I wear my grandma’s ring.
Every single day.
It is my armour. It is my armour because she was gone too soon. Because I never got to know her. Because she was an educator. Because she raised three children in the 1960s and 1970s. Because I hear her laugh was great and her sense of humor was too. Because I want people to ask me about the ring, about her. Because maybe, through the twelve long years of alzheimer’s disease that preceded her death, just maybe I did learn what she would want me to fight for.
I wear her ring because I want her to be proud.
The day she died, I tried to go to school and failed. The day she died, I did nothing but cry. The day she died, I tried to explain to my young cousins why I was so sad. The day she died, my uncle asked to be alone with his dead mother. The day she died, I learned how to mourn.
But, the day she died, I learned that death is not the end. The day she died, the way she died, I learned that death brings change. Death brings fear. I learned that death deserves mourning. I learned that while death may kill the person, it can never kill the soul. I learned that no matter what, you have to keep fighting.
Today, I find myself in mourning once again. In mourning for something I truly believed in. In tears for the feeling of loss. In fear of the unknown. In terror of what the future holds for me, for people of color, for the LGBTQI community, for the country, for immigrants, for the international community, for those with different abilities, for women, for those who do not understand who they just elected to be the president of what is arguably the most powerful country in the world.
And yet, while I have not yet left my apartment today, while I have spent much of the day in tears, while I have eaten only 7 pancakes all day, while I hardly slept last night, I have not given up. We have to keep fighting. We need to talk to the people who are different from us. We must leave our echo chamber. We can not run away. We can not move to Canada.
My grandmother’s death did not remove her from my history, and the death of this campaign (or, for some, the figurative death of our country) does not remove it from ours.
The activism that has become the soul of this campaign over the last weeks can and must live on. We can not forget what we are fighting for. We can not abandon our neighbors, we can not unfriend our Facebook friends. We need to pull together, we need to listen, we need to learn, and we need to heal.
Every night, I remove my grandmother’s ring from my finger and place it prominently on my dresser.
Every night, I think of her again, and hope I’ve made her proud.
Every night, I let myself rest. Because fighters must rest. We can fight, we can work, we can talk, we can scream. But we can not escape death. We can not escape the end. And we must not try to do so. We must allow ourselves to smile through the pain, we must appreciate the sun, the rain, and the people who love us. And, we must allow ourselves to sleep through the night.
Every morning, her ring is back on my finger. Today, I have her earrings too. Her death gave me my armour. I will not let her down.
Today, mourn as you must. If we were not in mourning, we would be giving in to defeat. Treat today like you would any other death. Be kind to yourself. Eat cake, drink wine, stay in bed. But please, do not run away. Do not lose faith. Try again tomorrow. Keep the soul alive. And find your armour. You’re going to need it.