Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Time to Mourn

Black Friday – this day has taken on an entirely new meaning for me. Yesterday our family celebrated the perfect Thanksgiving – my sister-in-law prepared a delicious meal and all of us gathered together in her warm and lovely home. My grandbabies were so adorable I had to pinch myself to believe they were really mine, and my older grandson looked so handsome and grown up. It was a day that will live in my memory as one of the very best!

I arrived home early in the evening, and proceeded to begin my Christmas decorating – treasuring the memories as I unpacked each ornament – my St. Nicholas collection, my tiny birds, and my tree decorations so lovingly chosen through the years. By bedtime, my home was transformed.

This morning my daughter and daughters-in-law hurried out to enjoy the Black Friday sales, and I had a bit of time with my sons and grandbabies. It began as a totally relaxing and enjoyable morning.

However, within a few moments in time, our Friday indeed turned “Black”. My son’s best friend, a “son of the heart” to me, lost his father to suicide. A sudden death is always a shock and heartbreak, but this was especially painful, both because of the tragic circumstances, and because this family has also lost two beloved grandmothers within the past two years.

When we are fortunate enough in life to share close bonds of friendship and love, we also share the deep sorrows that go along with these bonds. My son is grieving tonight for a man who treated him like a son, and my daughter grieves for this “almost brother” who has lost his father. I grieve for the intense agony of this entire family, who, through the years, has become so dear to me. And, as we always do in these situations, I wonder if there was anything I could have done at any point to help this troubled man.

Last year on this same day, Black Friday, my daughter lost an “almost brother” in a tragic motor vehicle accident – his sisters were her best friends, and even though an entire year had passed, in her heart today she was also reliving that tremendous loss. Tonight I want to hold my daughter and comfort her for both of these terrible losses in her young life – and yet I know this is not a pain I can “kiss away.”

Unfortunately, there are so many times in life when there is nothing we can do, other than to be close by – to listen and reassure, to give hugs and hold hands, and to cry and grieve along with those we love -- and to place our troubled hearts into the gentle hands of God.

It will also be a long time, I’m sure, before my daughter and I will be able to look forward to Thanksgiving without worrying about the day after, which has over the past two years become our virtual “Black Friday”.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh What A Night!!


I have agonized over the election this year because of my personal economic situation, and my total disillusionment with Republican administrations during the past thirty years, from Reagan to Bush to Bush!

When Al Gore lost to George Bush in 2000, I was devastated, and the past eight years of “George W reign” has justified my worries a hundred-fold – the loss of our civil rights, the loss of our respect on a global basis, the unjust war in Iraq, the blurring of lines between executive, legislative & judicial branches which has damaged the checks & balances system of our government, and now, the economic meltdown.

I also must admit - and I don’t think it is a bad characteristic – when I first heard Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic Convention and was so totally inspired by him, I didn’t “see” his color. In general, I don’t see people “in color”, which is probably unusual when I grew up in a town that was known as a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) community. As I learned more about Obama, I respected his intelligence, depth of thought, calm demeanor, and empathy for the common people of this world. I wanted him to be our President. I don’t think the fact that Obama was an African-American really became important to me until he won the primary. Then I began to worry that the inherent racism in this country might cause him to lose the election.

It was about at the same time that I began to think what a wonderful role model he would be for the African-American youth of our country, who often see no real opportunities in their futures. But, still, I didn’t “get it”. I didn’t realize what a powerful event his election would be for our citizens of color.

Last night I was watching avidly for election results, my nerves on edge, but it became a much more emotional night than I had expected. Watching the crowds and listening to the interviews, I was awed by the tremendous jubilation of his supporters, especially African-Americans. As I saw Jesse Jackson standing in the Chicago crowd with tears streaming down his face, and listened to the incredulous joy of generations of African-Americans, I finally realized that this victory was not just a victory of Democrat over Republican; it was finally a validation that we are all created equal and that there is now opportunity in this country for the tiniest little child of African-American or Arab or Asian or Hispanic descent to reach the loftiest heights that at one time were open only to white males. Oh what gates have been opened --

May God Bless America and our newly elected President and Vice-President!!