The New King

There are a handful of people in my life for whom I quite literally get up in the morning. Not because it’s my responsibility as their mother, wife, daughter. But because without them there’d be little reason to do anything at all. I love them. It’s the least extraordinary of things. And it’s everything. I expect as a fellow human you and I are living a similar experience. 

It feels inane to pontificate on the value of human life over material experiences, yet here we are. Sunsets and rodeos and cheese plates are all very well and good. But I enjoy far more the coffee sipped in my little sister’s company than I do  the solitary cup I will pour for myself later in the afternoon. 

In the polaroid snapshots of our lives we might be holding our gingersnap lattes or we might not. There might be margaritas alongside meandering Cedars set against a red sky, fresh haircuts and new shoes. Or not.  There might be roadtrips and beach weddings and plane flights to exotic destinations. No matter. As long as my sister is there with her smile. And my mother, with her arms to hold and her ears to listen, always helping no matter how many times I might tell her to sit down. And my Dad, who when I close my eyes to imagine him, is always holding a baby, animated in a way you’d never witness him otherwise. 

I’m not a very social person. I have these souls to care for and a few dozen others. My kids, of course, and Andy. Who might as well be the air I breathe. I have family and friends dotted around the country and the world. And we’re all facing the same monster. 

To you these characters are perhaps the subject of a few tedious facebook posts. But they are my story. Brought to life each day by the whine of my alarm clock. There’s the little boy with the speckled eyes. And alongside him a ramshackle brigade of mischief makers, horns tooting, sounding out their haggard drums. 

The boy is one of the few who still believes in immortality. In his world, the heroes never die. He’s one of the few who may never understand how close we are, always, to a different kind of reality, the possibility of which exists at the razor’s edge of the rest of our collective consciousness. A reality we’ve most recently been forced to confront. You see there’s a new king in town, little boy. He’s selfish and he’s ruthless and he’s deadly. He will decimate our little brigade.  

These people who belong to you and me, someday will belong to history. As will the hows and whys of how they lived and died, and the decisions we make in this moment.  The lesson will be how we faced this thing. That we’ll fuck it up is inevitable. That there will be more death is unavoidable. But it mustn’t be due to our lack of humanity. 

None of this is fair. That we love as hard as we do while knowing what we know. That we must feel this much fear and move about anyway, taking steps to mitigate, to contain. That we are young and healthy and frightened. That we still feel like children on the inside, yet bear the responsibility for keeping them safe. 

It’s easier, perhaps to deny the magnitude of this threat. Understandable, even, to close our eyes to the possibility of all that we might lose. But we mustn’t. We must wake up in the days ahead and recognize that we are each responsible for the twists and turns of one another’s stories. Accepting that the choices we make might have a grave impact on someone else’s narrative. 

There is no use at this moment in bickering over past faults and failures. Differences must be set aside. The strong must show up in defense of the weak against this counterfeit King in his shoddy crown. We must educate and discuss and act. So that when history writes this thing we will have emerged, one people, hearts thrumming, pots and pans clanging, rainbow streamers flapping in the wind.. victorious.

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