A Phoenix Rises

There is a time. There is a season, for everything. Trying to make sense of the mess we’re in is challenging. It’s much easier to say fuck it and retreat from life, from the pain of the world’s inhumanity. Life sucks, and then you die. End of story.

I’ve had moments in my life when I felt that way … most recently as I watched George Floyd murdered at the knee of a police officer and as I witnessed Minneapolis and cities across America erupt in flames. After all these years, I thought we were closer to a better, more perfect union. The anger and frustration of people of color is still strong, and rightly so. Martin Luther King, Rodney King….why haven’t we learned? How may cities have to burn before we hear their voices? Fuck it, life sucks.

Just when I’m feeling deflated, there’s that one sign that appears out of nowhere that knocks me up side the head, reminding me, urging me onward.

In Joseph M. Marshall III’ s book Keep Going, a young man asks, “Grandpa, why is life so difficult?” Old Hawk replies, “Life is a journey sometimes walked in the light, sometimes in shadow …. There is love to overcome hate; generosity can diminish greed; truthfulness can reveal the lies in the same way the wind dries the flood and rains end the drought. That is life — it is what it is.”

More than 110,000 souls have perished in the United States of COVID-19. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters. Systemic, ingrained racial injustice is fueling the fiery flames of unrest that are rising in our cities. Damn it, it’s not supposed to be like this.

In the midst of the fire and chaos, a baby is born.

From the ashes rises the phoenix.

In a stark maternity suite, hovered over by unidentifiable figures, draped head to toe in plastic shields, masks, gloves and foot coverings, a fearful mother gives birth with no one allowed in to witness the happy moment. No hugs of celebration. No attagirls from family. Perhaps there are smiles from the medical team, but who knows. You can’t see expressions behind the sterile masks.

A sci-fi movie, not reality. Damn it, it’s not supposed to be like this.

That is life. It is what it is.

Little Elijah, my grandson, born 7 pounds, 9 ounces, entered the universe yesterday in the midst of a catastrophic plague and unprecedented civil unrest. Born healthy in the shadow of a very sick world. A light in the darkness.

The phoenix rises.

Precious little man, you have no clue what’s ahead. Hell, I have no clue what’s ahead, but then I have no clue about a lot of things. I thought I’d have had it figured out by now.

Little Elijah, I’m sorry that the world’s so fucked up. You weren’t supposed to be born in a pandemic or in a great depression with the economy in a tailspin. When you were born, racism and civil injustice was supposed to be a thing of the past. I wanted better for you and your brother.

We were supposed to have left you a better world, but our generation, the baby boomers who once fought for peace, equal rights, and change, fell asleep at the wheel. We became old and complacent in our selfishness, our greed, our white privilege, our entitlement. We stopped caring about others. We fiddled while Rome burned.

That is life. It is what it is.

Right now, you are only a two-dimensional photograph, not a real being I can touch or hold. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

On the upside, after months of quarantine, I now have your brother for a few days while you and your mom are in the hospital. I will hold him and kiss him and pretend sometimes he’s you.

Someday, I will hold you and smother you with the kisses you missed because of COVID-19. Someday we will play, and your face will light up with a huge smile like your brother does when he sees me. Someday the dark shadow over the world will fade. Someday.

Times like these accentuate the fact that, as much as I want to, I can’t protect you from the scraped knees, the heartbreak, or the fears and temptations that life will throw at you. And I can’t protect you from greater evils … pandemics, war, or man’s inhumanity to man. I can only love you. You are our only hope for a better world. You are the phoenix that rose from the ashes of a shattered America, a bright spot to remind us to keep going.

I can only leave you Old Hawk’s wisdom.

“Grandfather says this: You did not ask to be born, but you are here. You have weaknesses as well as strengths. You have both because in life there is two of everything. Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose. Within you is the heart to feel compassion as well as the smallness to be arrogant. Within you is the way to face life as well as the fear to turn away from it.”

Joseph M. Marshall III — Keep Going, The Art of PERSEVERANCE

That is life. It is what it is.

Choose well, grandson.

Published by Crazy Cleveland Cat Lady

A crazy Cleveland cat lady, writer, PR queen, web geek, and granny, who is aging gracefully alone. Welcome to my journey.

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