Monday, January 19, 2009

A Feeling Like the Clenching of a Fist

Dear Max,

I know the last few days have been hard for you, and uncomfortable, and scary. Someday soon, you'll have forgotten all about it though, and all there'll be to remind you is the hospital bracelet that your bear is wearing. I'd do anything to make you feel better, sweet boy, and so would your daddy; it breaks our hearts to see you like you are right now.

I know you'd never understand it if I told you that something so much more significant is happening right now to us, the importance of which we can only begin to comprehend. You probably won't remember the night that Barack Obama was elected, but your father and I do. We remember standing out on our deck after you went to bed that night. I was thinking about how nights like that were the reason you have kids, the hope that someday they'll see a better, more worthy world with a stronger, more potent voice to follow than their parents had. I was thinking that the past eight years would be a lesson to us, a reason to be more selective when it comes to who we choose to speak for us.

I was thinking that I am lucky to be here, watching this wall come down. I was thinking about 1989, when my mother, your grandma, and I sat in our living room and watched the Berlin Wall be torn down. I was 13 years old at the time, and I remember my mother turning to me and saying "I don't want you to ever forget what you saw tonight." When I was pregnant with you, your father and I went to Roslyn, Virginia, and saw the sections of the Berlin Wall that are there in Freedom Park now, along with things like the bronze casting of Martin Luther King Jr.'s jailhouse door and a boat the size of a wagon powered by a lawnmower engine that refugees from Cuba used to sail to Florida. I remembered watching a crowd full of people who believed so deeply in change that they were willing to die for it pull down a wall.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's the birthday of a pioneer, someone who wanted better for his kids and for kids everywhere, and in that respect, he was just like any parent anywhere. He translated that desire into action, though, in a way that most people never find a way to do, and that action changed the shape of our country, and for that, I am so truly grateful. Today we are celebrating his commitment to change and peace and the ties between people everywhere, remembering what he wanted for his children and what we want for our own.

Tomorrow at noon, we will stop what we're doing and watch something amazing happen. It will change the shape of our country again, and you are too little to understand this right now, Max, but someday, I hope I can convey to you the need for this change. This has been such a dark place for eight years now, and I'm foolish for pinning my hopes on a person who is, after all, just one man. But I want you to know that what I hope we'll see tomorrow is the change that we've been hoping for, for you and for your little brother or sister on the way.

I hope the next eight years are better than the eight behind us, just like I hope that your fever goes down soon and you become my sweet boy again soon. You are three and a half years old, and on the day before President Barack Obama's inauguration, when I left for work, you were asleep on the couch with your Spanish-to-English dictionary in your arms. Your fever was down again, after running high all night, and you opened your eyes just long enough to tell me goodbye.

Feel better, Max. Soon, hopefully, we'll all have a reason to.




Kimberly said...

Poor baby! I hope he feels better soon. Tell him Aunt Kimberly loves him and is blowing him get well kisses from Kentucky.

Maggie May said...

this was beautiful.