I’ve started a list of things that I think I will think next Wednesday, November 16th. But I refuse; I patently refuse to talk about that list anymore until then.
Until then, I am sitting shiva. I will spend the next week in a committed state of mourning. Shiva is a Jewish practice of grief. For one week, the closest relatives of someone who has died sit. There are limitations on what they are allowed to do. They are not allowed to do any work, including cooking; so loved ones have to cook for them. They are not allowed to change their clothes. They are not allowed to look in the mirror. In fact, you are supposed to cover all of your mirrors. And you are not supposed to make any long-term decisions or commitments.
It is a ritual hug that holds you down when you feel ready to get up and says, “I know you feel ready. But you’re not! Stay down!” And I think, as a ritual, it is usually right. We need a week. We need at least a week.
So much died for me on Tuesday. My belief that all the little girls I love would grow up with a woman leader died. My belief that liars lose in the end died. My hope that healthcare was seen as a human right died. My privilege of believing on a guttural level, if not ever on an intellectual level, that things work out vaguely in the end died.
So much to grieve.
I feel like a friend died. Every time I laugh, I remember that this is not a time to laugh. I see other people doing normal things and gape; don’t you know the world has shifted forever?! I do normal things and gape; how can you go buy stamps? The world you love has ended! There are whole 10s of minutes that I forget. It’s like reaching for the phone to call a friend, and remembering all over again that they are no longer with you.
I will take action. And man oh man, will I. But for a week I am going to wear my, “Nasty Woman” shirt because while sitting shiva you are not supposed to change your clothes. And for this week I am going to refuse– patently refuse hope. Hope (for me. I am only speaking for myself) this early will be a denial of all that has been lost. Hope this early will be because it’s easier than being mad and reckoning with all that is lost (hope for environmental policy reform, peace for millions of my fellow-countrymen who now fear being deported, what I believed the American experiment stood for, friendships that I can no longer take seriously because of their vote, and on and on).
So, shiva. I will sit. I will gather with friends and community members loved ones and talk and listen, listen, listen. Think through. I will probably keep rage-crying. I will shower and look in the mirror and wash my nasty woman shirt and not get it too sweaty by wearing it to the gym. Because I’ve always been a buffet-style Jew anyway.
But I will walk around and choose anger this week. I will walk around and reject your calls to action. I don’t disagree with you. But give me a week. I’ll meet you in hope-land on Wednesday, when shiva is over.
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