I only slept because I took a melatonin supplement. But when I wasn’t sleeping, I was thinking about Pennsylvania. And polling. And uncertainty. And protest.
But, I woke up this morning, too early, with a book of bad poetry next to my bed, with the most beautiful sympathy card ever written:
“Sierra, there is nothing to say. I’ve heard that in the mycelial networks below our feet, fungi can communicate their needs to one another. If one part of the system is hurting, it is nourished by the rest so the entire organism is strong and healthy. So here is a book of poetry—poetry that is, in fact, quite bad! Insufferable in my opinion! Can hate-reads heal you?”
It’s one of a surprising many gifts that suddenly flooded my mailbox and front porch when I admitted to the world that we miscarried our IVF baby. People intuited my love language—gifts—and sent books, cards, tea, dinners, goodies, plants, blankets, mugs, crystals, bath bombs, chocolate, a necklace in Morse code, and the most beloved new addition to our family, a little lamb stuffie that Hudson named Klank. And when Hudson carries Klank around, who for the first time, he has decided is a girl, I see him carrying around the little sister that we lost.
Each gift is a treatise in healing: Have this crystal. Hate this book. Soak in this bath. Burn this candle. Eat this treat. Snuggle this lamb (when Hudson lets him go).
Honestly, sharing that list starts to feel a little like bragging, but I share them because each one is a reminder to me, not of what we lost, but of the incredible collection of friends we’ve gained over the years. And though it doesn’t replace the embryo that we fought for, the embryo that stuck but only for a month, it starts to fill in the holes in my heart where love seeped out, and it allows love to seep back in.
I want to hang onto this feeling, this morning in particular, as I drink from a mug from California, and wrap myself in a blanket from New York.
I want to hold on tight to people that love so freely. I want to hold on tight to the memory that people are good. I want to remember that in the face of a crisis—a small one but a crisis nonetheless—friends banded together to help me heal. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful metaphor for America? Is that absurd? Could we start to think of ourselves as friends banded together to help us heal? Even as I think it, I circle the thought in red ink, with a comment that says “cliche” or “naive.”
But still, I want to hang on because I’m so nervous about what will happen today. So incredibly nervous. And after the last election, I spent the entire night crying, sometimes loudly, but more frighteningly, sometimes quietly. The only other time I’ve wailed like that in the last four years was when I lost this little baby.
I don’t want to spend another four years questioning my faith in humanity at large. I want to remember the way my humans huddled. I want to copy them on both little and grand scales.
I was listening to NPR, to a man from Baltimore who heads up an activist group campaigning for Black rights.
And he reminded me and other listeners that civic engagement—a term he laughingly admitted is a little too boring to get people invested—is not just campaigning in the streets (though he emphasized the importance of it). But he said that what’s wildest to him, is that the most radical form of activism has become caring for the sick in your neighborhood (with funding—of course, but also with actions). He used the example of bringing soup to a poor, downtrodden neighbor that you had never met. For the first time in a long heritage of bringing soup to women in the ward, I realized the soup was a metaphor. He spoke of radical kindness commingled with radical protesting. He spoke of activism as active engagement in making the experiences and sometimes plights of others better—both through protest AND through love. They coexist. Service and protest are both radical activism.
I’ve spent the last four years focused on the protest part. My heart feels like it’s in constant protest. My body has been involved with physical protest. Everything about me protests the way things are. That doesn’t need to stop, really.
But this year, as a recipient of love, I’m reminded that THAT is effective too. And it’s a privileged sort of love, but it’s shareable. And it seeps into holes and it fills them up. It takes away the deficit. It takes away the lack. I want that for this America on the brink.
If people are good, then come what may. I mean, not really. I still want Joe Biden to win. But if Pennsylvania says no, then we go from there. We become radical activists. Which includes love—real love for humans of all walks—which seems to also have become a radical notion.
I want to remember this on this day of the election. I want to remember while bracing myself for the worst, that, through the goodness of people, there might just be a way to heal.