Here we are at the end, the last day, and I feel so empty. Used up. He came and he told us to hope. He told us that we should keep hoping. He came and he gave us this glimpse into a world that could be if we kept changing and hoping. He didn't do it all. He didn't do enough. He couldn't save young people shot by police, he ordered the deaths of people on the other side of the world, he didn't do enough. He came and he told us to hope, though. He made us believe that leaders could be good and kind and worthy even when they don't succeed at all they tried to do. He made us feel that we were moving into a new era, that we were going to keep going, keep reaching, keep hoping keep changing and on and on until at last we had a nation that was truly equal and truly free. He made us believe. He made me believe. He made me hope.
Maybe it will go on like normal. This is what I hope. I hope that I wake up in the morning and I make breakfast and I drop my daughter at school and I go to work and I help people. And I hope that the child who told me she was worried that her mother would be deported doesn't have to worry anymore. And I hope that people are healthy. And I hope that if people aren't healthy they have people and insurance to take care of them. And I hope that if people don't have friends or family to take care of them that charities really will step up and make sure they live. And I hope people live. And I hope people have clean water to drink. And I hope that people have food on the table. And I hope people have families who love them no matter who they are or who they love. And I hope businesses do right by people and make products that don't harm the environment. And I hope that businesses do right by their employees and give them medical leave when they need it or parental leave when they need it or even just time off to see a child's play because they are good people who care for their employees and want them happy. And I hope that there are no more wars. And I hope that people stop killing. And I hope that all the nukes are destroyed. And I hope that everyone can get a quality education. And I hope that nobody is judged by the color of their skin or their religion or their gender. And I hope that people stop hating. And I hope. I hoped.
I hate him for it, a little. I hate that I got to see what we could have had if we only knew what we had when we had it. I hate that all this hoping made me believe a lie that somehow we were changing, when things are just as they have always been. I hate that he made me hope for things that are not so. I hate that we got so used to hoping, believing the impossible. I hate that people are still hating. I hate to hear my daughter cry how much she hates the new one, the asshole who comes tomorrow. I hate that she sees such pain in the world and she weeps for us. I hate that I am not strong enough for her. I hate that I cry in front of her. I hate that I can't promise her a future. I hate that I am finding it hard to lie.
I try to hope. I try to hope that tomorrow is the way I wish it would be. That it isn't so terrible, it isn't so bad. But for me it feels like hope is leaving me, is on his way out the door. I look around me and I see our natural world dying. I see our schools dying. I see our people dying. I see our nation dying. I used to hope for a wondrous future full of possibility. Now I hope that there is a tomorrow. Now I hope that bombs don't fall and people don't die. Now I hope there is an America at all when I wake up in the morning. Now I hope that things are terrible but not that terrible. That isn't any kind of hope at all. It isn't the kind of hope that he promised us when he stood there on stage all those years ago. I hope the asshole doesn't kill us all. That is no kind of hope to pin your dreams on. I used to dream of fanciful things and now I dream of death.
It is foolish to put faith in a man. To believe. It wasn't really him though: not the man, the president. It was the idea, really. The idea of hoping. For 8 years, 9 really, almost 10. From the moment he announced he was running and gave us the notion that such a thing could be. And he won and it was as though all things were possible, that we had entered a new world. It was into this new world that I gave birth to a daughter. It was in this world that she grew. She never knew anything else. She never knew the Berlin Wall. She never knew presidential scandal and impeachment. She never knew 9/11. She never knew a world where a Black man didn't live in the White House. She has no memory of a time when gays couldn't marry. She doesn't understand people who hate. She is confused by people who don't love. She grew up in the generation of Hope.
So what do we tell them, this new generation, Generation Hope, children born or raised in past 10 years. What do we tell them now at the end of an era? How do we protect them? How do we help them grow? I see teenagers today, raised in this world where hope and change were possible, grow to be more socially aware, more progressive, than any generation before it. These flowers could blossom because the world was fertile for their imaginations, the land was full of hope. What will become of them in the new world? What will become of us all?
It is the end. It is not the end of all hope, but it is the end of an era where hope was the norm. Maybe someday we will return to that world if we all make it out the other side. I know we won't all make it, though. Some of us will. Some of us. How will those of us who make it out remember this time? What will we say? How will history look at us? Are we in Berlin in the 20s? Are we something new? Will we take the stories of resistance we have worshipped in our popular culture to heart? Will we fight? Will we be able to? So many questions. So much uncertainty.
This I know: it is the end. Tomorrow will be something new and what that new thing is we cannot yet know. It will be bad. That much is certain. We have received the call from our physician and we wait anxiously in the lobby. Will the doctor tell us that the disease has spread, is inoperable? Or will the doctor tell us that the tumor can be removed. I believe, I have to believe, that this cancer is treatable, that this malignant festering thing can be destroyed. Perhaps the treatment of the disease will make us feel sicker than we were before. Perhaps the treatment of the cancer will be long and painful. Perhaps we may not make it even after all the treatments. But perhaps it can. And this is what I hope. This is what I will continue to hope. Because I have to.
He told us to hope. He told us to be the change we wanted to see in the world. Now we must live by his example without him to lead us. We owe it to him, to the memory of this era, to try.