I Miss Tom

There's a couple dozen times and places in my life where I can transport myself with a deep inhalation of breath and a quiet room. There's perhaps a few places where, no matter the bustle, the grief, the chaos around me, even gasping for air, I could find myself in an instant.

The one I'm thinking of today is Statuary Hall in the Capitol Building during Tom Lantos's memorial. I remember listening to Ellie Wiesel speak, and his words fading in and out as the sun came bursting through the cupola window above my head. I remember the swell of souls in the room, and making one of the most sacred vows of my life, that I would not forget or neglect Tom's work. We must stand firm against atrocities, we must reward movements of equality, we must live and enjoy these precious brief lives that we have no right and every right to live.

The ways that I have feebly gone about upholding that vow are embarrassingly distant from what I thought they would be, and sometimes I feel as though I've done more than my share of enjoying my life and not enough standing firm.

As atrocities of all kinds, in all countries, whip around us in the heat of summer unrest, I miss Tom and his unbending and unapologetic demands for human rights. I wish he were here to tell us what to do. This morning, as I punched off NPR in the car and fought back the sting of hopeless tears about our human calamities and my uselessness in it, I suppose you could say that I had an experience of sorts. My claim to spirituality is a complicated one, to say the least, but call it what you will- enlightenment, inspiration, The Ghost of Hanukkah Past- but the calm and quiet thought that entered my head was a clear one.

Keep going. Keep learning. Keep growing. That time will come.

For a brief moment, I felt like my experiences in this life all added up and made sense and had their place...and quickly the lights went dim again and here I was with these peculiar jobs and a long commute.

So I'm going to try and do that. I'm going to keep living the exact life I have, but maybe with the deeply held hope that it will all add up someday. Even if it never does, I think it would be a better way to live.

And in the meantime, I hold the tender innocent citizens of this planet securely in my heart, and hope that a voice of reason, compromise and mercy will inspire the leaders of those who hold those innocent lives in their hands. Enough mothers have sobbed into their skirts already.


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