Thursday, January 19, 2017

So Hard to Say Goodbye

Dear President and Mrs. Obama,

I have been putting off writing this note for weeks--I actually had selected the right card and knew most of what I wanted to say in gratitude for these past eight years. But then I never got around to writing anything, debated whether that one small 3x5 or 4x6 card would be insufficient to contain all of what I wanted to say, and then I look up and today is January the 19th.

I am currently staring at a blank screen with the same look one has when looking down on a blank piece of paper--with the anticipation of everything I want to say, along with everything I think I want to say, but without the precise words to say anything. I want this statement to be eloquent, beautiful and moving, but most importantly genuine and real. I want you and your family to KNOW what you have meant. Perhaps my inability to articulate my feelings comes from there being too much to say...

I am a perfectionist, and it has dawned on me that I have spent an entire paragraph trying not to be too effusive or stumble over myself and get repetitive and awkward. I am just so full of emotion right now. So here goes: (Deep breath)...first of all, thank you for making it to the end.

A lot of folks were afraid that you would not live to see this day because they assumed that your real enemies preferred to see you dead, rather than see you fail. Many of those old folks lived through the 60s so they assumed the worst, but thankfully those are the same old folks who came up through conditions that were so unimaginable to our generation, so those are those praying-all-through-the-day-and-night old folks. They prayed as hard for your survival as they pray for their wayward grandchildren.

Second, thank you for finishing your tenure with no major scandals. Unfortunately high-profile black elected officials tend to leave office in disgrace. With twelve hours left, I think it is safe to assume that your escort from the premises tomorrow afternoon will look nothing like a perp walk.

Third, thank you for your beautiful daughters. Thank you for shielding them from the glare of a too hot spotlight that would seek to fry their very souls. Thank you for allowing us to see them act like sweet little girls, then like bored and uninterested teenagers, and now like poised young ladies. Thank you for punishing Sasha on the night of your last speech (because I am not buying that she had a test the next day)...but then again, even if she really did have a test the next day, thank you for making her stay at home to study because that is what good parents do sometimes. Thank you for allowing Malia the space to take a year off, which I hope means that I will absentmindedly walk into a Baby Gap somewhere around the city and spot her folding sweaters. I would be even more grateful if Sasha applies to my beloved Spelman College.

Thank you for marrying Michelle LaVaughn Robinson.

And because saying thank for Michelle is not the same as saying thank you to Michelle: Thank you Michelle Obama for being that ultra-fly girlfriend; that always stylish big sister; that cool Mom who brings the healthy snacks; that around-the-way girl who never did take off her earrings even when she was tempted to remind you that she grew up on the South Side of Chicago; that ultimate Busy Black Woman!

Finally, thank you Mr. President. Black nerds like me definitely appreciate the fact that you made being intelligent look cool. You have freed us from the box that confined blackness to the hood or to the stage or on the field or in the pulpit or in prison or in premature graves.

I would cite some of your policy successes, but I won't. I will allow those to be evaluated by historians. I know that the plans are underway to eviscerate many of your accomplishments, and it is just too cynical to believe that this was all just a dream, but because I know otherwise, history will decide how you rank.

And I am just about done. I wish I had met you while you were the President. I wanted to work for you, but life had other plans for me. I wish that my mother could have met you before Alzheimer's robbed her of even knowing that you had served in office. I wish that my father would have listened to me about following protocol for getting you to send a letter of condolence to the family of the White House usher from his church who passed away last Fall (maybe we can still work something out). I wish that my daughter would be able to remember your time in office. I'm pleased that someone printed a picture of you for my Hub to pose next to in his office. I'm proud that I volunteered to get you elected in 2008.

Mr. President, I am 43 years old. If we are blessed to live another 43 years (or more), there is a lot more I hope to be able to say to you. So I will just end it right here.

Thank you.

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