It’s that week. The week where I want to stay in bed and cry. Eat all the carbs in the house. Think about the what might have beens. The could have beens. The should have beens. I should have a daughter who is celebrating her 10th birthday this week. I should be showering her with gifts. The candy she likes, the stuffed animals she loves, her favorite doll or her favorite video game. Laughing in the evenings while we cuddle with the family and listen for the 10th time as we share the story of her birth. Instead, last night Jackson and Jerimiah and I talked about the girl we thought she would she been.
Jackson thinks Lydia would have liked Minecraft. Jerimiah thinks she would have liked whatever her big brother liked. I think she would have been too much like me to handle. Of course that’s the should have, would have, could have beens at work. The very real fact is that our daughter, from the moment she was conceived, had very real problems. Had she survived her birth she would probably not actually be here to celebrate her 10th birthday. The daughter we had had a chromosomal disorder that if she beat the 10% survival odds, would have been wheelchair- bound, unable to care for herself, unable to feed herself, let alone play Minecraft. Our daughter was never the girl we think she should have been, could have been, would have been. But her small, short life has surely impacted a great many people and that is the reality. I need to keep that in mind moving forward this week. I have to, so that I can indeed keep moving forward this week.
Sending love and light to you all. I hope you can move forward this week too.
Have you voted yet? I have. Jerimiah and I mailed our ballots in at the end of September. Then we used Georgia’s “My Voter Page” to ensure they were received and approved. We used the USPS and guess what?! Nothing catastrophic happened! All is well over here. Very well, in fact. I just read 538’s new report that turns Georgia into a “True Toss Up,” which I don’t have to tell you, is amazing.
Meanwhile, I’ve reminded all my close friends and family to have a voting plan. I’ve shared the shit out of voting “Cheat Sheets” like this one:
And if you’ll remember I sent my junior senator a nasty little email detailing how I’ll be doing my best to vote her ass out of office. Crossing my fingers for a run-off.
So yeah, things are busy, busy here in Georgia. People are amped up to vote from Marietta, down to Peachtree City over the Perimeter to Stone Mountain, the ATL is turning out, y’all! We are striving for a government, local, state, and federal that looks, thinks, and loves more like us. So I guess watch yourselves, Georgia and the rest of you. Would hate to see y’all left behind.
I was excitedly texting a friend Friday night about the new season of “Pen15” when she wrote, “Fuuuuck.” I Haha-ed it and she said, “No. RBG.” “What?!” I texted frantically. “Yeah,” she wrote back. “CNN just reported.” And then the curtain sorta fell. Only it didn’t, because Jerimiah and Jackson had downloaded the new Tony Hawk and were pumped to play it with me. So we played Tony Hawk, while my phone lit up. Text after text. “Can you believe it?!” And “Now what do we do?” I turned my ringer off and tried to master a Kickflip.
I haven’t had the bandwidth to process this and I’m not sure when I will. But it will come. Until then, we answered Jackson’s questions the best we could today. We talked about standing on the steps of the Supreme Court a couple of years ago. Jackson remembered the “big, bronze door” and how we waved to the building, hoping RBG was looking down at us. We watched the RBG documentary on Hulu as a family tonight, then we watched “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, because sometimes you have to laugh when you want to cry.
Jerimiah reminded me not to say Rest In Peace to RBG, after all she’s Jewish, wouldn’t care much for it anyway. I told him I’ll say rest in power then. But the important thing is just that she rests. She did her job, one hellava one at that. And we are so appreciative.
Rest in power, Notorious RBG. We’ll be down here picking up where you left off, and waving like crazy. I hope you can see us.
This last Saturday was the Fourth Annual Women’s March, which began in 2017 out of necessity. Women and men witnessed the rise of a misogynistic racist into our highest office, and knew what that would mean for women’s equality, reproductive rights, immigration, and a thousand other problems we still face everyday in this country, so they took to the streets. There hasn’t been a turnout like the original in 2017, but each year tens of thousands descend on Freedom Park with their homemade signs, fight in their eyes, and determination in their hearts. They want to be heard. They want to be seen. And though the Women’s March has had its share of conflict, mainly the alienating of some cultures and races, they have done their best to weed out those that perpetrate this way of thinking. Because equality should work for everyone, not just white females who were born with a vagina.
I enjoyed watching the coverage of the march on Saturday and reminiscing with my husband and son about last year’s march, the one we went to. The running joke in our house is this: We took Jackson to Washington DC for the first time when he was just learning to walk, we took him the second time when he was just learning to march, and we will take him again when he is ready to lead.
I won’t take you down the rabbit hole that was the Women’s March of 2019, but you can read about our experience at the red link. And I’ll leave you with some of my favorite pics from last year’s march, and the call to go yourself! There is nothing quite like standing amongst the fold of women, men, and children all marching for the same thing.
We love the Home Alone movies. Specifically the first and second. The third one was way off brand and Jerimiah and I cringe thinking about it, but Jackson loves all of them. So every year we watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on back-to-back nights, to fully appreciate all the fun, little nuances of the very cheesy movies from our own childhood. This year Jackson was a bit different because for the first time Jackson spent a lot of the movie asking questions like, “What ever happened to Macaulay Culkin?” and “Was Donald Trump a movie star before he was the President?” which were downers, he also took enjoyment in saying things like, “You know, if this were real life, Marv would totally die in this scene.” Shit, y’all, he’s his dad’s son for sure.
Among some of the conversations that the movies sparked this year was the question of the movies within the movies, Angels with Filthy Souls and Angels with Even Filthier Souls, which are really just a fucking delight, y’all, and I will fight you over that. Anyhoo, Jackson wanted to know if they were real, and he also wanted to know what a Tommy Gun was, which sparked the most interesting, most off the wall, most awkward of all Christmas conversations because, you guys, what actually is a Tommy Gun?
I mean I knew what they were, of course. I knew they were machine guns, and that they had round barrels, but I wondered, and so did Jackson, did they still make them? Why were they a thing? I assumed it had something to do with prohibition, which was right in the sense that a lot of mobsters during that time used them. That led to even better question, “Why did they outlaw alcohol, but not Tommy Guns?” Also, “Why are machine guns still allowed to people who have not been trained to use them?” Also, “Can I have an AK-47 when I turn 18?” Holy shit, yeah. No. No, I mean. Yes, he asked that. No, is the answer. Unless of course he lives in one of the states that currently allows 18 year olds to buy an AK-47, and trust there are several of them. Uh oh, I’m about to get all sorts of off track. Beware.
Listen, I don’t want to put a damper on the holidays for y’all, but this got me thinking. Which got me talking to Jerimiah, and got him Googling and the shit he found was alarming. No, they don’t make Tommy Guns anymore, which were invented by a man named John T. Thompson in 1918 for military use, specifically trench warfare. It started to get picked up by civilians for use during prohibition, and was used exclusively in WWII as well. It was used by the military until the 70s, then better guns came around, but Thompson was not a happy dude when he realized how dangerous his guns could be in the wrong hands. Neither was the government, so in 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which required anyone selling a submachine gun to register with the ATF. The NFA is still in use today, though as we can see, it is sorely antiquated and needs some more common sense laws attached to it. I mean, come on, man. Come the fuck on.
Here’s the other thing, Tommy Guns halted production and had a law made about them because of their shear power. Tommy Guns held 30-or 50-round magazines in their drum and could potentially shoot between 600 and 725 rounds per minute and the government deemed that a problem. In comparison, an AK-47 can hold 30 rounds and has the potential to fire 600 rounds per minute, while the AR-15 tops out around 45 rounds per minute. And guess what, I could drive my happy-ass over state lines today and come back in less than an hour with an AK-47. No mental health checks. No criminal history checks. No nothing. Of course this is a state-by-state ruling and Florida is fucking cray, we already know that, but come on, common sense gun laws anyone? In some of these states an 18-year-old can buy a semi-automatic in less than an hour, but when a woman wants to have an abortion she has to wait six weeks, see a physician and a mental health professional, and potentially hear the embryo’s heartbeat. And don’t even say some shit like, “Apples to oranges, Missy.” Nah, dog. Nah.
Here’s something fun. We have a nephew who is in the military. He was signed, sealed, and deliver to the Army by the time he was 17. At 18-years-old he was prepping for his first deployment, and when he drove back home to the midwest to see family before he left he was not allowed, by law, to have with him his 9mm pistol, which he carries on long road trips alone. He could have, however, an AK-47 if he wanted one. Or any kind of rifle, shotgun, you name it. So a young man, trained in tactical warfare, is not allowed to carry a 9mm, but sure he can load up his Jeep with hundreds of AK-47s if that’s what he wants to do. What the actually fuck, y’all? When you hear the phrase, “Common Sense Gun Laws” that is some of the shit we are talking about.
Whew. I flew off track didn’t I? I said that was gonna happen, huh? Yeah, it’s Christmastime and y’all don’t want to be learning about gun safety, I know, I know, but my son has a Red Ryder BB gun, and he just started playing Call of Duty with his daddy and this is some real shit we have to talk about, and you should all probably consider too. And yeah, give some thought to that whole waiting for an abortion, but no need to wait to buy a gun thing. I mean, an 18-year-old girl, pregnant and alone, could potentially kill herself and her unborn embryo in one shot, and the conservatives are apparently totes fine with that, because you know, that’s her right to gun ownership.
Whew. Okay. Whew.
So yeah, uhh, the Home Alone movies. Haha. They are funny. So. Funny.
Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals. And a Happy New Year.
And I would drive 15,000 more, because I have driven 15,000 miles this year and this isn’t how the song goes. But you did try to sing it to the Proclaimers for a minute, right?! Sure you did. And also, this is no joke. My husband, son, and I have driven 15,000 miles this year, and as you know, the year is not yet over. Look it, we are Midwesterners, so if I’m being honest 15,000 isn’t that much for us. You learn young in the Midwest, that if you want to see the “cool” shit, visit the “neat” places, you have to travel. And no one has money to be hopping on airplanes all the damn time, so you drive. Wanna go to a beach, one on an ocean? You be driving. Wanna go to a cool theme park? That’s a drive. Wanna see some historical shit? Some real, salt-of-the-Earth, Mother Nature, God’s Country type shit? You be driving. Want some culture? Driving. Damn, you just want to see a mountain and maybe snap a pic of an elk or something cool like that? That’s at minimum eight hours in the car. So, yeah, 15,000 miles ain’t no thing, but we aren’t stopping there. Jerimiah just booked our hotels for our New Years Eve vacay, which we will be adding another, ohhh, roughly 3,000 more miles to our total for the year. Don’t worry, I’m SURE I will have stuff to tell y’all about when I get back from Canada, Upstate New York, and New England in the dead of winter… (Note: All the red below are links to what I wrote while I was on these many trips, or just something that happened in that place, if you want to go back and reminisce with me!)
So where have we been this year to be racking up those kinda miles? Well, we started off the year with a road trip to Washington, DC where we participated in the Women’s March with friends. That was some wonderful, scary, sad, frustrating, empowering stuff. It was the week of the government shutdown, so there wasn’t much to do around town, but we did make it to the Holocaust Museum with the kids. Then there were two trips “home” and home here means the Midwest. We went to Kansas in May and then back to Missouri and Oklahoma in June. Then there were the four or five trips we made to Atlanta from Charlotte to find a house, enroll Jackson in school, etc. Then there was the actual move from Charlotte to Atlanta. And there were the subsequent trips back this year to see friends in Charlotte.
These miles do not count all the miles that we flew, and there were several thousands of those too. Mainly Jerimiah and his crazy work schedule this year, but also a trip I took out to Arizona to see one of my best friends.
At one point, six months into living in our new house in DeKalb County, Georgia (pronounced Dee Cab, not Dee Cobb for you Midwesterners) we counted up the actual number of nights that the three of us had been home together and the findings were not good. Not good at all. Meanwhile, we have earned so many airline and hotel points that our next vacation to anywhere, is actually free. That’s a lot of miles and points, y’all. Too many, really.
We aren’t normally this busy. In fact, we are homebodies, I know that is hard to believe, but we prefer to be at home. We prefer our own beds. Jesus, it took me months to pick out my bed and I LOVE it. And I like my own bathroom and well, just my own shit, you know? But, if you always stay where you are, you will never get anywhere. So we go. We travel, we move when we need to in order to better ourselves. We linger in new places for a few days, we see new sights, meet new people. We are travelers. Lucky to be able to do it, excited about what is around the next corner. But coming home is always nice too.
So there you have it, 15,000 miles worth of traveling so far this year, hoping to make it to 18,000, and hoping to add to our experiences, our fun, our love for our country, our friends, our family, and the world. Thanks for sharing in our adventures!
I know a very lovely woman who is sweet and compassionate and well-educated. She loves her children and she loves Jesus, and although her and I do not agree on some things politically, we can still be sociable. She is wonderful to talk to. Her kids are sweet, and she has a knack for always saying something nice, just the thing you need to hear, when you see her. She is still accepting of my f-bombs on social media, meaning she still hasn’t blocked me or hidden me like some of my “friends” and family members (I see y’all. I see you. Please just delete me!) But there is one thing that we are very, very far apart on, and that is the topic of abortion.
To be fair, I have never had a conversation on the topic with her. I just know, from social media, that she is anti-abortion. She knows, I assume, that I am pro-choice. And both of us just take the higher road, which is something I wish I could say for a lot more people. But alas, life isn’t so much about open discussions anymore, as much as it is about “being right,” and that is sad and a bit scary.
Having said all of this, I have to share a picture that I came across the other day from her newsfeed. She was explaining that her church, or a local church maybe not hers, made a mobile clinic to go to the rural areas in the counties near them and do ultrasounds, and pregnancy tests, and discuss options with women. And honestly, I support that. I know there are a ton of woman, a lot of them young, a lot of them scared. A lot of them in need of some kind of support, and this might be the key to helping them. Some might just stop in to get a free pregnancy test and a hug, some might just to see their baby on the screen. Some might still go to a local abortion clinic, some might choose “the word of God” like they promise. Either way, it seems it is one more thing that is helping women who might need it. It is a group taking action. And there is an awful lot of talk and no action these days. But they have done something that angers me so much when it comes to anti-abortion propaganda. They have misrepresented a fetus.
Now am I more offended by this because I had a baby who was not anatomically correct? Probably. My daughter was born with half a heart, half a brain, a severe cleft palate rendering her unable to eat, and her intestines formed outside of her body. So yeah, this is a touchy subject for me. But, this is something that anti-abortion people do to make women feel bad for even considering abortion. And they wonder why people react like I do when I talk to them. Let me share the picture.
These are not actual representations of a fetus, and we have to stop pretending like they are. You see that 12-week embryo/fetus there? That is not what your 12-week-old gestational baby looks like, because there is no such thing as a 12-week-old gestational baby. See that 16-week-old “baby,” that is not an accurate depiction of a 16-week-old gestational “baby.” That is not what your 22-week-old baby looks like. Ask me how I know what a 22-week-old fetus looks like…
I understand wanting to get women thinking about embryos and fetuses like babies, but give us some credit here, y’all. Give us some damn credit. And we will try to give y’all a little bit of grace. I know you think you’re doing God’s work here. But so do we. The difference is, we aren’t being deceptive.
I don’t know what I am suggesting, other than to get rid of these damn dolls and speak truth. Real medical science. Listen to the women. Don’t just push your agenda. And remember, remember above all else, no one is keeping score here. You don’t get extra points for “saving a baby,” but imagine how satisfying it could be to save the life of a teen girl who got herself into a really bad situation and you are her only hope out.
Think. Love. Act. But most importantly love, regardless of anything.
I had my annual exam this morning with my new doctor in Atlanta. There wouldn’t normally be much to report, it’s usually the same old song and dance. I need to lose weight. Get my medication right. But today I met my new NP, and things were different. She’s sweet, and young, and resourceful. She’s an immigrant, who left Iran ten years ago with her brother to escape religious persecution. She was raised in the Bahá’í Faith. It’s a more progressive sect of Islam. Women are viewed as equals in her religion, but still not in Iran. In Iran she was treated poorly because of her religion. She was not allowed to go to college. Her parents could not own a business, or work for the government, schools, etc. they can only work for private companies. The ones that will hire them. Her life was hard growing up, and if it weren’t for her opportunity to come here, she isn’t sure where she would be.
She didn’t just offer up this information about herself, of course. She just asked a normal “doctor” question.
NP: How many pregnancies?
NP: How many children?
This is when the doctor usually says she’s sorry for my loss. She may ask what happened, depending on what I’m there for, she may not. Today my sweet, young, Farsi-speaking NP simply said, “Tell me about your baby.”
What came next was a ten-minute conversation about how abortion, especially ones like mine, where the baby isn’t viable, are totally okay in Iran. In most of that part of the world. That this stigma here in the US, we did that to ourselves, and she thinks it’s nuts. “No one,” she told me, “No one in Iran would have expected you to carry your daughter to full-term. You’d seem crazy to them if you did that.” She went on to tell me a bit about her life and religion. She told me she thinks the powers that be in her new country, our country, use the issue of abortion to hide what they are actually doing. It’s all a game with them. They don’t see the women.
It’s weird, and a little funny how things happen. I forget that sometimes. I’ve been torturing myself all week. A wreck with guilt, as I am every year around this time, for something that I just shouldn’t have guilt about.
I was reminded of this today. I was reminded by someone who didn’t need to know my why, or my how, or my when. She just needed to see the struggle in my eyes. She put her hand on my shoulder as I struggled to sit upright, my open gown covering nothing of my upper body, my breasts hanging out all over the place, and she said, “Look at me.” I looked at her. “I would have done the same thing you did. You’re strong. Strong to know the toll that would take on you. Strong mentally to know what was best for you and to do it.” Then she took my hand and helped me sit straight up. Helped me close up the front of my gown. Helped me straighten my crown.
There’s good out there, y’all. Everyday, everywhere. And it comes to you when you need it.
Something funny has occurred on my Facebook feed. Listen, I know I talk about Facebook way too much, but it is in fact how I stay connected to most of my family members, where I share pics of Jackson, and also where I get my news, besides Jerimiah’s weird, but informative podcasts. The funny thing that happened is all my friends and family members who were/are Trump supporters no longer share Trump things. Instead, they share things like recipes, and positive quotes, and a lot of stuff about God. Then they implore all of us on FB to “keep it positive” by not sharing political stuff. Meanwhile, a year ago that is all they shared, hate-fueled, non-factual, political stuff.
So now here I am wondering: Do they still support Trump or are they FINALLY embarrassed about what they have done? I’m also thinking, nah, I won’t be just sharing positive stuff, because we don’t live in a positive world and those Trump supporters are to blame for it. So, they can keep seeing my political/sad stuff or they can unfriend me. Their choice. You don’t get to run your mouth and say mean and hurtful things, then get a pass because you had a “change of heart”. I see you. I know you. And now I know the kind of person you really are.
I’m thinking about all this today because I am wondering about the next election. I am wondering if they will feel compelled enough to not vote the same way again. They got us into this mess, they should be the ones to step up and get us out. But they won’t. We know that. It is up to us, y’all. I am positive about that. We have to keep doing what we are doing. Bringing the injustices to the forefront, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes people feel. It needs to stay fresh in their minds, in our minds, in all of our hearts. This evil that has taken over needs to be remembered come time for elections. We can’t sweep it under the rug, not now, not ever. Something has changed in our country and there is no ignoring it.
The Georgia Democratic Party came to my door yesterday. The representative was a lovely man, with a deep, deep desire to overturn HB 481, Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act; enact which was introduced this session by the following people:
Ed Setzler, 35th district
Jodi Lott, 122nd district
Darlene Taylor, 173rd district
Josh Bonner, 72nd district
Ginny Ehrhart, 36th district
Micah Gravely, 67th district
It’s important to name the enemy of the people.
It’s also important to say that, while Atlanta Metro is a bright blue dot in a red state, the 7th district still has pockets of deep, deep racial divide. Including, but not limited to, the town of Cumming, Ga who up until the 1990s had a sign at their town entrance warning “N-words” to stay away.
I needed this reminder. We all need this reminder. There is nastiness, racism, injustice, hate, and bigotry in our country and it comes from the top. We aren’t bottling it up. We aren’t sweeping over it with recipes and pictures of dogs playing with sticks. This is real. And the people who no longer want to face it are the people who help make it this way. So no, I won’t be “keeping it positive” to make you feel better. This is us now.
Stay strong, y’all. And remember to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
A whirlwind is really the only way to describe the four days that we spent in Washington D.C. this last weekend. A complete whirlwind. Jerimiah, Jackson, and I have been to D.C. once before, but only for one day while we were visiting Jerimiah’s mom in Maryland. Back then Jackson was just learning to walk, we had not yet made it to his first birthday, and President Obama had just been sworn into office. In short, we were in a very different time in our lives. So was our country.
Fast forward ten years and suddenly my little guy, who last time in D.C. was toddling across the Washington Monument, was marching down Pennsylvania Avenue, a smile on his face and a megaphone in his hand. He was marching for women’s rights. He was marching for his friends and his family. He was marching for his mommy and for his sister. He was marching for his own reasons too, recalling the first time he heard President Trump talk about “the wall” and asking whether his Hispanic friend, Angel, would be sent away. He made up his own chant: “Be a leader, not a Tweeter!” It was sort of, well, perfect.
Though Jackson may not have grasped what was happening around him, may not have caught the meaning of many of the signs, or heard the rumblings under foot of anti-semitism, or noticed the anti-abortion counter protesters, at one point he walked up next to me, grabbed my hand and said, “Mommy, I see why we came now.” And that was all I needed to hear. I, on the other hand, I had been a mess leading up to last Saturday.
The idea to go to the Women’s March had come to my friend Beth and me (like most of our ideas) in a bursting blaze of wine and lingering indignation. We were at my kitchen island one evening a couple of weeks before, catching up on our recent holidays (complaining really about lack of sleep and lack of sound judgement) when she said, “Hey, the Women’s March is in a couple of weeks, wanna go and take the family?” “Uh, duh,” I responded, as I finished off the bottle of my Target “Clearance” red, and she started pulling up AirBnBs on her phone. It wasn’t long before we had roped in both husbands, our friend Meredith and her two sons, and a third friend, Merrily, who like Beth had the experience of the first march under her belt. The house was booked, the days requested off, the scene was set. Then came the shitstorm.
First there was the weather. I mean, who could have possibly known there would be a Nor’easter in January?! No one. No one could have predicted that. Washington got what five inches the week before the march. Or was it 15? 50? I dunno, but the temps were about to, as Lil Jon, The East Side Boyz, and Ying Yang Twins would say, “Get low, get low, get low, get low…” Yeah. It got low.
Then days before, the news broke about the march administrators. Now I can’t really speak a lot to this. I caught it in passing, Beth could probably tell you more, but it seemed like women fighting each other and accusing each other of saying things that should not have been said. It made people nervous. It made people scared to come to the march, scared to stand in solidarity with one another. Honestly I stayed far away from it, figuring I’d learn more when we were actually there, seeing these women in person.
Then there was the news of the change of venue. Originally the Women’s March had obtained a permit to march at the National Mall, but with the shutdown, the National Parks Service was afraid they would not be able to keep the mall clean and the snow removed in time for the march, so at the last minute a permit was issued for 10,000 to march on Pennsylvania Avenue. The one saving grace that the march would go right by Trump’s Washington Hotel, all was not lost.
Then the night before our president himself tried to steal the thunder by saying he would make a “Big, Yuge, Terrific” announcement at 3:00 pm on the day of the march. Then it was promptly changed to 4:00 pm, considering that is when the march ended. I think he knew better than to piss off 10,000 women marching past his house. Good on him.
Then of course, was the fact that hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans had gone without pay for a month now. That weighed heavy on our minds and our hearts, and we tried to figure out how we could help them, while marching at the same time.
Le sigh. It was sort of chaotic to say the least, but still, we persisted.
Everyone made it to DC safely, having made the six hour drive from Charlotte on Friday. Saturday morning came and our crew readied ourselves for the street, even though we were all a bit groggy and some of us were, ahem, a bit hungover. The kids though, they were amped up! They had their signs (most of them made by Beth) and their megaphone and their marching shoes. Not to mention their hats, gloves, and layers of clothes. (In the end though, this day would prove to be the warmest of our time there.)
They boys seemed hellbent on making as much noise as they could, as well as giving out a number of “free hugs”, cause yeah, these are cool kids. Meanwhile, Morgan (the lone girl in the kid group) showed up ready for battle, her handmade sign garnering a lot of attention from us, as well as many people at the march. We will call her, well, wise beyond her years. (Basically, she pities ‘da fool.)
At this point no one had any idea how many people would be at the march, what the scene would look like, how the marchers would react to one another, and whether it would be anything like the other two marches. I had never been to a march, period. I was nervous, I was anxious, and I was a little numb to what I was walking into. But I was ready. We all were. We were ready for whatever was headed our way, snacks and toe warmers in our bags, and smiles on our faces. At about 10:15 a.m. the whole crew took off from our house for the metro. We were only five stops away from the crowd that awaited us.
About twenty minutes later we rounded the corner of Freedom Plaza and saw a sight that I am not sure we expected. Well, I didn’t expect it. Thousands of men, women, and children lined the streets. Vendors selling merchandise, food, and hot coffee. Pink hats, 12 foot signs, and amped up fellow Americans ready to take to the streets together in love and in light. It was all a little much for me to take in.
There was so much to see. It was like being at a circus, a parade, a concert, and a play all at once. There were smiles and voices. There were high fives and handshakes. There were hugs, lots of hugs. There were women crying. There were funny signs and serious signs and necessary signs. There was a camaraderie I don’t think I was fully prepared for. I simply stood, silently looking around trying to take it all in, trying to sear this image into my mind to recall at a later time, on an idle Thursday when I am in bed, my blankets pulled up over my head and I am sad. I wanted to bottle it. I wanted to capture the essence of the mood, the sight, the sounds all around me. In short, it was pretty fucking cool.
We started marching and chanting and laughing and hugging promptly at 11 am. The march was just around one city block, but it took about two hours. In the middle of it Merrily, Beth, and I popped into a coffee shop to get the crew all warmed up with cups of joe, when a slight scare happened upon us. Meredith came in asking if we had seen Cooper. He had walked over to throw something in a trash can and the sea of people had swept him away. We tried to remain calm. He had his cell phone. The crowd was slow moving. And we had eyes all over.
His momma ended up finding him just a few feet away after a frantic look for about ten minutes. When he had realized he was separated from the group, he found a police officer and stood by him, looking for us and trying to call his mom. (Did I mention how smart these kids are?!) He seemed okay, we were all a little shaken up, though no one wanted to admit it, and after a small break to regroup we joined the masses again. At one point after we found him, Beth, Meredith, and I all looked at each other, a knowing smile spreading across our faces. Had we been worried? Yes. But this was a sea of mommies. A sea of grandmothers. Of women who have birthed and held and bathed these babies, the generations before us. Women who have seen more in their lives than we ever will. Our babies would be just fine among them.
As the march wrapped up we saw more sights that conjured up pictures from the 1970s. Women in trees leading chants, women in bikinis (in that weather! Oh my goodness we wanted to put sweaters on them!) women holding hands, forming chains, women screaming, women with fists in the air, women with an air of determination to be heard and seen. And they were.
Around 1 p.m. the march wrapped up at Freedom Plaza where a stage had been erected to house the speakers, of which there were many. There were speakers from the Women’s March itself, the very women who were reportedly arguing just days before taking the stage, including Tamika Mallory who went after the rumors head on, telling her Jewish sisters, “I see you.”
About 3 p.m. the kids lost steam. It started to sprinkle and everyone was a little hungry. That’s when Beth’s husband Dave, Meredith, and Merrily offered to take the kids for food and all meet back later. Beth and I wanted to stay to see more of the rally and Jerimiah was sort of along for the ride, so we split up. I’m not sure what the other group did, but I was sent screenshots of giant cinnamon rolls, so it must have been good! Beth, Jerimiah, and I walked to the other side of Freedom Plaza to try to get a better view of the stage. That is when we found the counter-protesters.
Calling them counter-protesters might not be accurate, I don’t know what they were or why they were there. I don’t know who they were trying to scare or upset. I don’t know whether they were there on their own ambitions or whether they were paid by some larger organization, though my money is on the latter. But they were there, and they weren’t going anywhere.
At first I didn’t see them. In fact I stepped right past them and didn’t even notice their signs, as I was fixated on trying to get closer to the stage and by this time of the day was ignorant to signs above my head. It wasn’t until Beth and Jerimiah made eyes at each other and Beth said, “They are trying to cover up their signs” that I looked over. There was a circle of women standing in front of a young man. They had him surrounded and they were holding their signs up above their heads, ushering people around him. I stepped around Jerimiah to get a better view. That’s when I saw the man’s sign.
It was a graphic depiction of a “late-term abortion”. Graphic in the sense that it was made to conjure up a disgusting scene of a dead baby, supposedly at five months gestation, outside of its mother’s body, cut up in many parts and covered in blood. Of course it was a depiction. It was not an actual baby, but a doll made to look like one. On the other side of the sign was what appeared to be a dead woman. It was all very morose. I spun back around trying to again focus on the stage, but I could not get that image out of my mind, which I what I assume they wanted.
Within a couple of minutes I found myself standing in front of the man, my signs held up above my head, giving the other women in the group a reprise from the sign holding. Beth was next to me holding her signs and Jerimiah was across from us blocking the signs of a young woman who had popped up. I’m not sure how long we stood there, but it felt like half an hour or so. At one point I lowered may sign and another woman took over for me, so I could take a picture of Jerimiah across from me. Another image I wanted seared into my brain for later.
It wasn’t long before I overheard a discussion behind me. Another young woman had shown up, anti-abortion signs in hand, to spew ignorance at the crowd. Some marchers had stopped to try to talk to her. It sounded like a civil discussion. No one was yelling, no one was even raising their voice. The young woman was talking about science. About how babies are made at conception. About how they feel pain during an abortion. About how babies are “sawed into pieces” to get them to come out.
I stepped in. I didn’t plan to. My body sort of just moved over to her. I knew as I was walking that I shouldn’t do it. I felt the emotion rising up in me. I felt my head getting hot, giving me this sort of groggy feeling. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the cold, or the steam forming at the corners of my eyes, but I walked up and I told her Lydia’s story. I started with, “I gave birth to a dead baby.” The crowd of women went silent and all their eyes turned to me, the young anti-abortionist as well. They listened intently. They listened to me describe the chromosomal disorder. They listened to be explain the choice I had. The one I had because abortion is legal. They listened to me say her name, over and over again. Lydia. Lydia. Lydia.
Then when I was finished. When the tears were streaming down my face, Evangeline, the woman who was holding the disgusting sign said, “I’m sorry that happened to you, but that is different.” I wanted to scream at her. IT IS NOT DIFFERENT. But I didn’t. Eventually I walked away. I felt beaten down. I felt abused and assaulted. Even now today, I am not sure why.
Later that night I wasn’t so cordial with the crew. We ended up all meeting again at our AirBnB. I got to hear Jackson tell me all about the big cinnamon rolls, and listen to the kids run around upstairs playing Harry Potter and Monopoly and recounting the fun they had that day. I lay in my room, listening the talking and the laughing and the love being passed around the table. Everyone came to check on me. Beth and Meredith offered encouragement, you’re not alone, we are here if you want to talk. Jerimiah offered his love. His strength. His solidarity. After all, we had went through it together. Always together.
I eventually drifted off to sleep that night with horrific images in my mind, but I dreamed about my daughter. About the women I had met that day. About the women I have come to know. Come to call my friends. About all the daughters and all the women and all the lives that were lost, are lost. All the women I marched for.
It’s been a few days of processing for me. And I’m still working through my experience, but so far there is one thing I am sure about. I am so happy that I was able to be part of the Women’s March. I am so happy that I was able to use my voice for those who cannot. I am so happy that I stood with my husband and son by my side. That Jackson saw a strength in his mommy that he may have forgotten existed. That he saw his Daddy triumphantly helping women. That he understands what our powers can be used for. I am so happy that I stood alongside friends that I did. Women of caliber like those with me that day. I am so happy to have those women in my life. In my heart.
I am so happy to think that my daughter knows what I do, how I share her story, how I speak of her and about her, is to remember her. To better the lives of all girls and women, to keep her present always in this world and in my heart. I am so happy to have been on the right side of history. To have walked the walk many before us have walked. To have done my part, as tiny and as insignificant as it seems, I know in my heart that it made a difference for someone. And that will carry me for many more years.
I’ll leave you with this thought: As women we can’t allow the world to change us, to rearrange us, to divide us, or to deride us. We have to act responsibly and respectively toward one another if we are to get anywhere. We have to lift each other up, step on the backs of those who first carried us, then become the backs for the younger generations to hoist theirselves on top of. We are part of a fold like no other. And we must welcome each other with open arms, open minds, and open hearts.
I feel like a broken record sometimes, y’all. And believe me, I know what a broken record feels like. Just last week my dog ate one of my vinyls, Alabama’s Greatest Hits. At first I was so distraught, all I could do was throw myself onto the floor in a fetal position and cry, while I slowly sang:
There’s an old flame, burning in your eyes That tears can’t drown, and make-up can’t disguise
Yeah, it was as emotionally-charged and odd as it seems. But later, when I tried to duct tape the record back together, telling Sir Duke Barkington that I wasn’t so much mad, as I was disappointed, I realized maybe it was a lost cause.
Maybe a lot of what I try to fix is a lost cause. Maybe a lot of people I try to convince are lost causes, not because they aren’t capable of learning, knowing, or growing, but because they are shut off to anything they do not understand, anything that scares them, anything that goes against their beliefs, set in stone, unchanging.
This past Saturday I had an encounter with an anti-abortion protester at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.. I have never been face to face with a person like this before. Her name was Evangeline, she introduced herself after she asked my name. I told her it was Missy, and that I was the mother of a daughter who was not alive because she was very sick. Because she could not live outside of my body. Then I told her, unprovoked, Lydia’s story in short. She smiled as I spoke and nodded her head along like she was listening, but when I was finished she said just this: “I am sorry that happened to you. That is different than an abortion.” I explained that is not different. That in my hospital discharge paperwork I was released after having had a “late-term abortion”. And that if abortion rights were taken from women, I would not have had that choice.
She again smiled and said that she was sorry that happened to me but that my case “was different”, and most people just don’t “understand science”. I asked her what she meant by that, and she told me that babies are made at conception. I explained that my own children, one born healthy, one not, were fetal poles until 6 weeks gestation, no heartbeats, just a cluster of cells (I had ultrasounds to show it) and she again said, “I am sorry you do not understand science.”
I am sorry you do not understand science. I am sorry, but your case is different. I am sorry you do not understand science. I am sorry, but your case is different.
Around and around and around.
I am sorry, but your case is different.
I am sorry you do not understand science.
I am sorry, but your case is different.
My husband and best friend moved to block other anti-abortion protesters with their signs as I spoke with this woman, who was utterly mis-informed and completely lacked the ability to reason for herself. All I can hope is that when she packed up her signs, promptly at 3:00 pm (we assume she was paid to be there for a certain time) that she thought about my words and my story as she walked back to her warm van.
I know that sometimes I sound like a broken record. And I apologize for that. I apologize that you all have to keep reading my words and listening to Lydia’s story, especially when it makes you uncomfortable or brings up your own memories that you would rather forget. But for those of you still around, I applaud you. I thank you.
I see you. Trying to understand, to learn, to support me and the millions of women like me. Because there is no difference. There is no difference between my case and the millions of others. We are all women. Women doing what is best for us, for our mental health, for our economic or educational success, for our children, for our families, for our futures. And until EVERYONE can attempt to understand, can accept that legislating morality will not be tolerated, and can give grace, even to those who they fundamentally disagree with, then I will keep spinning this record. Around and around and around.