No Words

I have no words. As someone who has built her career on her ability to use words effectively and well, this simple statement is both humbling and terrifying. But those emotions are simply reactions to the other emotions that threaten to engulf me. Today, on this Sunday of what has been an eternally long weekend, I am filled with pain and sadness, helplessness and fear, sympathy and empathy, righteousness and anger, fatalism and passion, loneliness and solidarity.

The sign my daughter made and carried on January 29, 2017 at the Boston protest against the immigration ban

This weekend, I’ve struggled to find the words to explain to an eight-year-old how hatred and bigotry can lead to violence and death. To explain why freedom of assembly and freedom of speech is something worth celebrating even when the people who exercise it are hateful and wicked. How we have the right and obligation to stand up against the beliefs of others even as we also defend their right to speak. How defending those rights does not mean that you defend or condone how it turns to violence.

Closer to home, I was twice reminded that I have friends fighting internal battles – of which I’m not always aware – and that they don’t always win. This weekend, I caught a glimpse of the enormity of internal struggles I can’t comprehend.

In the never-ending battle against bigotry and hatred, lately it feels like the “other side” is gaining ground. Meanwhile, there are millions out there trapped in their silent battles, and sometimes, despite love and support, battles are lost.

This weekend reminded me that there are ideals for which we need to be vigilant about fighting. And that while we cannot control the actions of others, we can control how we react to them. For example, a friend chose to remember our lost soul by the joy he brought us. And my daughter recalled that “character” was the measure by which we judge a man, not the color of his skin.

We can raise our voices against violence and bigotry. We can raise our standards for acceptable behavior in society without advocating censorship. We can raise awareness for and devote more funding toward mental health and addiction resources for those fighting their silent battles.

On a smaller scale, we can also choose to remember that “those people” don’t exist, only individuals do. That we can start a conversation assuming we have common ground rather than assuming we don’t. We can show by how we live our lives that these hate-filled rallies don’t define America.

Let’s remember – or create – an America that embraces diversity – of opinion, of race, of lifestyle, of religion – rather than shuns it. An America that believes that supporting others through their struggles isn’t a sign of weakness but of humanity. An America that believes that we have a moral obligation – to the world, to our children, to each other, and to ourselves – to condemn not only the individuals who actively commit violent acts, but also those who silently condone them, to be realistic about the state of our world and aggressively work toward solutions, to fight for an idealistic future even if it’s unattainable. To build an America and a world we want to leave to our children and, failing that, to give them the tools to use and the foundation upon which they can continue the fight.

When words fail, action – and compassion – can take their place.

I have one request. Have compassion.

Advance apologies – I’m going political on you. But long-time readers of this blog know that this topic hits very personally to me. I was listening to NPR the other day, and a story caught my attention. The story was about a just released documentary entitled, “After Tiller.” Created by pro-choice advocates (so I’m sure it has quite a lot of bias), the film attempts to communicate the reasons why doctors and clinics who perform late-term abortions make the decision to continue doing something that is so clearly fraught with danger. From what I understand (and I should note that I have NOT yet seen it), the film also looks at the people who get late-term abortions for both medical and non-medical reasons. The part that struck me was this statistic: Today there are only FOUR doctors in the US who perform late-term abortions. To get to them, it seems you often have to be pretty desperate.

This is the box that Carrie put together for us to memorialize Baby Girl. Filled with pictures, blankets, hats and footprints, it's something we cherish.

This is the box that was put together for us to memorialize the life that wasn’t. Filled with pictures, blankets, hats and footprints, it’s something we cherish.

Six years ago, my then husband and I were presented with an almost unthinkable “choice.” Continue reading

Balancing Conflicting Messages

K: “Did you see me today in my tumbling class? How I fell off the tall balance beam twice, but I got back on? ‘Cause I’m going to get better at that! Weren’t you proud of me?”

Me: “I did see you! And I was proud of you! Were you proud of yourself?”

K: “I’m always proud of myself.”

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In the Wake of Boston: One Child’s Question

“Mumma, you’re never gonna die, right?”

Yesterday was the day after here in Boston. I heard someone on NPR describe it as a city-wide feeling of melancholy. To me, it feels like a pervasive quiet permeating the city – a quiet laced with an odd mix of determination, defiance and community layered atop deep, deep sadness. We are a city united not only by mourning, but also by our resolution to persevere against the evil that confronts us. And our country cries and fights with us.

“Mumma, you’re never gonna die, right?”

Monday, I did what almost everyone I know did. I left work early to find my loved ones. I picked K up from school, and I gave her a hug. I tried to pretend that disaster hadn’t just ripped through my adopted hometown. We played games. We role-played (I was K, and she was “mommy”). And we pretended to be Bat Girl and Wonder Woman fighting off bad guys. Just like every other evening.

“Mumma, you’re never gonna die, right?”

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In Pursuit of Happiness

A couple months ago, I had dinner(ish) and drinks (more of this) with a friend, and in the course of our conversation we spoke of many things – “of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings.” We talked of opportunities passed by and wasted potential – and ultimately, whether they mattered when considering one’s overall happiness. Continue reading

Through the Looking Glass

In my last post, I spoke a little about how I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin – about who I’ve become as a person – then I think I’ve been in a while. But every so often, you get a glimpse of how others might see you too. Sometimes that’s an amazing view. And sometimes it makes you realize that you still have quite a lot of work to do. In less than 24 hours, I got both.

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Freedom

Divorce is a funny thing. Even in a case such as mine, where everything is amicable and hunky-dory, divorce by its nature represents change. It’s now been almost 14 months since my ex and I filed for divorce, and nearly three years since we officially separated. And not surprisingly, the impact of that action has continued to change, morph and mature as time has gone on.

On the eve of our divorce, I predicted thisContinue reading