A guest post from a writer who wishes to remain anonymous.
On the 4th of July, walking to the metro to catch a train home, my coworker was hit by a drunk driver. She passed away on Wednesday.
What I mean to say is, over the course of the last week, some drunk asshole killed a young woman who was dedicated, funny, fierce, hard-working, loving, and utterly beloved. I hardly know how to begin to grapple with what has happened. My world and my every day have turned inside out. The most ordinary things can leave me panicking, or gasping for breath, or crying, or just plain sad, or utterly grateful.
“Everyone is fighting a hard battle,” my roommate often says, a reminder that when someone shoves into me at Penn Station and mutters under their breath, or criticizes what I’m eating or wearing, or tells me they would never do a thing I do – “Oh I could never do that…” – in a way that passive-aggressively implies that what I’m doing shouldn’t really be done – in short, when people are rude, and ordinary, and difficult, that we are all struggling internally with so much more than anyone outside of us could ever see. We battle moment by moment with our demons, our experiences, our identities, our heartbreak, our subject-positionality; we spend every day of our lives battling and reconciling our own reality. Everyone is fighting a hard battle. It is so easy to forget.
I thought of it this morning as I made room in my aching chest for the grief I feel over the George Zimmerman verdict in the murder of Trayvon Martin. This verdict sits in some of the space in my mind and heart and body not occupied by my anger at the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, my eagerness over Alison Lundergran Grimes’ nascent campaign to unseat Mitch McConnell, my still-present sadness over the shooting of the children who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School, my rage over the Texas state legislature’s decision to discount the voices of the people their policies will directly impact, my ongoing joy over the defeat of DoMA, and, in this moment above all else, my seemingly infinite heartbreak over the loss of my coworker.
I am allowed to be sad and angry at everyone in the world for not grieving as I am right now. I am allowed to be sad and angry that everyone isn’t feeling my precise feelings, that everyone isn’t preoccupied with the memory of a bright and beautiful young woman, but it won’t do any good. I could be angry that people think the death of a young celebrity is more important than utter lack of justice for a young black man, but I’m not. I don’t get to decide what is important for other people, or judge how they spend their love or their grief or their energy or their time or their devotion. I can understand anger and frustration over other people’s priorities, but I won’t support it. I won’t condone it or tell you it is right. Everyone is fighting a hard battle.
Grief, anger, political will, activism – these are not zero-sum games. Making room for one or the other or three at a time is neither a failure nor a success. Grappling with multiple identities that simultaneously exalt in victory and fall to their knees in defeat within you is everyone’s reality: everyone is fighting a hard battle. Your battle is unique and you – and only you – fight that battle, and it is lonely as fuck. But you are not alone.
I support you and I love you. I do. I want you to experience your grief, your anger, your joy, your need and your reality on your own time, in your own way. I want you to heal; I want you to do whatever you must do to heal. I hope when you heal you can pick up and continue your fight; I understand if you can’t. There are days – and god, friends, yesterday was one of them – where I think I can fight no more. But I trust you. I trust that when I can’t fight, you will. I trust that when I can’t talk about structures of racism that are killing children, or the violence killing young gay men in my city, or the ignorance and hate tearing women’s lives and bodies apart, that you will do it for me. And when you can’t, when you’re too tired, I will do the same for you. Trust me.
When you can’t run you walk. When you can’t walk you crawl. And when you can’t crawl…
You find someone to carry you.