she should suffer the consequences. If she wanted to have sex, she should have at least been responsible.
If she was raped, she shouldn’t make the child suffer. And are we even really sure that she was raped? Getting pregnant from a rape hardly ever happens.
Yes. I had those thoughts.
It was easy to hold these beliefs because they went unchallenged. I socialized mostly with other conservative Christians. At school, I viewed my classmates who weren’t Christians as “the lost.” They didn’t truly have a working moral compass. They needed to be saved.
And as an evangelical Christian, I should be the person who saved them.
I began my college career at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 2000. During my four years there, I met a lot of different people who did not grow up in the same conservative circles that I did. In conversations, I began to realize that some of my beliefs about social issues (same-sex marriage, poverty, race, abortion) were not automatically echoed and supported by others. I was challenged to think critically about my opinions. I was challenged to support what I believed.
I’m so very grateful for having been challenged.
Because I began to realize that the foundation upon which I was basing my beliefs on many issues was flimsy at best. What I had to support my opinions were soundbites that crumbled under the power of even the simplest of questions. Jesus never talked about abortion. But he sure talked a lot about caring for the poor and loving others. Especially those who were on the margins of society.
And then a thought occurred to me.
Why did I think it was my responsibility to restrict someone else’s choices?
Who was I to decide how someone else lived their life?
Was I so inherently right in my beliefs that what I thought about the world should be imposed on everyone else?
Once I posed those questions to myself, I was ashamed of how arrogant I sounded.
However, I have to admit that all of my changed beliefs about abortion were still vague abstractions that didn’t directly impact my life. I had never been pregnant. Privately, I wondered if being pregnant and giving birth would change my opinion yet again. Maybe I would revert to my pro-life stance of years past?
But I didn’t.
In fact, I am more pro-choice now than I have ever been.
Because now, I understand what it means to become a mother.
Becoming a mother is not strictly a physical test of endurance. It’s a mental and emotional marathon that not only requires sufficient financial resources, but also a social support network. Otherwise, you will completely implode.
My husband and I are firmly established in the middle class, yet we still found the costs of having a child to be quite burdensome. It cost us $3500 just to give birth in a hospital—and we had health insurance. We spent another $12,000 on car seats, furniture, diapers, formula, clothing, medicine, and other supplies. Because I wanted to return to work, it cost us another $11,000 per year for our child to be in daycare.
There were days in that first year of motherhood when I wasn’t sure that I could go on—and I wasn’t worried about the financial aspect. There were days when I wanted to be free of the constant 24/7 responsibility—and my husband and I had wanted this child.
Now, can you imagine being a 20-some-year-old single woman with a high school diploma, taking some college classes part-time while you work a job that might bring in $20,000 per year? That’s the most common portrait of a woman who gets an abortion in Ohio that emerges from the Ohio Department of Health’s 2014 report on induced abortions (p. 9).
Becoming a mother is a huge responsibility and it’s not one that we should force women to take on if they are not prepared to do so. At a time when Republicans want to slash spending on social programs, outlawing nearly all abortions would not only force unprepared, single women into motherhood, it would drive them into years of poverty as they struggle to not only provide for their children, but to do so with increasingly shrinking assistance from the government.
As I review the Ohio Department of Health’s 2014 report on induced abortions, what strikes me most is that the abortion restrictions in House Bill 493 do not seem to respond to the reality of abortion statistics in the state of Ohio. Here are some interesting facts that I gathered from this report:
In short, in the state of Ohio…
All of this information makes me question the purpose of the Heartbeat Bill, which now awaits your signature in order to become law.
Is it to decrease abortions?
I doubt it. They’re already decreasing.
Is it to protect women’s health?
Clearly not. Abortions are incredibly safe.
Perhaps passing this law is a moral endeavor?
We should not impose one group’s definition of morality over all residents of this state.
The best conclusion that I can draw is that this bill is purely political. It is a means to appease a vocal and staunchly pro-life segment of Ohio’s population at an opportune moment, presumably to give the U.S. Supreme Court a reason to revisit their decision on Roe v. Wade.
But let’s be honest here.
Many of the people who express such disgust for abortion will never, ever face a reality in which the Heartbeat Bill will ever affect them.
They are men. They are women who would never have an abortion because of their moral opposition. They are women past the age of childbearing. These groups of people can vociferously support anti-abortion laws with no consequence to themselves.
But I am a woman who is affected by this law. I’ve got skin in this game.
As I mentioned before, my husband and I wanted to have a child. We were responsible. We got married, started our professional careers, paid off debt, and made plans for when to have our first child. The importance of my right to have an abortion never occurred to me. After all, we were trying to get pregnant.
But as I held the sonogram pictures from our 20-week ultrasound for our first child, a terrifying thought struck me.
What if we had found out that our child had no brain? Or no kidneys? Or some other fatal abnormality? Would we have been able to have an abortion?
Truthfully, I didn’t know at the time if the state of Ohio had any abortion restrictions.
The thought scared me. That if we had received devastating news at that ultrasound, that my choices about how to deal with that news might be limited depending on where I lived.
I began to realize that, for me, preserving the right to have an abortion isn’t about “killing babies.”
For me, it’s about offering options for the grieving process.
When you already know that your child will not survive, you fall into this quagmire of grief. The last thing that you need is the government telling you what you can and cannot do in order to move through that grief. Some women find comfort in giving birth and holding their child for however long their child lives. Other women find comfort in ending their pregnancies in the womb, so their child will not be born into a short life of pain.
In Christmas 2015, I had to walk through that path of grief. At nine weeks of pregnancy, I watched the doctor show me our silent, motionless baby, floating on the ultrasound screen. No heartbeat. I do not have the exact words for how I felt in that moment. It was an awful feeling of denial, anger, sadness, guilt, and frustration.
I had the choice to either miscarry naturally or to have a D & C.
I waited for my body to miscarry naturally. But it wouldn’t let go.
After a week of carrying death inside of me, I just could not take it anymore. I wanted to move on. I wanted to let go. I was ready to move through my grief. I called my doctor and scheduled the D & C. The procedure was quick and uneventful. I had no complications. In five months, I was pregnant again.
But under this new law, if my baby still had a heartbeat, even if the diagnosis was terminal, I would not have been allowed to choose that same path. I would be forced to bear that grief for as long as my body wanted. Only then would the government be satisfied.
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that all women have a choice. And because of that ruling, no woman is forced to walk a path that she doesn’t want to. No one will make her have an abortion. No one will make her carry her child to term.
In the end, it’s the mother who bears the emotions of her choice. She is the one who cries the tears. Not the advocacy groups. Not the protesters. Not the government. She, alone, lives with her choice.
And with that in mind, I hope that you consider voices like mine above the voices of those who have no personal stake in this issue. Women like me are the ones who will be affected by this law.
I am not a baby killer. I don’t disrespect life. I don’t need to be taught a lesson in personal responsibility.
I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a Christian. I’m educated, thoughtful, responsible, and compassionate. I deserve to be trusted to make my own health decisions.
Please remember that as you make yours.
Dayton, OH 45459
The timing of this is not lost on me.
I started this pregnancy in May 2016 to the devastating news of the measly 3-month sentence of Brock Turner, a “man” from my own hometown of Dayton, Ohio. A man who raped an unconscious woman.
Then, the Harambe the Gorilla madness.
Then, a crocodile eating a toddler at Disney World.
Then, the Orlando mass shooting.
All of this set against the backdrop of this shitty election, the Syrian refugee crisis, and constant shootings of unarmed black Americans.
Now imagine having a full month of nausea day in and day out while living through this.
But we pulled through.
Once a Bernie Sanders supporter, I swallowed my pride and embraced Hillary.
I believed that Donald Trump would certainly crash and burn.
I think we all thought that.
And when Pussy Gate happened, I breathed a sigh of disgusted resolve.
Certainly, now, there is no way enough people can stomach the reality of voting for this numb-nuts. Look! Every decent Republican is withdrawing their support! They are finally saying he has crossed the line. They are showing that they care about women.
And then Election Night 2016 happened.
We bought pizza and champagne to usher in the first female President. We invited our friends over and we were festive. It’s like Christmas morning! we cheered.
And then Ohio was called.
We shouted. We felt betrayed by our own neighbors. We looked at the electoral map by county. The only blue counties were the ones with the major cities. Clear as day, you could see Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo.
And then we understood.
I’ve cried a box of tissues since this news broke.
I’ve had to look my international students in the eyes and tell them, without totally losing my composure: “No matter what anyone else says, I welcome you. I am not afraid of you. I think you matter. This is not the message that I am sending to the world. Please do not think that the way that Donald Trump acts is the way that Americans are.”
I’ve sat in my colleague’s cubicle, spilling my fears about the future, so thankful that she was willing to listen to me and tell me that she still believes in the goodness of people. (I love you, Jeri.)
I’ve cried all the way home from work, listening to gleeful Trump supporters on All Things Considered share their excitement that Trump was going to bring their jobs back (yeah, right) and build the wall (you seriously believe that?) and stop abortions (whatever).
I’ve cried on and off for hours, while my husband listened.
I told him that what hurts the most is that multiple facets of my identity and my values have been insulted by this man who now wants to lead me.
The pain is not coming from a different political party having power.
The pain is coming from being told that who I am (woman, academic, teacher) and what I value (diversity, humility, inclusivity, compassion) are worthy of insult.
I told my husband that I could barely keep from breaking into tears in front of my international students because I realized that I could no longer pretend that our country is the chief beacon of shelter and protection for those who are persecuted. For those who are striving to attain the civil rights that so many of us take for granted.
Canada is stepping into the shoes that we’ve kicked off and tossed into the face of the world. They are becoming the new face of a country of immigrants–and they’re doing it with compassion and community.
It’s ironic to me that so many white Americans are proud of their immigrant ancestry–yet they cringe at the thought of extending a warm welcome to today’s immigrants. They create these untrue historical narratives about our own ancestors. They say they gave up their culture and their language to become Americans. They say they came here “legally.”
But the truth is, we didn’t even have the vocabulary to consider immigration legal or illegal during the great immigrant influx of the 19th and early 20th centuries. (See Episode 47, “Give Me Your Tired…”) People just came. And we just took them. Because we needed them. The Civil War decimated our population. So did World War I.
And those immigrants took a long time to “Americanize.” They kept their home cultures for one or two generations. They spoke their native language. And they were scapegoated for problems in America, just like so many of us are doing today.
So “Make America Great Again?”
That’s a knife to my heart.
How far back should America go?
Should we go back to before women’s suffrage? Or forcing Native Americans off their land? Or Japanese internment camps?
Or how about those Leave it to Beaver days, which white Baby Boomers keep referencing with sweet, untainted nostalgia. You know. The days when black Americans were lynched for voting in the South and the Freedom Riders were attacked and killed.
“Make America Great Again” makes sense if you are a white Christian–and if you cannot imagine this country through the eyes of someone who isn’t like you.
It’s ignorant and myopic.
Donald Trump’s plans for “making America great again” creates a vision of America that looks like this:
20 million Americans stand to lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed.
11 million undocumented immigrants stand to be deported from their families and the lives they have built here.
3.3 million Muslim-Americans have been told that they are responsible for reporting “suspected terrorists” to the proper authorities. (Do we ask Christian-Americans to do the same? Did you just do a double-take of the word “Christian-Americans?” Did you stop to think about why?)
And this land of immigrants wants to completely shut its doors to 11 million Syrian refugees who are fleeing from ISIS. We’re completely content to turn our backs on our European allies who are struggling to figure out how to integrate millions of refugees.
I told my husband that I’m working through such immense grief about this election. That the last time that I can remember it being this hard to teach through my pain was on the day that my dad died.
And I still went in to teach.
I told my husband that our baby deserves better than this.
Better than sexism, racism, and xenophobia. And better than the rationales and excuses that his supporters make on behalf of this man who cannot control himself. (You’re the puppet! No, you’re the puppet!)
Better than fear-mongering and blaming and ignorance and hatred.
Childbirth is painful. Fucking painful. And I’m familiar with every bit of that physical pain because I did it without drugs.
But believe me when I say this: The physical pain of bringing this child into the world under this next American leader does not compare to the emotional pain that it brings.
Physical pain wanes. Emotional pain scars.
Emotional pain changes the landscape. It can make you callous and cynical. It can leave you hollow and numb. It can drive you to recklessness and disengagement. It can drain your expectations and your faith in others.
But there’s another side to emotional pain that survivors of trauma will unanimously tell you.
It can make you a fighter.
And every time I feel this baby pummel me in the ribs or the stomach, I know that I’m carrying a fighter.
My body, and thus this child, have been put through the wringer since the beginning of this pregnancy. At times, my anxiety has been high, but nothing like what I’ve experienced in the last two days. I can only imagine how much cortisol has been coursing through my system.
This morning, I strapped on the pregnancy belt and when for a third-trimester walk/jog. I was still hurt. Still pissed. Still angry.
Then, I started to notice something.
All the political signs were gone.
All the Trump signs that lined our street had been taken away.
And replaced with American flags.
I do not have words for the emotion that I felt in that moment.
But let me draw an analogy.
It was like being punched in the face. And then as my vision returned, seeing an outstretched hand for a handshake.
In the cold, morning light, I started sobbing.
I thought I was through the pain. But no. It’s still very much there.
Do you mean it? I wanted to ask my neighbors. Does your patriotism extend beyond self-preservation? Beyond white Christian America?
I wanted to kiss those American flags and set them on fire at the same time.
How could we all love this country so much and understand it so differently?
This is the complexity of living in a pluralistic democracy. This is the love and this is the pain. There are setbacks, but hope lives on.
I kid you not, as I walked this path of flags, crying into my hands, not caring if the neighbors saw, perhaps even hoping they would see, this song came up on my Pandora feed.
I’ve never heard it before. It’s called “After the Storm” by Mumford and Sons. Let me share the lyrics with you.
And after the storm,
I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
On my knees and out of luck,
I look up.
Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won’t rot, I won’t rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won’t rot.
And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.
But there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That’s why I hold,
That’s why I hold with all I have.
That’s why I hold.
I won’t die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I’ll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and man so small.
Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.
And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
Today, I have finally reached my enough point.
Enough crying. Enough sadness. Enough frustration and disillusionment.
Because my baby doesn’t deserve any of that either.
I remember what I once told myself on a desperate January morning in 2014.
When I woke up sick again.
For the third time in a month.
And my 6-month-old baby was sick.
And I still had to go to work.
And there was three inches of snow on the ground.
And I had an 8:00 a.m. class.
And my voice was gone.
Get up, I told myself. You are fucking fierce. You’ve been through worse. You’ve felt worse.
And I did.
But honestly, this time, I cannot do it alone. I’m going to need help. From my family. From my friends. Even from readers of this blog whom I’ve never met in person.
I’m going to need to feel your hands, pulling me up from the thick mud of this grief. I need to feel reassurance that many, many of us are still standing after this massive blow to all the American values that I hold close to my heart.
I need to hear you out there.
I need to know that we’re in this together.
That we are still moving forward.
To all current Millenial Parents out there and all those Millenials who will be parents in the next ten years, I say to you this:
We. Are. Next.
We are responsible for raising this next generation of children. What we teach them matters. How we talk about people who are different from us matters. Whether we are serious or joking, our children hear everything. They see what is acceptable and what is completely unacceptable.
And if our kids’ history textbooks whitewash away the pain and oppression that the ancestors of so many non-white Americans have suffered, it is our responsibility to tell those stories. Those stories matter. Those stories are America, too. Even if these stories are painful, we must tell them so that this next generation is equipped with the empathy that this country needs to engage in effective communication in a globalized world.
Let’s raise these kids to once and for all value everyone’s voice, not just the voices of those who have always been the loudest and most heard.
Let’s teach our kids that the road to our own prosperity shouldn’t be paved with the suffering of others.
And to White Millenials specifically, I say to you this:
Let’s stop churning out entitled white children who never interact with anyone of a different religion or race or language. That shit matters. It matters that our kids have friends who are different from them. Because when you have friends who are different from you, you stand up for your friends.
You don’t let people tell your friends that they aren’t what makes America great.
In 20 years, when the Baby Boomers have lost their political power and the Millenials shift the political landscape, let’s make certain that our children will not have to face an election like this ever again.
Are you with me?