Yesterday morning, CNN broadcast the first service at the Emanuel AME church. The Rev. Goff said:
“The blood of the Mother Emanuel Nine requires us to work until not only justice is served in this case, but for those who are still living on the margin of life.”
His quote is an attitude of love in the face of hatred.
The gunman said he was going to start a “race war,” to which the Rev. Goff addressed in his sermon:
“Lots of folks expected us to do something strange and break out in a riot,” Goff said.
“Well, they just don’t know us,” he said, as the congregation stood and cheered.
The tragedy of the Charleston shooting remained in my thoughts and showed up in a poem during the dead of night.
The Insanity of Hate
Hate is an acid
dissolves innate morality.
eats away reason
from the slow drip of racism
fed by stereotypes
begat by fear, blame, otherness.
Hate eats the heart
throws up paranoia
irrational rationalized thoughts
Hate takes a gun
commits violence, destroys
turns world's upside down.
Hate is a four letter word
so is LOVE,
motivated by HOPE,
fueled by WORK,
for an end to violence.
The frenzy of doing often keeps my emotions out of reach, until the doing stops. Action keeps the feelings sidelined, pushed aside so I can go on without dissolving into a blubbering mess. Such is the activity of the last few days.
The preparation to move the property of two young adults and a cat, across two states, California to Colorado, was an adventure. We drove my son’s small SUV with a jammed packed U-Haul from our city at sea level past Las Vegas and up through the mountains of Utah.
It was difficult paying attention to the drive itself when my eyes wanted to take in the creamy sandstone rock formations around me. With each 1,000 feet we climbed the more lovely the mountains loomed ahead. We made it to Springdale, the town right outside Zion National Park. Zion, place of sanctuary, proved its rightful name.
The park was a wonderous distraction from driving and feeling the emotions about the move. A shuttle bus across the motel took us to the park, where we boarded a larger open air shuttle that took us to several sights, a hop on and hop off scenic trip through the park to view high monoliths of rock. An impressive monolith, rising more than 2400 feet above the canyon floor, is the Great White Throne.
The next morning, with a full moon descending, we are on the road again through steeper mountain passes. At 7,000 feet and climbing, in 90 degree weather, the car overheated. A green sign on the road next to us said 58 miles to the next town (Grand Junction, CO).
My boyfriend knew what to do: turn off the air conditioner, let the car cool down for 30 minutes, check the engine, check fluid and oil levels. Everything seemed okay, and off we went again. At Grand Junction, we put in transmission oil, checked fluids again, ate an early dinner, and began driving again. I had to pay attention to the climbing altitude which was very difficult with the oxblood colored rocks, dotted with pine and colored blonde with Aspen trees.The moon rose as we climbed.
Nighttime driving is hard, doubly when it’s up a mountain. I drove through Vail, at 10, 800 feet in the dark, with road repair work every few miles, through winding roads of descents and ascents, checking in the rear view mirror to make sure the trailer didn’t sway. Like a pilot, I had to scan the car dashboard, checking on the engine temperature while paying attention to road signs that notified us of “careful wildlife ahead for 12 miles.”
“Sorry, daughter, if a deer jumps in front of this car it’s her or me. I won’t swerve.”
“Maaa-ooom, don’t say that,” she said.
After two hours of heightened alert, we see the twinkling lights of Denver spread before us. After a month, I got to see my son again. Hugs and kisses, not just from us but from his cat, who very uncat -like jumped and cuddled into his arms.
The next morning we went to the apartment leasing office to sign papers and get the apartment keys. While unpacking boxes, I think how long a year lease is and whether the kids will find jobs soon. I watch as my daughter sets up her household. Box by box, she removes framed family photos and covers the fireplace mantel with memories, images that will keep her family near. No mistake, this apartment is her place now. I finish washing her collection of cat mugs and then sit in a camping chair for a break.
“Mom, does this look good here…what do you think about this shelf here?”
She jots down missing items, can I ship these forgotten items to her? Space fills, blank walls burst with color. I feel on the verge of tears, a little numb, try to breathe. They’ll be all right, they’ll make their way, they’re smart. I look out the sliding glass doors to the balcony. Pine trees tower way past the third floor of their apartment. I’m reminded that this is the first day of fall. Seems appropriate.
I began to pray for my kids, to be safe, protected from evil. I talk to them about working together when it comes to the bills, rent, groceries, and household chores. To trust and rely on each other, and for my daughter not to be my sons mom but remember that they are two young adults living an independent life. I remind myself of these things too.
They’ll be here, I’ll be in California, two states between us. I think of letting go of what was the semi predictable to unpredictable, no control over their lives. I hope they will call me to help in important decisions, just to ask for my advice. That will help me through this time.
We hug. Boyfriend and I walk down the stairs, away from them. My mind floats to words, to make a poem. I scribble on paper, while tears seep onto my cheeks.