I am sad. June 9th was the anniversary of my father’s death in 1979 and June 8th was his birth date. That’s how last week began. One of the things that rocked me on Monday morning (June 8th) was not realizing what day it was until I sat down at my desk. Never had I not anticipated my father’s memorial and birthday. I felt mad at myself for not remembering. The barrage of emotions surrounding the pandemics of COVID and racism aside, this is my father.
On top of not having the presence of mind to anticipate the dates, I had no yahrzeit candle — the candle Jewish people light in remembrance of someone who’s passed. My father was Catholic, but I still light the candle and put a photo of him next to it every year. This year, I only had a small, scented, blue tea light votive to light. It went out in a couple of hours, unlike the 24 hours that the memorial candle lasts.
The sadness really hit on Wednesday. I didn’t connect it to my father at first. I connected it to my macro and micro preoccupations: mass protests seeking justice for black lives, the rise in COVID cases due to the economy opening back up, my son wanting to go surfing now that the beaches are open, and feeling horrible about all the Netflix my teenage boys are watching. But all those things had activated familiar anger and frustration – I’d stayed far away from sadness. I know how to be angry. I know how to be frustrated. Sadness takes me out, makes me want to crawl up and disappear. I tell myself I can’t afford that luxury.
Then, someone texted me and asked if I was “hopeful.” No. I’m not hopeful that racism will finally be addressed in the U.S.
That really made me sad.
On July 13th Rayshard Brooks was shot in Atlanta, Georgia by a white police officer. Rayshard was inebriated. I read that he had been in the area to visit his mother’s grave (and to celebrate one of his daughter’s birthdays). I envision the sign, “I am Rayshard Brooks” as I think about us both grieving the loss of a parent. Had I let myself get drunk, had I gone to Wendy’s, had I passed out behind the steering wheel, had I black skin, might I, too, be dead?
Yes, I am sad.
That’s all there is to say.
Photo by Annie Spratt www.unsplash.com