Vail Daily column: Finding a silver lining
I got a can of 7-Up out to put in a Champagne glass for my daughter Brigitte. I opened a bottle of Veuve Cliquot for myself. I agreed to let her stay up until 9:30 p.m., thinking most of the election results on the East Coast would be projected by then. Brigitte wore her “love trumps hate” T-shirt and I had on my “Veterans and Military Families for Hillary” T-shirt. We were ready.
Just a few weeks before, I drove the kids the eight-hour round trip to Pueblo to see Hillary Clinton in person. We had a great perch on a balcony with a clear line of sight of the woman I thought would be our next president. On Tuesday, thanks to every formerly respectable polling organization, I expected a tough night but ultimately a Democratic victory. I was already trying to talk my husband Mark into attending the inauguration in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20, 2017. Then the returns began coming in and my optimistic mood vanished. I put the 7-Up and the Champagne back in the fridge.
Around 9 p.m., I told Brigitte to go to bed. I would let her know the results in the morning.
“Is Hillary winning?” she asked, her perky face looking up from her iPad.
“It does not look good.” Her face fell and took mine down with it.
She started to cry and came to me and wrapped her small arms around my waist. What she asked next demonstrates not only what a compassionate, decent human being she is, but also that children her age, 11, are fully aware of some of the most significant issues at stake in this election.
Haltingly, between agonized sobs, Brigitte asked, “Will they come and take my friends and their families away and send them back to Mexico?” Brigitte attends a local school with a large Latino enrollment. She does not know which of her classmates or their parents are documented or undocumented. It is not the sort of thing that comes up in conversation between middle schoolers more interested in the latest posts on Musical.ly or Snapchat. Besides, I never wanted her to view any of her classmates as interlopers or inferior because they are not U.S. citizens. At school they are all the same — students.
Then Brigitte asked me, tears still streaming down her little face, “Will they build a wall between America and Mexico?”
I responded as truthfully as possible. I told her I did not know what was going to happen next, but that deportations and a wall along the U.S. — Mexican border were two of the primary ambitions of the Trump campaign. I quickly added that our family would be all right, and I sort of believe that. Unlike the working class and poor, we have financial cushion to weather another economic downturn.
I never hid my liberal viewpoint in my Vail Daily columns. For those for whom the election results were welcome news, there may be some satisfaction at my comeuppance. This is not the point where I predict that four years hence it will be me that smugly gloats at the disaster wrought by the Trump presidency. I am a patriot. I want the best for my country.
But as I work through the stages of grief, where I plan to vacillate between denial and anger for a good long while, my daughter’s concerns give me hope. Hope that just around the corner is a new crop of citizens who are kind and compassionate like her. If that is true, and I think that it is, then ultimately love will overcome hate.