Dear Mr. President,
I am angry. For most of this year, our country has been paralyzed. Many of us have completely changed our lives, canceled important once-in-a-lifetime events, lost our jobs, lost our healthcare, and waved to our loved ones from across the street or via video chat. Some are nervously sending kids back to school, battling swirling feelings of fear and relief and fear again. Some have gone into labor and brought beautiful new life into the world without their support system in the room with them. Some have been trapped at home with abusers. Some lay awake at night, trying to come up with ways to make enough to keep the kids fed and warm. Some live alone and feel isolated, falling into self-destructive habits in an effort to cope. Some are missing rent and mortgage payments and face possible eviction. And some are staring directly into the painful black holes that passed loved ones have left behind.
And yet, after participating in a super-spreader event, knowingly endangering a lot of people, and a brief stint in the hospital, yesterday you said this to millions of hurting Americans: “Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life.”
I know that I should no longer be surprised by the outrageous things that come out of your mouth, but this thoroughly shocks and angers me. My life has certainly been dominated by the virus. I’ve experienced intense feelings of loneliness, anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and sadness. I canceled a trip to see my 92-year-old Oma, making 2020 the first year ever that I won’t get to give her a hug. I lost my job and my health insurance, but I never missed a rent payment and always had a fridge full of food because all things considered, I’m still among the lucky ones.
So today, Mr. President, as my fingers tremble and my heart beats in my ears, allow me to speak on behalf of the grieving: Kick rocks. You knew exactly how dangerous this virus was in February, but instead of using your position to guide us to safety, you mocked, ridiculed, and gaslighted us into feeling crazy for wearing masks and for taking a deadly virus seriously. You stood back as hundreds of thousands of Americans died. You watched as families were destroyed and hearts were broken by a virus that you could have had a hand in containing. Why didn’t you? Why don’t you value the lives of the people you’re supposed to lead? Why do you see us as expendable? And after finally getting a small taste of the virus’ severity and given the opportunity to say something kind to a hurting nation, why did you instead choose to slap us in the face?
I already know the answers to these questions. Your narcissism and your apathy has been palpable since day one. You know as well as we do that it’s not a matter of “letting” anything happen. None of us, especially those of us who are suffering greatly, have had any say in the matter. So I feel obligated to speak out against your hurtful, stupid advice. I remember how it felt when my grief was raw and people said weird things to me like, “You’ll meet someone else,” or “At least you weren’t married,” or “Everything happens for a reason,” brushing over my pain with something dumb to make themselves feel better. Is that what you’re doing, Mr. President? Trying to minimize your own guilt for not doing enough with an unhelpful sweeping statement? Are you even capable of feeling guilt? I’m fairly confident that you aren’t.
You had an opportunity to show us your humanity this week. You had the chance to finally say that you’ll stand with us, fight for us, grieve with us. Like everything else in your life, this was an easy one, presented to you on a silver platter, and you somehow missed the mark entirely. And I’m so angry at you for it.
Mr. President, I have been toughened and softened by loss, and I feel the weight of this nation’s collective grief. And while I am so unspeakably angry at the culture of flippancy and disdain that you have created, I’m also grateful to you for continuing to show your cruelest, darkest colors. We the People are bigger and better than you. We the People understand pain and suffering, and We the People will be stronger for it. You will one day be out of office – hopefully sooner rather than later – and We the People will still be here, sewing and donating masks, filling community fridges, delivering meals to our neighbors, giving our time and our money, organizing supply drives, protesting for equality and fairness, doing whatever it takes to support and uplift our communities.
Because Mr. President, unlike you, We the People are all being toughened and softened by loss right at this very moment. We are hurting and we are angry, but we know that we don’t have to rely on a person like you when we have each other. I hope there comes a day when you can honestly reflect on what you’ve done to this country during your time in office. If and when that day comes, it’ll be too late. It’s already too late.
So from the very bottom of my heart, on behalf of the grieving, I’ll say it once more: Kick. Rocks.