Relief in the Midst of Grief

This has been a difficult week for Americans. Two cultural heroes – one, a beloved African American songstress and the other, a highly-respected lawmaker – were eulogized.

The airwaves were dominated by footage showing Aretha Franklin in all her glory, singing songs we all love, and Sen. John McCain doing his work as a senator. We heard descriptions of who these two cultural giants were and were reminded of the great contributions they gave to this country, this world, and therefore, to us.

For a week, though we mourned, we could breathe, because, for the first time since the 2016 presidential election, the airwaves were not completely dominated by presidential drama and politics.

The vitriol, the endless offerings of opinion by political pundits, the assault on our spirits caused by the nastiness of this political season was forced to the periphery of the news cycles. When we looked up this week, we would see either Aretha Franklin’s face and hear her amazing musical talent, or we would see the face of Sen. McCain and hear how he cherished his work as a senator and as a man who loved country over party.

It was a relief.

On Friday, though there were news teases offered all day long, many stations carried the funeral of Aretha. It was classic Black Church – comforting and empowering in its delivery of music and hope. Though the funeral lasted most of the day, our spirits were exposed to music and stirring tributes delivered by people who knew and loved this woman.

On Saturday morning, the reprieve continued, as cable news stations showed the McCain family standing at the bottom of the Capitol Building’s hundreds of steps, awaiting the coffin of Sen. McCain to be brought to its hearse. We were “taken” with the family and the hearse to the Vietnam War Memorial where we watched Cindi McCain place a wreath in honor of soldiers who had served and died in the war that resulted in McCain spending five years as a prisoner-of-war, and then “we” went to the National Cathedral for the senator’s funeral.

The funeral took up the morning; we listened to music and to stirring tributes to Sen. McCain. There was no vitriol. There was nobody stating an obvious lie about something and demanding that we believe it. There was no headshot of a president who craves media attention even as he lambasts the media as being an “enemy of the people” which produces “fake news.”

We had peace this week in the midst of the sorrow of two families.

The current administration has drawn on the nerves of the American people, yes, but also on the nerves of people from all over the world who have been dumbfounded by the antics of the president. It has been troubling to see what is going on and how the Congress has allowed it; in spite of people declaring their love for America and democracy, what has been going on feels like our democracy is being attacked and compromised, steering us toward a totalitarian state. It is difficult to watch in and of itself for those who cherish democracy, but even more so as we look at the Congress capitulate to the threats, name-calling, and bullying of this man, seemingly unaware of how their lack of action is putting our democracy in jeopardy.

This administration has been like a soap opera; we wait on a daily basis to see what the president has tweeted; we brace ourselves for the next untruth he says; we know that the assault on sanity will be as negative as are the plots in soap operas which keep people watching, waiting for the next “episode.”

The American government is not supposed to be a soap opera or a reality show. It is supposed to be the vehicle or vessel which directs our paths and helps us navigate the challenges of life.  The constant drama does the opposite; instead of feeling secure, we are assaulted on a daily basis with confusion, lies and unnecessary drama.

This week we mourned the loss of two people we loved, gone way too soon, and we were allowed to share in ceremonies celebrating their lives. We were allowed to grieve but we were also allowed to breathe in something other than the toxic fumes being emitted by a toxic administration.

In the midst of ongoing political confusion, the deaths of two celebrated Americans allowed us to forget the craziness that we have endured daily for almost two years.  I would bet that for many, the break in the confusion was a welcome change, in spite of the fact that it was brought about by the deaths of two people whom we deeply loved and respected.

A candid observation…

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