The Morning After: A Story of Love and Sorrow and Hope

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Thursday 19 January 2017
In one of my now fairly infrequent romps through Facebook, I saw this photograph of our president.  It now looks out at me from my computer’s desktop.  It is an image that fills me with both joy and deep sadness.  It is an image whose clarity and beauty remind me of all the riches of my life and all the personal losses of the past year.  It is an image that reminds me of all the many blessings of these United States of America, of the pure grace of the last eight years,  and of the great unknown that yawns before us. It is an image that I hope will sustain me tomorrow and help me to resist the siren song of despair.



Friday 20 January 2017
I spent my early morning, as I usually do, on the phone with my cousin Jane in Texas, then with a friend here in Norfolk.  It is always good time. We talk, we read from at least one piece of spiritual literature, we listen and we talk, we talk and listen and respond. We do not agree on everything. We listen. We respond. I think it is called conversation.  Later I shopped for groceries for the weekend; my grandson will be here from mid-day Saturday until Sunday late morning.  I bought a few party favors for the surprise birthday party that my daughter-in-law and I are planning for my son’s birthday tomorrow.  He will be forty-six years old.  Last night I sent him my screen saver and he responded only, “It is a sad day.” We don’t talk about what has happened.  And I have insisted today that my fellow liberals not say all the bad things it is certainly possible to say. I can’t hear them and, except while I am typing this blog, I find I am able to not think about them.

I have my desktop image. I have found a recording of very early Leonard Cohen, the poet singing his own songs–songs familiar to me, songs to which I find I know all the words–“Suzanne,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Famous Blue Raincoat,” “So Long, Marianne,” “Chelsea Hotel.”  The rough voice fills my rooms with sound that is a kind of quietness.  I never have sound of any kind in my home, no longer listen to the music I love. I have come to love silence more. Today is different. I discover that I need the rich lyrics. I have been in the kitchen, washing fruit, slicing the good bread I bought at the market, preparing potato salad from a new recipe, something I think my grandson might like. However, he has entered the No Vegetables! stage and his current favorite foods are grapes and cookies. I have grapes and fig newtons on hand.



And today I have this blessed silence all around me, slowing me down, calming me down.  Tomorrow, or the day after that, or the day after that, I will go out, and I will find a way, every single day, to take a stand for the values for which I have fought for five decades, the values I believe to be right. I will try hard to put back into the stream of life some small bit of compassion, some slice of courage, just one moment of love.


I open my web browser to look for something on the Internet and, because my home page is the New York Times, I see the headline.  It is well past noon. The long and terrible waiting is over.  Now we are here.




My daughter-in-law comes by to bring the ice cream and cake for tomorrow.  She and our small and beautiful Vaughn Michael will come by later with balloons and streamers.  We will have a dress rehearsal for the surprise.  I have taught Vaughn to throw out his arms and say, “TA DA!!”

Tomorrow will be a good day.

Saturday 21 January 2017
I am up early, showered and ready for a full day.  A friend will come over at 8:30–a regular  time for us; another friend plans to get here at 10:00 for an hour’s visit. My grandson arrives around noon (with his parents in tow) and we will shout “Surprise!!” at his father. We will have a party and be happy together.  Then those parents will be on their way for about 24 hours, free to run their own errands, to do some work in the 18th-century home they have just bought, to sit on their porch overlooking a river, to sit with their feet up and a glass of wine nearby.  Grown-up time.  I remember being the mother of a nearly-two-year-old and needing and treasuring that time away from all the energies of parenting, away from all the beloved and battering energies of a small child. I remember, too, the wrenching sense of the loss of even those few hours in the life of this person who would be forty-six years old in the blink of an eye. Being a parent is a complicated matter.


After my son and daughter-in-law are on their way, Vaughn will look up at me and say, “Ahh You Yah,” and we will crawl up into my big chair, settle in for the week’s only exception to my silence, and choose which version to watch of K.D. Lang singing Leonard Cohen’s haunting song, already knowing that we’ll watch them all, and Choir! Choir! Choir!’s amazing gathering of 1500 singers.  We even have one favorite that is not “Hallelujah,” but is a video of a man in a mud-spattered studio, his hands caked, his concentration absolute, molding a pot from a formless piece of clay. I have loved this video so much over the couple of years since I found it, that I have taken stills from it–also images I find myself using on this desktop.

And so today will be filled with more music, with beautiful images, with family, with pleasure, with love and joy, and with great unspoken sadness. Since before dawn, the gathering on the streets of Washington will have begun.

It will be a good day.

Tomorrow will be just as good as we make it.


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6 Responses to "The Morning After: A Story of Love and Sorrow and Hope"
  1. It was a sad day. Thanks, Dean, for your beautiful perspective.

  2. Kasey Brady says:

    Dear Dean. Thank you. It helps to be reminded that there are many of us who are deeply grieving our losses. And I am grateful to be on this path with you.

  3. Lisa Wayman says:

    I too have found solace and a barrier against the deep anguish I feel for our country in Leonard Cohen. I did my weekly housecleaning to a steady stream of his poetry echoing in my ears. We will stand in solidarity against the seduction of hate, lies, greed and darkness.

  4. Kat Varn says:

    I can’t help but remember the past…. but I look forward to contributing in my soul’s longing to the future. I’m privileged to celebrate the birth of my Grandkittens later this afternoon!

  5. Ginkgo says:

    And life is all these things…

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