What I Really Want to Say

            This political season has caused almost unbearable stress for the country and for some individuals – like me.

            I  am glad the former administration was voted out, but I am angry about the debacle that happened between the election and the inauguration of President Biden. The day Biden’s victory was confirmed, people took to the streets to celebrate, COVID-19 notwithstanding. It reminded me of the munchkins who danced in “The Wizard of Oz” after the Wicked Witch of the West was melted – or something – after Dorothy threw a bucket of water on her. 

            How the munchkins celebrated! And so did Americans when the final result of the election was reported.

            But then the foolishness – the evil foolishness- started. The Big Lie. The court cases. The performances by so-called attorneys. The call to martial law. Our dancing of celebration stopped and once again, we – or at least I – found myself wound up, worried, and restless.

            Social media is a good place to vent but I cannot really vent the way I want to. I cussed out loud the day of the insurrection. I cuss when I see and hear how the “justice system” is letting many of those accused and arrested for their part in the insurrection get bailed out. Whenever Mitch McConnell speaks, my stomach turns. If I have cable news on (which is rare and will continue to be so) and the anchors are talking about “the former guy” (thank you, President Biden, for this perfect moniker!) I mute the television.

            On my Twitter feed, there are things that I see which make me want to write out my basest thoughts, like “I hate …” and I fill in the name of the person of whom I am thinking. As I watch Marco Rubio jump from place to place, issue to issue, trying to land, I groan. His recent claim that he is pro-union made my disrespect for him deepen even more. I not only laughed out loud, I cussed a little louder than usual. (https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/marco-rubio-amazon-union-alabama-oped-woke-capital.html) I cringe as I hear Republicans (and now, Gov. Cuomo) use the term “woke,” like they know what it is. They do not. And when I hear Republicans – political and civilian – use the phrase “cancel culture,” I want to sit them down and talk about what it really is to be canceled in this country.

            I watched Nikki Haley jump from lily pad to lily pad, one day supporting the former guy and the next day wanting to be back in his good graces, asking permission to visit him at Mara Lago – to which he said no and I could not swallow my disgust. Where is her dignity? Where is the dignity of any of these sycophants who have made the former guy a god on earth?

(https://www.politico.com/interactives/2021/magazine-nikki-haleys-choice/)

            Then there is Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose antics and arrogance are beyond ludicrous.

            I want to say things like, “the Republicans have no souls” as they continue to spread the Big Lie and other little lies and do absolutely no viable work in Congress, wasting taxpayer dollars by making “Dr. Seuss” books their points of conversation and outrage. I want to say “I hate Mitch McConnell” as he tries to assert the power he did for years, blocking bills that would have helped millions of Americans have easier lives and I cuss in my house as I read reports of how Republicans, none of whom voted for the American Rescue Act of 2021 are now trying to save their political butts by touting the good it will do for their constituents. I want to say that the Republican Party is the party of racists, that it is a party that has no vision except that of stoking, nurturing and incubating the racial fears that so many white people have. I want to say, as I listen to how the former guy really was in cahoots with Russia when it came to trying to manipulate the 2020 election, and I want to say, “I hope you get found out. I hope you get arrested. And I hope you go to jail.” When I hear that the former guy is intent on exacting revenge against Republicans who had the courage to cross him, I want to write what we all know: that if you dig a hole for someone else, you very well may fall into it, and I want to say that exacting revenge is just stupid.

            As I watch the clips of all that happened on January 6, I want to say that those who touted “Blue Lives Matter” were and are hypocrites because their actions clearly showed they don’t care about police officers at all. When I see pictures of the insurrectionists climbing up the exterior of the Capitol Building, when I see the pictures of them breaking windows of the Capitol, I still shake with fury, but when I see them carrying American, Confederate, and Trump flags, claiming to be patriots, I cuss and when I hear that they attacked police officers with American flags, I say things that I will not write here. When I heard Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc) say that he wasn’t afraid of the insurrectionists because he could see that they were patriots who loved their country, but that if the group had been members of Black Lives Matter or Antifa, he would have been worried, I called him a racist and when he denied he was a racist, (of course he did that), I put an adjective in front of “racist.”

            As I watch the Republicans cow-tow to the former guy, I want to say that the Republicans are cowards, with no morals and no ethics – and I want to add that their spinelessness is disgusting.  As I watch and have watched people defy wearing masks as a means of helping to stem the spread of COVID-19, I want to say, “I hope you get the virus, but I hope you don’t go to the hospitals where health care workers have been working their buns off for over a year, trying to keep people alive.”  When some of the former guy’s administration got COVID-19, I wasn’t sorry, and I cannot even describe the fury I felt when I learned that the former guy and his wife got the vaccine in private to protect them from the virus he called a hoax, a barrage of words came out of my mouth. I renewed and reviewed my opinion of him as being weak, dishonest, and hypocritical, and also reviewed my opinion that over 500,000 people have died from COVID 19 because of his lack of leadership. The fact that he sneaked and got his virus before he left office just affirmed my opinion.

            Then there are the actions of the Republicans to suppress the right to vote of Black people, and as I think about that, my cussing increases exponentially. The audacity and the arrogance of these people is astounding. I want to say, “Y’all cannot win unless you cheat.” I want to say, “Y’all have no compassion or capacity to care about anything other than your own fear of Black and brown people having their voices heard and their needs met.” 

            Oh, there’s more, but I don’t want to dump it all on anyone who might read this. But like Fannie Lou Hamer said, I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am tired of white supremacy. I am tired of white folks who whine and cry and cheat in order to win elections. I am tired of racists saying they are not racist. I think folks should own their racism so we can stop fooling around with this “American exceptionalism” myth. The only thing America is exceptional at is holding onto and incubating its belief in white supremacy.

            One more thing: everyone knows that if the Democrats are going to help make the crooked places straight, – i.e., get their policies passed – then they have to use the power that they have now. This wrangling by some over not bothering the filibuster is insane. Their indecision makes me cuss out loud. I think they should remember Mitch McConnell, and know that if the tables were turned, he would do whatever he wanted in order to get his agenda passed. It’s what he did while he was majority leader. The Democrats should, as Joe Scarborough once said, “fight like the Republicans.”

            That’s all for today. I feel better. I got some of it out.

            Thank you for reading these candid exclamations.

Best Friends, Gone

Three weeks ago, I did the funeral for my best friend. She had been ill for a while; she had checked out of life twice in the past three years and had been revived.  Though she had been sick, I thought she’d beat this last bout of a stubborn heart, wanting to give up and give out. She did not beat it this time, and Death claimed her.

I was angry about it. Anger is a part of grief that we don’t talk about much. It’s almost as though it’s a sin to be angry at someone who died. Their death was enough; their death is a ticket to grieve, but in an acceptable way. Sadness. Tears. A feeling of loss…

I felt all of that, but in addition, I felt anger. The anger started the moment I got to her hospital room literally a minute after she died. I hit my leg in anger and stomped my foot. She couldn’t be gone, I thought. But of course, she was. I stood next to her lifeless body, still warm, talking to her because I was sure she could still hear. I told her I was going to miss her, that I was missing her already.

I didn’t tell her I was angry that she had left me. Yes, she had left others, too, but honestly, all I could deal with at that moment was my reality. As a clergy person, you’re supposed to know how to handle death, and you’re supposed to handle your own emotions. I get that and I do that pretty well. But for a moment, before the “pastor” thing kicked in, I was just her best friend, left behind, and I was mad.

That anger was enough, but then, yesterday, I had to put my beloved dog down. She was 17 years old and could not walk, could not get up or stay up after being hoisted. She was still clear-minded and still had the amazing sparkle in her eyes that she’d always had, but she could not stand up, get up, or stay up. She was incontinent. She ate, but had gotten to the point where she had to eat while lying down, and when she was lying down, she twisted her body into a shape which I called “the question mark.”

I watched her and ached for her and for me. She was a proud, beautiful dog, a Siberian Husky. All her life she had been spirited and stubborn, and those parts of her personality had not been decreased or affected by age. But she was sick. I remember thinking that she was in a place where I as a human would not want to be; if I were so sick that my life had been maintained by machines, and I could not function, I would want to die.

Surely, a dog not being able to get up, stand up or stay up…must be analogous to being on life support.

She was my other best friend. She stuck with me no matter what. She laid by my bed for all those years; she actually slept on my bed when she had been able to jump onto it. She was the gentlest soul, and she was always there for me, but now, she was sick.

She fought to live, but I knew it wasn’t good for her so, I decided I had to put her down. It was what was right for her. I gave her the “death-prep” pill my veterinarian prescribed for her; I was to give it to her two hours before “the procedure.” I gave her the pill and then gave her a rib bone. It was her final treat. I normally didn’t give her bones because bones are bad for dogs’ teeth, I’d been told. But on this day, it didn’t matter anymore. She ate that bone with the excitement with which she had always eaten “treats,” and then she put her head on the grass still moist with dew, and went to sleep.

I went to get her a couple of hours later. Her body was completely limp, because of the pre-procedure pill. I took her to the car, already crying, and laid her on the blanket I had put on the back seat for her. My other dog jumped in and gave her a sniff and sat watch at the car window which her sleeping sister had always taken…

We got to the veterinarian’s office and were led to a room. I cradled my “other best friend” in my arms, on my lap, while my other dog pranced nervously about, sensing that something was terribly wrong, or at least different, and then the doctor came in.

She was crying, too. This dog was so lovable; she was kind and patient …and pliant, yet on the other side, she was equally as stubborn and strong.  As we put my limp dog on the table, it was hard to figure out who was crying more, me or the doctor.

The procedure went quickly, me holding my dog until she was gone. It only took minutes, and as life left her, I buried my head in her fur which would have made her, had she not been dead, give me one of her long, slow dog kisses. She was gone.

And I was mad.

I am still mad. My two best friends are gone and I am quite at a loss as to how to handle it. I know death is a part of life; God knows I have preached that truth enough.

But it doesn’t help, knowing death is part of life. Right now, it feels like death slapped me twice in three weeks. And it hurts. There is no easy way to meet grief and to get through grief,  whether it comes because you’ve lost a human friend or a furry friend.

Grief is grief.

A candid observation …

The Boy Whose Father Never Came

 

 

There is an image I cannot get out of my mind.

It is that of a little boy, about 9 years old, sitting outside, waiting for his father.  This little boy was a part of a summer program, and the kids were going on a field trip; the boy’s father had promised he would chaperone.

At first, the little boy, who was no angel, was his normal, precocious self, bothering other kids, taxing teachers and denying any wrongdoing if a classmate accused him of some infraction.

But after a while, he slipped outside the school and sat on a rock, alone. I kept my eye on him; he sat there for some time, looking, straining, really, as he looked down the street.

Finally, I went to him and asked him why he was outside. Ignoring my question, he said, “Could I use your phone so I could call my father? He’s supposed to be here. He said he was going with us.”

I called his father’s number …but nobody answered. I told the little boy and he persisted. “Well, call my mother. She’ll be able to call him.” I followed directions and called his mother and gave him the phone. He asked, pleaded, for his mother to call his father, and I guess his mother said that his father wasn’t available.

Big tears welled up in his eyes…he hung his head, and said, before he hung up, “OK. I love you.”  I assume his mother said for him to be good…or some such.

There was a quiet moment, and then it was like I could see fire well up in his eyes, with a heat so hot it melted his capacity to feel. The teary eyes were now angry and hurt. This, I could see, had happened before, and not a few times. Part of the reason for his unruly behavior was now apparent to me.

Those who want to have children ought to wait until they are ready to have children before they bring new lives into the world. As I sat and watched that little boy, I thought of how angry children grow up to be angry adults; depressed children grow up to be angry adults. Kids who live with disappointment, persistent and regular disappointment, learn not to hope, not to dream, not to care.

Every child needs love and nurturing. Parents who promise their children anything …and then simply don’t do it…are messing with the lives of innocent souls. Children don’t know how to verbalize their disappointment; more often than not, when a parent is unavailable, either physically, emotionally, or both, are doing damage to little people who just don’t have the wherewithal to cope with what they are left feeling.

Contrast what a child who has love and support can and will do with one like the little boy I’ve described here.  Gabby Douglas, who wowed the world with her gymnastic skills, had not only a mother and family that loved and supported her, but had a surrogate family as well, who loved her.

Maybe…no, I am sure, this little boy has something significant that he’s supposed to share with the world as well; perhaps he was born to be yet another Olympics  hero…but I doubt we will ever know it, because disappointed, angry children get stuck, first in their own disappointment, and later in a justice system that is often not so just.

Too many children are born and dumped.  The men who produced the sperm that fertilized the egg that produced too many children make babies without even thinking about taking care of those babies, and the women who lie down with a man, any man, for sex that produces children are likewise, many of them, not interested in being a parent.

I sometimes wonder if pro-life advocates think about that. There is so much push to protect fetuses and not nearly enough attention paid to the children who are actually born…and dumped.

I don’t mean to be unusually harsh on the parents of these children. It’s likely that the parents are giving what they received, and withholding what they don’t even know exists. They parent as they do   because they never experienced love and support  and therefore,  they cannot conceive giving it…but that doesn’t make what they do fair to the children they produce.

Who knows what the little boy whose father never came has inside him? What gifts that might enhance this world will be  squandered and lost because this little boy feels detached and neglected and ignored by his father? Who knows that that’s the reason, or at least part of the reason, that there is so much crime, so many gangs? Little children grow into young people looking for ways to fill the gaps…and sometimes, that never happens.

I think I’ll follow-up with this little boy. I think I’ll try to show him that he is a child special to God, special to the world…and worthy of love. The fact that I cannot get him out of my mind must mean that my seeing him sit on that rock, alone and forlorn, looking for the father who never came, was not a mistake.

A candid observation …