Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The State of The Union

(To FAMB and the rest of you who look for me at 9am each morning, I apologize.  Healing takes much more energy than I imagined, and I don't want to write something that won't be worth your time.  So, I will aim for a post every weekday, but I'm not going to hold myself to the timing.  You'll know I'm getting better when I'm back on schedule.  Til then, may I ask you to cut me some slack in the timeliness department?  Thanks, from your perforated friend.)
I wonder..... did the AP call any of you and ask to sit on your couch and watch the speech together?  Welcome to my weird and wonderful world.

I told the lovely woman on the other end of the phone that I was too tired by the end of the day to acquiesce to her most flattering invitation but that she could call back and ask me a question or two on the phone.  She did.  With the help of TBG and The Ballerina (who's come from Little Rock to tend to me) and some judicious repetition of questions aloud, I managed to put together a semi-coherent response.  Was I ever glad that I had been taking notes as he spoke. Just Google Suzi Hileman and AP and you can see what I said... or whatever the interweb has deemed most click-worthy at any rate.

What did I think? First and foremost, didn't my girl look great next to Mrs. Obama?  That's Roxanna, mother of Christina-Taylor, bereft parent and my really good friend who somehow managed to look graceful and stylish and classy in that beautiful suit, though I knew she was crying inside. I loved knowing people in the front row ..... I just don't like why they were there.

I don't like it at all.

I did like our president calling for a robust democracy where What do you think of that idea? and What do you want to be when you grow up? are real and vital questions for each and every American.  C-T won't get to live up to her enormous potential, but President Obama was there encouraging the rest of us to do it for her.  And for ourselves.  And for America, the first nation to be founded on an idea. 

When he and FLOTUS were in my hospital room, he answered my lack of understanding, my flummoxed, uncomfortable sense that there was so much violence in the world when we live in such a wonderful country by reminding me that this was not the act of America.  He spoke of the good that is the American people and the good that I was doing by taking C-T to Congress on Your Corner and the good in the people who ran out of the Safeway and into harms way because their fellow Tucsonans were injured.  He told me to concentrate on our better angels and I've been trying to do just that.

I loved that he touted the winners of science fairs and the creators of new technology and that he pointed us onward as we invest in the future.  That is the way that I am able to move forward every day.  I try to keep the door to the past firmly shut while aiming straight ahead, with purpose and a smile.  Christina wasn't about gun control or the federal deficit or partisan political wrangling.  She was about talking to someone in charge about her own issue.  She expected to be heard and taken seriously and respected as an individual because she was a part of the American Family.

No, I am not angry that gun control didn't come up in the speech.   No, I don't mind that he didn't make more of the Green's in the balcony.  He was here in Tucson last week and he helped my town to bind its wounds.  And, if you are wondering, we are doing just fine.  We are not focusing on the Law'n Order facts, on the judicial hearings and the pleadings and the horror.  We are concentrating on finding meaning and love and on growing closer to one another.

TBG saw it first and stepped out in front of the media which was looking to define the situation on a partisan, divisive, hurtful and hateful political basis.  He turned the conversation around to the loss of a beautiful 9 year old child, a respected and hard working judge, a husband, a fiancee, and two other women-of-a-certain-age who were out on a Saturday morning, hoping to exercise their right to assembly and free speech.  I've been lucky enough to follow in his (awfully big and deep) footsteps and I've been trying to do the same.

It's not easy.  There are tears and strains and lots and lots of anger inside.  But they are tears of loss and the strains of recuperating and regenerating muscles and the anger is not at He Who Should Be Slapped or his family or the system.  It is at the unfairness of it all.  It is at the loss of a future for a bride to be, the loss to the judicial system of a hardworking, faith-filled judge, of a husband who threw himself between his wife and a madman, of a quilter and a mother who were out on a sunny weekend morning to visit with their Congresswoman and take home a piece of history.

The history is defined a little awkwardly right now, and I'm not sure any of us has it in the place we need it to be.  But I have you here in The Burrow to help me think it through, and I have all of Tucson rooting for something good to come out of this horror.  I'm going to do my part.  And I wonder, as did Mr. Obama last night, what you as citizens and parents are willing to do.

If you don't mind, why not take a few minutes and give it some thought.  Feel free to let me know in the comments if you want to make a public commitment to something.  I know that it helps me to stay focused if I say it aloud.

America is not going to get better unless we are all in it together again.  Our President is asking us to join hands and take part.  I'm throwing in my two cents, too........ let's do something..... Christina will never be able to fulfill her incredible potential..... it's on us now to do it for her.


  1. My perforated friend, in your place I would be wondering when, in this unprecedented and unrehearsed state of affairs, it would be considered disloyal, ungrateful, unpleasing to say No. And then I would weigh that against just what one small and wounded woman should rightfully be required to do. And I would want to beg--whine, even--, "Let me be for just a little while."

    Susan U. says to tell you it is okay to crawl into your bed and pull the covers up to your eyebrows. To stay there as long as you need.

    I don't mean to disparage your remarkable strength and will and purpose; I mean to say that an injured animal needs to make use of its bolt-hole to heal.

    The Burrow is so aptly named on this occasion. I know you will get the recommended exercises done and more. I know that you will be gracious for as long as you have an ounce of strength. And I know that you will honor your commitments and your goals. I know.

    But, oh, I would wish you could curl into a warm safe place for a bit, let all the effort relax, let gracious be damned for a day. I wish that you could be just you again soon, with no occasions to rise to. Another pancake and Greg Iles day. A good-enough, ordinary day.

  2. Nance is right--though I hate to quote Nancy Reagan, I am repeating her advice because it fits the situation--"Just say NO." Take care of yourself first right now. Laura xoxo

  3. I agree with Nance. You are to be applauded for your desire to get past this horror. I know I would not be as strong as you, but, in order to keep going forward, please think of, sleep, lounge about, eat chocolate.I have to admit, you inspire me....

  4. Suzi, I learned of your blog through my good friend, Vicki (who helped organize your high school reunion this past year), and so I have been following your recent posts. Today's post inspired me to share a commitment I want to make: to help in uplifting the quality of public discourse in America's politics but also, in the culture.

    I first felt a call to this issue during the 2008 presidential primaries when, as a supporter of Hillary Clinton, I watched that quality sink to a new low. (Who knew that it could sink even lower, as evidenced by this past year?) In 2008, I felt that it would need to be women who took the lead in changing this, and that it had to start with women politicians. I was longing for a woman with national standing to come forward and take it on so I could get behind her and help.

    That didn't happen, and life did what life does, and I was given other "divine assignments" to fill the next two years. Then the shooting in Tucson happened, and I heard about this remarkable congresswoman fighting for her life ... and that she cared deeply about this issue of the divisive and hurtful political discourse and wanted to do something about it. Am sure she did not have getting shot on that list of possible things she might do, but here we are. And, while we cannot know what she may decide to do around this when she is recovered, those of us who also care deeply about this issue can decide what each of us can do - and offer it as a tribute to her. Her example can lead and inspire us.

    And so I, Lynda in Ohio, make a commitment to reach out and find other women who also care about this issue and begin the conversation. I do it in honor of Congresswoman Giffords. And I do it for my grandchildren, who I want to grow up in a culture where people are kinder to one another, where public role models speak and write in ways that heal and affirm rather than wound and alienate.

    Thank you, Suzi, for inspiring me to say yes to this. And anyone reading this comment who would like to join me in this conversation, please leave a comment to that effect so I can connect with you.

  5. Lynda, Me, too. Find me at my blog, The Dassler Diaries.

    Suzi, I practically leaped out of my seat when POTUS said we should celebrate kids winning science fairs! I spent yesterday afternoon with the Science Olympiad team I coach shooting off water bottle rockets here in Phoenix.

    I have enjoyed your blog even before I knew you were Suzy and I love it even more now. My best (and nearly only) friend here in my new home is Jewish and from NY and she and this ex-nun have great times together!

  6. Oh, my dear friends, I love you so! I am remembering that "healing is job #1" and I am doing my exercises and napping and staying still. I can't really pick up a book.... or watch an hour tv show.... my mind wanders and it's not a pretty place. So I plunge into my get well cards and my blog writing and my emails and I distract myself with your good wishes. I know a crash is coming .... I'm trying to put it off until my body hurts just a little bit less. Tomorrow The Ballerina and I are getting our nails done; a small step to return to normal.

  7. Suzi, my commitment is to honor you and Christina by speaking out against hate. I saw an image recently at:

    that says, "Silence is Acceptance". I will not let you being hurt and Christina's death be for nothing. We have to speak-out against hate. We need to stand-up for what's right in this country. Obama's speech also made me realize that we aren't doing enough in this country to encourage our children to explore and innovate. In your descriptions of Christina, I see that she was trying to make the world a better place. My commitment is to encourage that in all children.

    Thank you for encouraging us all to be better citizens.

    Megan xxx

  8. Dear Suzi, Yes I look for you at 9am and will continue. Please write,talk,and share your journey,good and bad it is theraputic for us all. A burden shared lightens the load. I did look for you in the gallery at the state of the union,maybe next year. Keep talking and writing, love your "voice".

  9. So glad you're getting your nails done tomorrow, and in the company of love. That bit of normalcy will certainly be therapeutic.
    I am joining the public pledge to increase civility and respect, regardless of levels of agreement. I will do this in my relationships, my actions in the world, in my writing.
    Thanks for the challenge, AB.

  10. Yippee! Love getting my nails done...and look forward to reading your thoughts went they come...

  11. The Ballerina and I are gorgeous and I feel semi-revived. I'm no longer anonymous (in the blogosphere or in the real world... my face has been everywhere and strangers smile and wish me well.)

    I love the commitments to civility and kids. My readers are really special.

    Next time you are doing something you love, why not bring a youngster along? Christina would love it, and so would I.

  12. I echo those who say take care of yourself. Many of us can speak personally to the folly of rushing back after a serious illness or accident. Yours is neither accident nor illness, but a greater wound still. Please be good to yourself.

    As to a commitment, I've been playing with an idea for a while. Alright, almost a year and a half. So often our time is so limited we don't make/find time for action, for engagement. Many of us feel ill informed and foolish about issues and so don't speak out. If, organized in the safe environment of friends, we could form juntos where friends could gather each month to talk, to learn and to act with regard to one positive targeted message we could affect change.

    So perhaps my commitment is this, to move from thinking about forming such a junto to actually emailing friends and asking if they would join me in such a venture.

  13. Just wanted to say thank you for not stopping your gift... at this time, at yesterday, tomorrow and beyond, thank you.

  14. Let me be the 147th person to say take care of yourself first... then totally use and abuse the media for your own personal agenda, because it's way more noble than their own. I love that your husband was shifting the focus to the right thing.


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