My cousin Diana texted this afternoon, “Are your socks wet yet?”
I am not sure how many of you have ever experienced a kidney stone. I have several times. It is incredibly painful. Women say it is worse than childbirth. I don’t believe that, but I do know that after giving birth, if all the stars align, you get to hold a child in your arms. The end of a kidney stone passing is the most undramatic event you could ever imagine. It is just the tiniest of piece of a stone landing in the toilet, and all you are left with is your normal self again with no pain.
These past 4 days I was in intense agony.
They say your body is trying to tell you something when it causes you pain but what could this message be? My kidneys could not have been following the news. Yet, I had been holding so much in from the moment I looked stunned at the screen when they announced he had won in November 2016, and through all the tears the next day in the school yard - but how could my body know what this was? I had been absorbing chapter after chapter ad nauseam of ugliness and hatefulness and witnessing such bad manners but I was also drinking lots of water. At the very end of these 4 years, my body formed the tiniest little stone and it was causing me unbearable pain.
Finally last night my body passed what had been giving me so much misery. It was as unremarkable as anything could be. What it did do was allow me to feel everything today. To sit with my children and wife as our country showed itself proud and pulled the curtain back on something we were afraid might be gone forever. After we collectively exhaled watching that plane fly off, we inhaled and tasted the air like we had not done in so long.
Everything on the screen today made my socks wet. The oath. The invitation from an elderly statesman telling us we are all on the same team. The poet. The POET! The mall as a work of art, transformed from the violent weeks before into something solemn and illuminated and beautiful. MADAME Vice President. The embrace at the front door. Van Jones - you know we are going to cry with you when you look up and yell, “Hallelujah!” The POET! - I need to see you again and again. Your fingers dancing as your words ring true. “When day comes, we ask ourselves: Where can we find light?”
I thought only photographers did that.
My son Asher came up to me at my first gasp of pain last Friday and said, “I will always love you.” I wasn’t going away but I did get to hold those words as I rode through the next days in my fog. Sitting with Asher and Jackson today watching Biden's speech where every single word was a lesson in our country holding out unity as a shared mission just felt like....like oxygen.
These events are full of cliches. It is a big umbrella. For right now, it feels like just what we need. And maybe we should all stay a bit more hydrated while we dry out our socks.