There are some things that happen that cause us to remember exactly where we were at that moment. When World War II ended. When the Berlin Wall fell. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. When Barack Obama was elected president.
For some of us, the 2008 election and the moment that Obama was elected will include memories of family, friends, parties, dinners and celebrations. And for others, that moment may include solitude and quiet contemplation.
When I learned Barack Obama had won the election, I was at home trying to watch every moment while still caring for my mother.
My mother is dying. Death is not pretty. Death is an extinguishing of the force within us that makes us human. Death is getting weaker day by day, losing bits and pieces of who you are minute by agonizing minute. Death is guilt over no longer being able to care for yourself, watching your daughter trying to juggle her time between a full-time job and seeing to your needs. Death is fear as your memory betrays you, your body betrays you. Where once you stepped lightly, you now drag your feet hanging onto your walker for dear life.
This is the world of arguing over medications, urging my mother to drink, remember to chew, Mom, don't fall when you go to the toilet. This is the world of sadness and dread. This is the world we are caught up in, the world we would like to escape.
My mother had insisted my brother and I help her go vote. I don't know why it was so important to her, since so many things now aren't. But it was. We got her ready, my brother practically carried her inside, so old, so frail. He had to read each word from the ballot to her because she can no longer see to read. He guided her hand as she whispered her choices and helped her mark them.
We sat through the evening watching results coming in. We listened to the pundits and the predictions. Mom would drop off to sleep for a while, come awake with a start and ask if he had won yet. When they named him the winner, my mother smiled and had me put her to bed. My brother exhausted, also went to bed.
Me? I sat up and watched with an overwhelming sense of hope stealing through me. I saw Senator McCain make his gracious speech. I was mesmerized by Senator Obama's. Tears flowed down my cheeks unchecked. Tears of joy, tears of heartbreak, tears of hope....
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