Tears of Joy

I was out pulling weeds in my garden Saturday when I heard that Joe Biden won the presidency. I looked at the alert on my phone and didn’t believe it for a minute – not like I thought it was a mistake or anything like that – it was just that after four years of exhausted anguish over the direction of my country, I couldn’t believe it was over.

Because it’s not over, you see.

Biden won, but still more than 70 million Americans voted for Trump. More than 70 million Americans took stock of the lying, bigotry, corruption, incompetence, and destruction and said, “More, please.” Voters denied him a second term, but they also reelected Trump’s enablers and boot-lickers, denying Biden the Senate and a strong majority in the House. Biden will have to fight with both hands tied behind his back, while Trump and his toxic brand of kooks throwing hand grenades from the sidelines.

What’s worse, Trump won’t even concede. And why is anyone surprised? Has he respected any norm of the presidency? Has he ever once admitted he was wrong or had failed? Or he does just keep lying, blaming, lobbing attacks at anyone who opposes him?

After I got the news, I sat down in the cool grass for a few minutes and looked up at the sky. We had beautiful weather all weekend, with the foliage at its peak in the brilliant sun against the bluest sky. I took a couple of deep breaths, then resumed pulling weeds.

This isn’t meant to come across as some overwrought metaphor – I literally was pulling weeds – but the truth is the work isn’t over and it may just get harder. Every weed I pull today is 10 I won’t have to pull in the spring, but I won’t eradicate the weeds forever, any more than Biden’s election eradicates the toxic Trump-led erosion of our Democracy.

I wasn’t going to watch Joe Biden and Kamala Harris make acceptance speeches Saturday night. I just didn’t feel I had much to celebrate. But my husband turned it on and I joined him to watch. I sat there with dry detachment until VP-elect Harris started thanking the marchers, the poll workers, the people who wrote letters, made phone calls, stood up, got out the vote, and made it happen. And I burst into tears – really ugly cried for a good five minutes in grief and exhaustion, in exhiliration and joy.

It was enough. For now.