Monday, November 03, 2008


It is no secret that I am a fan of Senator Obama. I admire much of what he stands for both as a person and as a symbol for what this nation has been, is and can be. But what has fascinated me the most about his campaign has not been his proposals or his opinions, no matter how much I may agree with them.

It has been Toot.

In many ways the relationship that Barack Obama has had with his grandmother reminds me of my own experience. I should preface this by noting that all of my grandparents and my father have been an incredible source of strength and love and support. But after my mom decided to estrange herself from me, it was my dad's mother who really filled out that maternal role in my life. When she passed away in 2004 it was one of the strangest swirl of emotions that I have ever faced. On the one hand, I had moved in with her prior to her needing to live in a hospice care center, and had witnessed the horrible spread of cancer as it came out of remission and spread from her breasts, to her other organs, bone marrow, and finally to the brain. I was happy to see her released from pain and dementia. On the other hand, I lost one of the most important people in my life.

When I heard that Senator Obama was suspending his campaign to go visit his grandmother in Hawaii, all those phantom emotions of grief and pain resurfaced. Because while he has had to remain cool and confident on the campaign trail, I know the other thoughts that have been hanging around out back. Anyone who has lost someone significant to them knows those thoughts. Grief is not aware of our work schedules, it does not listen to us when we want to escape into a movie theater. The pangs of loss always rear their head at our most triumphant moments. So, if he is elected tomorrow, then as he gives his acceptance speech, I guarantee that Toot will be in his mind whether he mentions her or not. The same will go for the inaugural address. For me it was the moment I received my acceptance letter to Fuller, and then again when I received my diploma. Me-maw, and Pa-Paw were there, and the grief rose up, and then joy mixed with it, leaving the wonderful mix of emotion the makes your stomach turn sour and your tear ducts moisten.

At the end of it all, this shared experience is not enough for me to vote for him. If the stories were reversed, I would not be casting a vote for McCain because of shared experience. But it nonetheless picks up the thrill of voting tomorrow and takes it to a different place. One that is surely more emotional, but one that will hopefully end in the happiness that would be an Obama Victory.

Once again I have managed to say very little in a whole lot of words, so here is Senator Obama speaking about his current experience of sorrow earlier tonight. As usual, he does a much better job :)