Last night, before all the ballots were counted and the numbers were in, I went to bed with a sinking pit in my stomach. Anxious about what the next day would bring, I tried to rest my tired head, but even in my dreams I was dreading what was to come.
I woke this morning, still sick to my stomach, and reached for the first device that I could find, hoping beyond hope that it had all been just a nightmare. But there it was, all in bright red, glaring back at me in my dark kitchen.
It was an immediate response for me—the tears came first, as I crawled back in bed beside my husband, and gently woke him,
“Trump,” is all I said, still processing the news myself. He reached out to comfort me, but I was already jumping away and onto my device, to read as much as I could about how others were taking the news.
Then came the anger, all at once. And again, my husband tried to comfort me. But it was no use. I could only blame. “I hate the system” and “All of THEM!” I became unhinged, as a sinking sense of terror and fear settled within me.
“We can’t stay here,” was the last thing I said, as I left our house a complete mess. Which at that moment, I was hoping my husband would agree and say, “Yes, you’re right. This is no longer the place for us. The future is bleak, and it will be no place to raise children (should we decide to have them).”
Shaking and crying, I drove to work. My husband had begged me to stay a little later than usual and settle down before I got on the road, but I couldn’t hear him in my blind anger. I had to get to work. I had to get to a place where I could think about something other than how awful I was feeling.
When I got to work, my colleagues and I tried to go about our regularly scheduled morning meeting, but from the look on most everyone’s face, I wasn’t the only one who felt defeated. And when we started talking about the challenges that some of our students have been facing, I completely lost it. I bee-lined for the bathroom, to try and catch my breath.
Not only did it feel like the wind had been knocked out of me like a giant kick to the stomach, my hope was knocked out of me too. All I could think about was the students. Especially, the ones who had told me, just a day before, that if they were old enough to vote that they would never vote for Trump, “Because Trump doesn’t like people with special needs.” And that got me thinking about all the others too… All my friends and family, and even those I don’t even know, who will be affected even more than I am by this decision. My breaking heart went out to all of them.
At the sink, as I splashed my face, I prayed for the strength to go on. I prayed that somehow I will learn to accept what I have no control over, and that I won’t let my anger taint my own morality, compassion, or judgement. I prayed that I could just get through the day, so I could go home and give my husband that much deserved hug.
When the kids arrived, I tried to be as present as I could be. Both for them, and for me. I tried to be more patient, and a better listener. And for a good part of the day, it was easy to let those kids teach me a little more about the simple joys that will continue to exist, despite politics and perceived chaos.
Sure, for a moment I thought, “I could quit all this and run away. I could join a revolution. I could wave my fist in solidarity with all those already out there on the front lines fighting.”
But I didn’t. I stayed where I needed to be, and quietly admired my colleagues and the good work they do every day. I even felt a pang of guilt, when the afternoon bus driver who was driving our students, admitted to me that she had voted for Trump; and that she, like me, also wanted to have hope that change was good.
When I got home, at the end of this very long day, the first thing I did was hug my husband. And after some comfort food and some conversation, he finally shared with me his secret of how he is so accepting: “What you have to remember, is that you don’t have to do something memorable and fix the world. You just have to be decent.”
Of course, I cried, again. Because, what would a full range of emotions be without a few happy tears at the end caused by a full heart?
I feel grateful for knowing how today felt, and for knowing that I’m not alone in this. We'll get through this together.