of rabbit holes and safety pins

I’ve started writing almost every day since Tuesday and went straight down the rabbit hole of self-pity.  It was a greater pity than “self,” making the hole deeper and wider and so easy to tumble into.  Having no partner to debrief with adds to the rabbit hole quality of the writing.  I read articles by those who have written eloquently.  What do I have to add?  I thought of posting links to all the articles that I’ve read.  For days, I could post links.  Instead, I tried to find quiet.  Not an easy tasks with the furies and demons circling.

On Wednesday morning, amidst Facebook flurries, I posted

A friend posted Fred Rogers, “Look for the helpers,” reminding me that saying our Kaddish and sitting Shiva is appropriate to heal. And then, there is work to do. We are not alone or powerless. There may be an opportunity to become one of the helpers. On the other hand, Julia is devastated.

I spent Wednesday busy, intentionally exhausting myself for a decent night’s sleep.  The raking that I was saving for a high school group was chipped away at; I swam twice what I usually do at the gym.  Clothes got washed, dried and folded.  The baking drawer in the kitchen was cleaned out, the basement was swept, the desk cleaned, come vacuuming done.  I could have transplanted a national forest.  I ended the day feeling vaguely self-indulgent.

I responded to Facebook posts, only from grieving and angry allies, nothing  to the victorious crowing which would not have been good for my angry, hopeless heart.  I tried responding to a younger, angry friend and managed to distance her when I meant to comfort.  Realizing my mistake, I kept my comments short and reverted to “likes.”

I offered hollow platitudes to Julia and then spent some time watching youtube videos about women’s suffrage.  It took 75 years and there were lots of very hopeless defeats.  She was bored before she understood and she was loath to take her Hillary buttons off her jacket.

I was surprised by my tears on hearing Hillary’s concession speech.  When both she and the President talked about the importance in peaceful transition and the rule of law, I wanted to be the unruly child, stamping my feet, insisting that “we” act as “they” threatened to.  Then I breathed and felt  glimmers of pride in their measured, intentional words.

The morning of the 9th, I took a walk around our bay with a friend.  Touching on fears, anger and the future.  Did we blame?  I don’t think so.  Later, the walk reminded me of a walk I took late in November, 1963, with Maryanne DeMarco from up the street.  It was afternoon, near dust, the day of Kennedy’s funeral.  The neighborhood was quiet, people glued to their tv’s and we kids had been kept inside and quiet for days.  And days.  I was counseled by my parents ‘not to play’.  We could walk, talk quietly.  We didn’t do our regular racing from house to house playing our elaborate make believe, we measured the silence outside.  Now, I get it.  We were feeling the shock in the air, the same shock I felt the day that Regan (and indeed, I was no fan of his) was shot and the day the World Trade Center fell.  As I kid, I felt the numbness of the grown ups and didn’t know what to do with it.  Yes, it was awful that the president was killed but in my little life, I had no idea what awful meant.  I was not observant enough to notice anything that followed.  What is age appropriate empathy?

Now, I could gather the bouquet of public and private days of mourning.  The shock and later the grieving is familiar.  Disappointment fuels the next days and changes courses.  I find solace in the idea that post catastrophe fears and worries are not oracles.  And I’m learning to sit quietly and just wait without too much comment although I really wish to immediately jump up and change something.

Julia was loathed to take off her Hillary buttons but she didn’t complain much when I insisted.  She told me that kids were crying in school, and later in the day, her teacher told me, it was one of her toughest days ever.  I heard about the Safety Pin, a sign that the wearer is a safe person.  I like symbols, I like the ordinary-ness of a pin, I liked that I could offer Julia something with which to replace her buttons.  I read a few pro writings and quickly found the idea’s detractors.  It’s a symbol, not a movement, not action, but to expect immediate mobilization is absurd.  For now, we’ll wear the pins, take a bit of comfort to see others doing the same and see what there is to do as shock and grieving wane.

As for mobilization, Julia wanted to do something.  So did I.  So, we baked morning glory muffins and oatmeal cookies for our church potluck on Saturday evening and for Julia’s teachers today.

Not much, I know.  Not much at all.  But it was concrete enough for Julia and just what there was to do.

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