Falling Leaves


See how efficient it is,
how it keeps its shape—
our century’s hatred.
How easily it vaults the tallest obstacles.
How rapidly it pounces, tracks us down.

from “Hatred” by Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska

Cruel words, cruel acts eddy and swirl in every corner of our country since Election Day. I await our president-elect’s forceful denunciation of the hate speech and hateful acts being committed in his name. Two weeks and counting.

I take comfort in the many acts of kindness and caring by everyday Americans to censor those who feel emboldened to say and do what they have apparently been thinking all along. This gives me strength.

I feel wary. Will I be a target of derision, with my long pinched nose and tight mouth and awkward hands that slow me up at the checkout counter, while others wait? It is not a question that I have ever considered before. When I was grocery shopping on Friday afternoon, a man with tattooed arms hovered nearby while I rang up my items at the self-checkout lane. He kept moving closer, then stepping back, impatient. He said nothing. He did not make eye contact as I moved to the side to finish packing my bag. Before the election, I would have simply thought he was in a hurry. Now, I am not so sure. Or, perhaps, I am the one who is judging him unfairly.

Fears hover beneath the surface of normalcy. Thanksgiving is coming and I don’t feel celebratory. But I want to. I want to enjoy the holiday with my family. So I turn my focus to my many blessings: my loving husband and adult daughters, the warmth that greets me when I step inside our home from the approaching cold of winter, our quiet street, supportive friends and community, my clients who entrust me to promote their good works, the freedom to express my own truths through my writing, my art.

I am grateful for our great country, for all its fault lines and bitter conflicts. We can do better. We must.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.

Image Credit: Timothy Meinberg

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