Here is a letter to read and sign (if you are so inclined) on the election in the United States of Donald Trump. I am in no state to write about this unthinkable outcome. In grief and shock, anger and fear and in the minority, Ellen
Dear Mr. Trump,
This is not what greatness looks like.
The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering, and bigotry. We reject your support for torture, your calls for murdering civilians, and your general encouragement of violence. We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don’t look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same god as you.
Facing your fear we choose compassion. Hearing your despair we choose hope. Seeing your ignorance we choose understanding.
As citizens of the world, we stand united against your brand of division.
Sometimes in the darkest moments the brightest lights shine. Let’s make Trump a force that brings the world together, to fight for everything we love.
Ricken, Alice, Emma, Christoph and the whole Avaaz team
Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
It is almost Christmas, and my birthday, and today I cried reading an old birthday email from my sister. She signed it “Lisa the Pizza, Tony Baloney and the rest of the gang ‘up there’,” meaning my brother, and my mother and father.
“Tony Baloney” died two years and a half ago, leaving behind three adopted children whom he adored and who adored him, and a loving wife. My father and mother died 25 and 20 years ago, as impossible as that seems. Dad and Mom died this time of year. And my best friend, Wendi, died shortly after. All of cancer of some sort or the other. But they all loved horses.
We now live in Millbrook — horse country. Horse farms dot the countryside. My father and mother and Wendi would have adored it. My brother was the only one to visit Millbrook, coming with his family whom we put up at a nearby horse ranch. They all had the time of their lives. One of my fondest memories of my brother is from that visit. We are holding hands as he is relaxing after a day of riding with his kids. He is drinking and smoking (what eventually killed him) and we are taking in the sunset on the porch of the dude ranch.
I love horses, too. It is in my blood. Dad played the horses and my brother worked on several racetracks, including Belmont. Now I abhor horse-racing, finding it cruel. My brother had horror stories to tell of how the horses were drugged and run hurting. I have seen horses being put down– all for a senseless sport. Dad and I would quarrel about this if he were still alive.
I remember stroking a horse once at a show nearby and the bliss I felt was mystical in a most spiritual way. I wanted that moment to last forever. And the happiest I have ever seen my husband was on a moonlit ride we took in a canyon in Arizona on our honeymoon. Horses bring happiness. My husband knows it. Dad knew it. Tony knew it, Wendi knew it and to some extent, Mom knew it.
Too old to ride now I pet horses when I can, and admire them as we drive by horse farms. I photograph them when the spirit moves me. I ache inside for my parents who would have adored it here in our little barn. For my brother, the cowboy, as different from me as night and day, but bonded by a deep love and shared losses. For my friend, Wendi, with whom I shared a not-to-be replicated link of love. Merry Christmas, Tony Baloney, Mom, Dad, Wendi!
My blessing comes from the love I share with my husband who married me despite my mental illness. It comes, too, from our spiritual connection to nature. I admire my husband who works with society’s outcasts as a clinical social worker. My giving is on a much smaller scale– tiny things here and there– online activism and such. You play the hand you are dealt.
Christmas can be a hard time, and New Year’s, too, and I know there will be the inevitable meltdown into tears over losses of loved ones, over mortality, over our material nature. And perhaps you will also have your own moment of bleakness. But I hope that you, too, will be able to touch your bliss at Christmas and find a blossoming hope for the new year.
Blessings of joy to all!!
Abandoned by life
choked by overgrowth of unkempt green
once upon a time
breathing, seething with energy
steaming with the hot breath of cattle
teaming with the tenuous tenure of life
Your body long gone
your loving heart now ashes
your caring now a memory
which nothing can erase
and time cannot erode.
How I long for thee
though a mere thin veil
separates your spirit from me
when I miss thee mightily.
He didn’t “get it,
the “loss thing,”
when my aunt died mid-April,
and I lost my second mother.
Didn’t “get it” when I lost my first.
This was not the only time
he was lost in oblivion and
puzzled by my tears.
He didn’t see me hurting
from the loss of my lineage,
and his lack of empathy for my grief
as he made me meet and greet
a friend the next day, as if all was normal.
This time I balked, bolder and older,
and he agreed it was time to ponder
and talk with his mentor.
When he came home
one night days later,
full of hugs of apology,
and tulips on the kitchen counter,
it was a breakthrough for us both.
It took a few days
but what came out
brought tears upon tears.
Not having grown up
with emotional displays
he didn’t “get” the meaning of loss.
With no models of grief
he didn’t know how to feel it himself
nor how to give solace,
not just lip service,
to those who had lost.
I cried for him.
How very sad, as a child
he didn’t know the love I knew.
He, a sensitive child,
in an icebox family
fraught with frigid emotion,
and warm, deep affection only
from his great-aunt, Dot.
He brought me pink tulips,
flowers of a contrite heart,
and held me close
and kissed me
with lips full of apologies
but I was the one
who felt sorry for him
for the years he knew not love.
Twenty-eight years ago
God told me “Love this man,
trust him and have faith in him,
and hold him to your heart.”
Many moons later, I love him light-years
more than the day we met
and in then-unimaginable ways
has our love strove for the stars.
He has brought me:
kindness and gentleness,
generosity of spirit,
goodness of heart,
and healing humor.
What I have taught him:
the glories of love
and agony of loss.
From the beginning
the seed of love was sown
for better or worse
deeply within the parched,
but fertile soil of my imperfect heart.
And he has cultivated the growth
of a stalwart, staid evergreen,
amid the blooming two-lips of forever love.
(This is dedicated to my brother who died a year ago this Father’s Day after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer.)
It is Springtime and I am doing my annual Spring cleaning– maniacally giving away old and unused clothes and items that no longer serve or never did. Some things I remember as I go through the linen chest– others are totally forgotten as to origin and use. And then it hits. In the corner of the chest is a neatly folded piece of green check cotton cloth. I immediately know its source. It is the cloth my Mother used to make curtains for her kitchen. Mom was always making curtains. When my husband and I were married she made curtains for our first apartment. We are still using them. Seeing this green check cloth brings me back to a hard period in my life when seeing my Mother was my only joy. We are sitting at the table in her kitchen having tea and laughing. It is a happy meeting. So many years ago.
And now with the sun shining and the birds singing and fresh air wafting in through the windows I am struck with uncontrollable grief. Tears that feel they could go on forever. It is as if she just died yesterday. But there is one difference, the remorse and the resentment I felt at the time is finally gone for the very first time. Some harsh words from my Mother as she lay dying, my lack of empathy and leaving without saying goodby for what was to be the last time– all this led to fifteen years of not being able to think of my Mother without guilt and deep regret. It was as if all of the good times we shared were negated by this one memory. Now the tears seem to be some sort of liquid acid dissolving the stone of resentment, guilt and remorse that squelched all the good. I feel cleansed and feel like I could cry a good, long cry as I go outside to sit in the sun. The sun seeps down in the wound like a salve.
Grief is not just a human phenomenon. Elephants will stand over the dead body of one of their herd, in some way showing respect for the departed spirit. And I think of examples close to home. The doe we saw one day going over to the dead body of a fawn on the side of the road. Or the baby rabbit we saw crossing into the middle of the road where a large mass of flesh with fur lay. And even closer to home– my husband and I adopted my Mother’s dog once Mom got too sick to care for her. Ko-ko had stayed with us many times in our house and loved being there. We never took her to see Mom again because the parting was too hard on both of them. We did take her toys though, from Mom’s house one night, and put them in our bedroom, among them a corroded rubber Santa. We were sitting at dinner that night and Ko-ko went into the bedroom. We heard a heart-stopping yelp and then whimpering. We went in and found Ko-ko with her old Santa in her mouth. The Santa was her version of my green check curtain. A stabbing wound and tears.
Clearly animals feel grief. Some die of grief just like humans. Grief binds us together, human and animal, and perhaps provides the special appeal of the new life in Spring. Yet when Spring inspires happy faces and a general feeling of well-being, and flowers are blooming everywhere, the contrast can be cruel. As T.S. Eliot so eloquently put it: “April is the cruelest month.” But once it is June the new life has settled in and we can go out in the yard and bake in the sun– the universal giver of life.
We humans have no prerogative on grief. Our lives entwine with happy moments and tragic in this vast web of existence, and Spring and loss are just two facets of possibility.
(Click http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/ellen-stockdale-wolfe.html for information on, and to purchase my Bipolar/Asperger’s memoir.)