It was the day after Election day, and I was feeling deeply despondent. My brother kept sending me non-political cartoons via email. I asked him if he was trying to console me.
Pete and I are 16 months apart. Our mom used to say we were like two peas in a pod, or like a mama duck with her duckling following. A few years ago, we realized we are like emotional twins. We understand each other and are there, always, to love each other. That said, Pete is a born-again Christian and rock solid Republican. Our pact is: we try not to talk about politics or religion.
He called me late in the day, and I almost didn’t answer. I didn’t need any gloating. Instead, what he said was that 8 years ago, when Obama got elected, “I felt like you do now. I understand how you feel.”
What had happened was that I almost lost my brother. He took the pain and depression and became filled with anger and hate. He told me, “do you know how many people want Obama killed?” I was shocked. His anger and hate spilled over into his life-his work, his family, me. I went to visit him and his family, and he was wired so tight that when I dropped something on their tile floor and it shattered, he screamed at us to get out.
Who was this man I so loved?
I didn’t know if I could stay with them again. But I kept needling Pete–I don’t recognize you, why are you doing this, I love you, I’m losing you, it scares me. I held in there with him. I asked him to get help. I told him I loved him. I did not desert him.
What he told me on post-election night was this. He started to change. He turned off the news. He didn’t engage in political discussions. He decided to do the best he could every day. He loved America no matter what. He looked for the good in his life, his country and his fellow Americans. In four years he could vote again. He said, “I did all this, Kris, because I love you so much that I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you. And you continuously gave me ‘wise counsel’. You stood by me and believed in me.” We were both sobbing.
He sent out a Facebook message to this affect, and asked people who had supported Trump to please not gloat. He asked people to cross a bridge and make a connection. “We are not “us and them”, we are all Americans.”
I still am not happy with the election results, but more than anything, if he and I could find a bridge, it gives me HOPE. And faith. And a belief in our democratic system. And yet, we are more than our democratic system. Deep down, we are just humans and we need to look for that common link. One person at a time…..