Written January 11, 2017 at 1:36 AM (It’s a little lengthy because I let it flow that day. No apologies.)
To The Obama Family:
Not the sniff-sniff sentimental cute cry. The ugly one. A lamentation even.
I kept asking myself “Why am I crying?! Why… am I crying?” I’m a firm believer that tears have a name. They speak when your words can’t, so I was trying to hear what these were saying. My voice got softer as the tears got bigger and my face crumbled like an unwanted piece of paper. I didn’t understand where the tears were coming from. Here I was — watching the farewell address of a current president as I had done before, only this time, my soul was weeping and I couldn’t put my finger on the origin. Then, I asked again aloud in frustration, “Why am I crying right now?!” I heard the Lord say “Because someone had to do it. You’re mourning the end, but you’re glad to see it.”
I couldn’t have agreed more.
I was so overjoyed to see with own eyes the historical manifestation of what I taught to hundreds of students. I was proud of our technological age as I absorbed the spirit of the moment through my cell phone. I was grateful to hear the passionate sincerity in your voice, President Obama. My president. My ownership of the political process was just as real as my ancestors. In essence, I was crying with my late grandmother that used to clean the homes of White families. I was crying with my late great-grandparents and my uncles who experienced discrimination in the military. I can’t describe how anointed it felt to be in this moment, full of grace and momentum, simultaneously.
I was in awe.
I felt the love toward your wife and daughters. I absorbed the gratitude extended to the vice-president, cabinet, and staff. I witnessed the appreciation toward the volunteers and voters that got you there (at this moment I could see the tear wiped from your face with a handkerchief). To acknowledge the torch was burning for a new carrier and that you had taken it as far as you could. Despite the surge of overt racism, death threats, and emphatic defiance, you made it to this moment. And it was true — somebody had to do it. And I wasn’t looking for perfection — I was just looking for someone to try. Someone that looked like me.
And First Lady Obama… to be painted as an angry Black woman in the midst of raising the standard of America’s children as well as your own was no feat for the average will, but again… somebody had to do it and do it well. So much so, that the second go ’round was even more beautiful to behold than the first. Your blossoms of security, passion, and focus were bigger and brighter. As a result, the pollination of other Queendoms ensued and there are gardens all over the world. You were and still are remarkable in your own undeniable right and I love you for being brave enough to remain authentic. Authentically in love with your husband, authentically protective of your children, and authentically passionate about justice and solidarity. I appreciate that. A blueprint beautifully unscrolled for other women to follow and cherish.
Sasha and Malia — Bless you for growing up under such a judgmental microscope. When people picked you apart, I shook my head and spoke up. You were children living in a world you didn’t sign up for, not on a reality show with a contract. You were not “fair game,” as I heard someone say. Despite all of this, you rose to exceptional heights and I am so proud of you. You’re intelligent and you stand unapologetically in your womanhood. Keep doing just that.
I’m still amazed how those sporadic tears jumped down my face, but they were definitely shed without regret. I admonished them to have their way and for my soul to speak its peace without restraint. And it did. Again and again. A lamented song with bars I had never heard. I let it out without penance. I was sad to see you go, Obama Family, but so happy to see the completion of this chapter. There were many times I prayed no one would kill you as you waved to crowds with heart and hugged with compassion. I prayed often for your protection because the threats were out there. I’ve always prayed for leaders as the Bible says so, but this time was different. On several occasions, I feared for your lives and your optimism. I didn’t want the vile of a few to dilute your hope and strength. The past, present, and future needed you.
In closing, I appreciate your steadfastness toward each other and for displaying balance of life. You have a few more gray hairs there, Mr. President, and you earned every one. There’s no telling how many backdoor conversations you had to stomach and pep talks you had to give and get.
I’m sorry to see you go, but I’m glad to see you live.
Somebody had to do it. Somebody had to stand in the middle of time and history. Somebody had to be you in this lifetime and I’m so glad it was you. Thank you. For everything seen and unseen. You did it well and your heart spoke for you in every footstep toward your belief for better. My tears today are well spent and I appreciate the opportunity to let them fall. Thank you for being you and may God richly bless your days and the lives of your family.
Christina J. Wade