I see us express our sadness
Only to be told told we are sad about the wrong thing
Or that our grief is misplaced
To the sense that a perspective is skewed
The wool has been pulled over one’s eyes
Leaving them to weep as babies do
When mommy leaves the room.
How lovely, to be smart enough to know
The best use of other peoples’ tears.
Grief is not a zero sum game,
Nor is empathy.
There is no scale of proper sorrow.
Her dead cat and his dead faith are allowed to coexist.
If anything, since neither exists anymore,
They are more alike than they were before.
Pause before you kick out a pithy reminder
Of how misguided those tears are.
Allow for personal mourning.
At least for forty-eight hours, please.
I found myself really bothered by the backlash on my social media about those of us sad for Notre Dame. One post in particular drew my attention – a smug little tweet assuming that the people weeping for Notre Dame were blind and callous towards the immigration crisis or other tragedies. No. No! Grief is not a zero sum game (the inspiration line for today’s piece). I can recognize tragedy regardless of where it is.
(I know the backlash is more towards the Church / obscenely rich people – fine with that. But don’t lump all the mourners into an ignorant glob.)
Not folded, but bundled like laundry,
In arms tired and already burned by grease
And other people’s hash browns.
There is no time for ceremony.
There is, however, time for a quick cape.
A small thick cloud surrounds nylon glory
As a compatriot fumbles with clips and cord,
Unsure of which clip goes where.
The morning sun crests the overpass.
A coffee-deprived car runs up on the lane divider,
The audible thunk distracting from the duty
Of raising the symbol of freedom
Over the symbol of sausage, egg, cheese, and
The impossible bounty of a dollar menu.
Coffee in hand, I pause a moment.
I cannot help but slow my commute
Just a breath, a requisite pause before the rush,
Out of an old respect born of performing
The same small ceremony as a child at school.
And while we unfolded our flag with tiny, reverent hands,
And while we did not smoke mid-ceremony,
We all of us fumbled with the clips.
I don’t have to look back in my mirror
To know they’ll get it right.
That Old Glory will eventually grace the commuter’s dawn
And the black shirts will return to assisting the dreams of others,
Through prompt delivery of caffeine and glorious, factory-pressed biscuits.