November 8, 2016 was a beautiful, sunny, bright fall morning. I eagerly greeted the day and headed to our local elementary school to vote before going to work. I recall how joyful I felt walking to my car after casting my ballot. Democracy was thriving. People were exercising their right to vote and declaring their will for the next leader of our great nation. The candidates couldn’t have been more different from each other! The right choice was so obvious. To me, anyway.
The morning was calm and peaceful, and it seemed like all was right in the world and everything was in God’s hands. Finally, the campaign season nightmare was over. I felt like celebrating.
That evening, after my husband went to bed, I snuggled into my easy chair to watch the election results. Time dragged on with no clear victory in sight. I had to go to sleep if I expected to be functional for work the next day. Despite some niggling anxiety, I felt optimistic and hopeful and drifted off to dreamland.
At 1:00am I was jerked awake. I don’t know what prompted it, but it was a startling jolt. I reached for my phone. The Washington Post headline “Trump triumphs” assaulted my eyes.
I cannot describe adequately the impact of those two little words. In my sleepy stupor I kept questioning: Is this really happening? Can this really be true? This MUST be a joke. I was shaken at the foundation of my being. Rocked into an altered state of panic, rage, disbelief, horror and abject fear.
I tried to go back to sleep, but it was impossible. Every few moments, I kept looking at my phone, somehow thinking that by doing so, the outcome would be different. That this terrible mistake would be rectified.
The next morning, I dragged myself to the office, feeling nauseous from lack of sleep and numb from the bitter pill I had just been force fed. I was in absolute, all-encompassing, full-blown grief. As if the person I loved most in the world had died a sudden, horrific death.
I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I couldn’t speak. I choked back waves of convulsive, stinging tears as I arrived at the office and staggered through the hallway. The atmosphere of the building was thick and heavy. It dawned on me: I was not the only person reeling from this stunning event. There was a dark cloud snuffing out the oxygen in the air. It was hard to breathe.
I plopped down at my desk, mentally shocked and paralyzed. I willed myself to begin the robotic routine of turning on my computer and reading incoming emails, simultaneously wrestling my lifeless body for composure.
A few moments later, I was wrenched from this haze as a very likeable and friendly co-worker and the president of our organization wafted by my cubicle. Their exuberant delight was a dissonance twanging the strings of my broken heart. “We won!” she loudly declared, reveling in the moment. The president jauntily winked and gleefully smiled directly at me, gloating, as they pranced by.
There was no humility or gentleness evident in that jubilant victory lap. No recognition of the searing pain many of us were enduring. Our company’s president seemed unwilling to tamp down his exhilaration, despite the effect he must have known it was having on many of us, his loyal flock.
Then I recalled the time, just a few weeks ago, when I was in his office discussing business. I tried to ignore the conservative radio talk show buzzing in the background while we worked. As we wrapped up, he felt duty-bound to tell me that I was one of the “elite,” but acted like I wasn’t. At the time, I didn’t know what the term “elite” meant! I thought he was teasing me, so I laughed it off. Now, I recognize the derisive comment for what it was and what he meant.
As they drifted away I just kept thinking: This cannot stand. This WILL not stand.
But here we are, on the eve of Election 2020, and the nightmare is only more frightening. God Bless America! Please.