Why a Canadian woman was crying watching Joe Biden's inauguration
Updated: Jan 21
I just finished watching the inauguration of the 46th president. It might be the first inauguration I have ever seen. I can't remember taking time during my day to watch one in the past. Of course, in the past, we weren't living through a pandemic. I had the option of not being home. So there is that to consider.
A small moment was captured on camera when Ashley Biden looked at her mom, Dr. Jill Biden and then reached over and took her hand. It was a brief moment, and it triggered something in me. It seemed like an acknowledgement of all that this day has meant for the Biden family. And that moment was just the start. I don't cry easily. I may tear up, but I'm usually pretty quick to get things under control. Today, I felt wave after wave of emotion during this hour. I was even crying when Lady Gaga sang.
For four years, I've been watching from a distance and thinking, 'It can't get worse than this." And then it does. It's been exhausting. And it's been divisive - even here in the North. And then the unimaginable happened two weeks ago. For me, the insurrection at the Capital felt as horrific as 9-11. I felt like the anger and violence had reached a point that a day like we saw today wouldn't be possible.
Today I exhaled for the first time in months - maybe years. I felt like the munchkins in Oz when Glinda invites them to come out from hiding. I even went out on my front porch, half expecting to see people outside celebrating in the streets. I suppose January in Canada might be a deterrent to that type of activity. So instead, I turned to IG and enjoyed all the celebratory posts in my feed.
It's not that I only follow Democrats. I'm intentional about hearing other voices, but those other voices have grown relatively silent in my feed. When challenged, a few influencers that I suspect would be Republican have dodged the question saying they don't want to get political. You know you have privilege when you don't want to get political.
So why was I crying?
I was crying with relief. Like so many people, I've been worried about today. I've been worried about security. I've been concerned about what could happen. I've been afraid that my greatest fears of a bombing or gun violence would erupt.
I was crying because one of the few things that can still bring me to tears is love and grace. I'm not a fool. I understand that today was a highly orchestrated political event produced to send a message. But the news, as I received, it was so damn hopeful.
Amanda Gorman, in her poem, used the words rebuild, reconcile, and recover. (I will link to the poem when it is published.) I want those words on a t-shirt. It's the work we all need to do right now—no matter where we live. In a highly polarized world, rebuilding, reconciling and recovering is where we need to begin. These words form an inquiry for me. These are the questions that surfaced:
How do we rebuild when we feel so defeated?
How do we reconcile with people who have hurt us and don't seem to care?
How do we recover when we've experienced so much loss in our lives?
The things that make me cry these days are grace and love. Those are the actions that will move us forward. And that's what I saw today.