I woke up on a cold Wednesday morning eager to watch the Presidential inauguration. I opened the closet, passed over my old worn red robe, and grabbed the new soft grey robe that I got for Christmas. This is the closest I got to “dressing up” for the occasion. I sat down in the rocking chair near the fireplace and flipped on the tv. My eyes got big as I felt fear that there might be violence to ruin everything, but I also felt the excitement that a new dawn of hope was rising in America.
I felt sad to see 25,000 troops lining the fenced-off streets in case of disruption, but joyful as a rainbow of colors, in the coats of venerable female dignitaries, poured like paint from a bucket out of black cars and onto the steps of the capitol. The men and women who would lead strode through the halls like conquerors “taking back the house” from the domestic terrorists who tried to steal it only a few weeks before.
I was teary through it all. I usually take for granted this every four-year ritual full of pomp and circumstance. But this year I felt it in the marrow of my bones. Because this time democracy was attacked and nearly overthrown by a mob, so my eyes were glued to every moment, taking nothing for granted. Like after someone you love dies, and you wish you had been more attentive to little things, like how my Dad’s eyes lit up when he heated maple syrup and butter together and brought it to the table to serve with our pancakes.
There was no violence and with each step - the swearing-in, the speeches, the songs, and the prayers, I would exhale in relief and inhale joy. The Presidential inauguration was the golden dawn of a bright new day. Lady GaGa looked over the highly guarded fortress of the North capitol steps and gestured outward as she sang, “oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave…”. That song has never felt so poignant. The song was penned on the floor of a ship in the dawn's early light, so covered with mists, that the author woke, not knowing if the rebels had won or lost their battle with the British. He looks through the mist, hoping as it clears, he will see the stars and stripes of the flag. Those of us in the majority voted in a new regime. This election, so hard-fought and so hard-won, was challenged first in the courts and then in the social media and then, in a desperate last stand - in the streets. But through the mists, the will of the majority prevailed. When Biden-Harris won it was like crawling out of a dark cave into the light of day.
A thin young poet named Amanda, in yellow as bright as the sun, stepped up to the mic and spoke at the inauguration. She pointed and told us not just to see that light but to be that light. A compassionate new president and our first female, and POC vice president were sworn in as the sky changed from a few sprinkles of snow to chilly wind to a blue sky of promise.
That was good news. The bad news is we still have climate change, economic and political challenges, and a pandemic in the center of it all. Four in our extended family got Covid19 in 2020. This month I learned five more people have it. It breaks my heart and makes me feel helpless. But “be the light” means to move toward action. Last week I got the first dose of the vaccine against this monster virus. As the nurse injected my right arm, I squeezed my husband’s hand. We are here together, who knows for how long. I don’t want to take him, my family, or our precious democracy for granted.