Today is a tough day. It’s not just that my candidate didn’t win. It’s not just that I was sad not to be able to tell my children that we had elected our first woman President, and that she was supremely qualified, maybe more qualified than any man before her, for the job. This loss was so much more. As I walked the dog this morning before anyone else was up, crying in a cold drizzle that mirrored my mood, the only word that I could think of to explain what I was feeling was DESPAIR. I am desperately sad that I have to explain to my children how a man who insults so many people so loudly and proudly could have the support of such a huge chunk of the country; that it was on this very platform of hatred and fear and anger that he managed to garner his biggest support; that when Abby asked me this morning what he stood for, I had no answers because if his campaign was any indication, it’s not much; when she asked if her muslim friends would be safe, I could only say yes, while thinking to myself that I genuinely hoped so.
The more I considered how I felt, and tried to put a name to my feelings, the more I realized that I felt much like I did the week after I was diagnosed with cancer.
Despair is defined as a noun meaning, “loss of hope; hopelessness.” When I was initially diagnosed, I spent the first couple of days crying and wondering what the next several days, weeks, months would look like. As my dad said at the time, “You’re going to be fine, it’s just a question of how hard the road will be.” I would burst into tears in the shower, the car, under my covers…anywhere my kids wouldn’t necessarily see me, so they wouldn’t be too afraid. I was so scared about what was ahead. And the not knowing, the lack of information, was brutal.
And that’s exactly how I feel right now. I want to jump ahead 2 years and see what’s happened. Who is his cabinet? Are they qualified? Does he care more about the country than he cares about himself? Are we in any real trouble anywhere in the world? Have the civil rights of friends or family members been curtailed? Does he consider the country’s emotional well being, or is it all about financial well being…for him, or for the country? I truly can’t picture what this presidency looks like. If his campaign is any indication, it doesn’t look like anything I’d be proud to support.
I am holding on to the fact that ultimately, we’ll be fine. I hear people talking about checks and balances and restraints such that no one person alone can affect the kind of change discussed during the campaign under our system. And I hope that they’re right, but somehow this feels different. When George W. Bush won, I was disappointed, yes. But I wasn’t afraid. I knew he was qualified to govern. I trusted him with our country, even if I couldn’t support everything he wanted to do. I don’t trust Trump with our country. He’s given me no indication that I should.
I am so thankful that I sent my kids off this morning to a school that teaches not just academics, but also kindness and tolerance and acceptance and open-mindedness and love. Both my kids are sad about the outcome of the election, which is good, because it means that they are engaged and aware and they know what feels right and they care about humanity and the world around them. Apparently we live in a more of a bubble than I thought, though. And that makes me sad, too.
With my cancer diagnosis, hope creeped in slowly as I learned more about my cancer–how it would be treated, the pathology of the tumor, how far it had spread. I still don’t allow myself to think too far ahead, but I am hopeful now, five years later, that it won’t come back. Confident, no. Hopeful, yes.
So maybe it will help me to look at our new President-elect as a cancer, which doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch, honestly. And I’ll wait to find out more about who he REALLY is, and hope he’s not as awful as he seemed during the campaign. I’ll gather information as it comes, and try to find hope that, in the words of the radiologist who told me I had cancer, though it’s bad news, it’s not the WORST news. It may feel like it, but somewhere there’s a glimmer of hope. There has to be. Love does trump hate, even if far too much of America doesn’t think so.