Four years ago today was one of the most nerve-racking of my life. We had worked so hard. Hundreds of phone calls, hours and hours knocking on doors with two kids in a jog stroller in tow, yard signs, bumper stickers, it seemed never ending. And then it was over. All the campaigning, the hoping, the praying, the wishing. There was nothing left to do, but wait. Wait and see what choice our country would make.
I still remember that night. I made Michelle Obama’s apple brown betty and Uncle Larry and Uncle Barry came over to watch the results roll in. We were all nervous. There was so much to lose. The kids paraded around in their Obama shirts until bedtime. A sleepy Sylvia asked “Did our guy win?”. “I don’t know yet, baby.” “I hope he does.” “I know you do, honey. Me, too.”
Every time they called a state for Obama, Larry, Barry, Seth, and I cheered. When they called Virginia, Larry (who had also logged hundreds of volunteer hours for the campaign) and I teared up. We jumped off the couch and hugged. “We did it!” So many hours. So much work. So much hope. It was an incredible experience.
As a new American citizen, it was Seth’s first election. He was elated. “I can’t believe he won!” “You know, they don’t all go like that” I reminded him. “I know, but this feels pretty great.”
After we finally went to bed that night, I wrote this letter to the kids:
Dear Sylvia and Lucas-
Tonight we elected a new president.
What seems like a long time ago, you guys and Daddy and I started knocking on complete strangers’ doors to tell them why we believed in a young, black, senator, with a funny name, born a half a world away, and raised by a single mom. We talked to them about change and about our hope for the future. For your future.
Tonight feels like the end of a very long race. But less like the end than the beginning of something good. Tonight, my darlings, I am thinking of you. You each came into the world in a scary way. Both of you not breathing, not sure whether to enter this life, or remain where you came from. Since that moment, your dad and I have worked every day to make sure that you made the right choice. That this life would be worth it. We have tried to make the world a better place for you.
Tonight, I sit here in amazement. Did this really happen? Did our country actually make the same choice the two of you did? To take a chance on this life?
I find myself thinking of your great-great grandparents. The choice their families made to pack everything they owned, leave everything they knew, and cross an ocean, just for the mere chance that life might be better here. I always wondered why they took such a chance when so many did not. Once I had you two, I had my answer. They hoped, like Daddy and I do, that life might be better for the next generation. They had hope.
Tonight, I feel a little like you two and your great-great grandparents. On the verge of a journey where I cannot see the coastline, but I know it is out there, and I have hope that it will be better than where we came from.
The future lies with you two. You will be the judges of our journey. I hope tonight was the first step in giving you the future you both deserve.
I love you both so very much-
Four years later, it doesn’t quite feel the same. To say that these last four years have been more difficult than I imagined doesn’t begin to cover it. At times I have fallen off the bandwagon. At times I have lost my faith.
But today, I still believe. I still believe that we are on the journey, the path to something better. I still can’t see the coastline, but I know it is out there. I have faith.
And so, like four years ago, I am left with nothing to do but wait to see who this country will chose.
And like four years ago, I still have hope.