I’m sure every letter you’ve opened begins with some version of what I’m about to say, but it bears repeating: I woke up on November 8th with sunlight in my chest. I pulled my three-year-old daughter into bed with me, wrapped her up in my arms, and whispered in her ear that we were going to elect the first female President. “Hillary Clinton!” she squealed. (She’d long ago been indoctrinated. For months, whenever she wined for something, or made her request too quietly to be heard, my husband and I would say, “Say it in your Hillary Clinton voice” — strong, direct, confident.) Because of you, I was convinced that she would grow up in a new world — one in which, as you said, she truly did believe she could be anything. My generation — I am Chelsea’s age — has long been told this, but here would finally be the proof.
But my excitement was about more than that — it was about the joy of voting for someone you knew was unquestionably brilliant, qualified and ready; who loved to dirty her hands in the muck of policy. And it was about even more — it was the delight of voting for someone whose basic goodness was so startlingly evident; who — is it too cliché to say? — genuinely cared.
Our daughter was born abroad, in Vienna, Austria, and we only just returned to the U.S. The surge in gun violence since we left in 2012, in particular, terrified us. The country looked, from the outside, to have lost its mind, even under Obama’s steady hand, and we weren’t eager to leave what felt like safe territory, especially with a young child. The one ray of hope in all this was that we’d be here to partake in your victory — to make calls and knock on doors, and vote. I practically ran to the polls on Tuesday morning, and forced my daughter to wait in an hour-long line with me — Hillary T-shirts hidden under sweaters — hoping she’d one day remember this. That it would, perhaps, be her first memory.
When I read Chelsea’s words on Election Day — that voting for you was one of the greatest honors of her life — I wept. Her pride was our pride.
The heartbreak is still fresh. Blessedly, my daughter is too young to understand what’s happened and when she heard your opponent’s name on the radio this morning, she looked at me quizzically and said, “But we love HILLARY CLINTON!” We do, I told her. We still do.
Her name is Noa, which means “movement” in Hebrew, but Noa was also the first female land owner in the Bible. If she grows up to be half the tough, resilient, kind woman you are, we will be grateful. (We are, of course, already grateful and proud beyond measure — we are Jewish parents! — but now we can see how much is possible.) Watching you these last few years has shown me how to stand up — and to stay standing, no matter how much vitriol is thrown my way. It’s shown me that while I can’t protect my daughter from this (increasingly terrifying) world we live in, I can teach her to hold her ground, to love herself, to march on.
Please know that your bottomless service to this country has not gone unnoticed; that millions of us invested time and love and funds into our belief in you. My wise Buddhist friend, Ethan, wrote something that helped: “Glad I got shoved through that sci-fi portal into this alternate universe along with so many friends. It would be much harder alone.”
The other balm: You’ve shown us how to fight. I’ve never seen so many of my friends primed for action (and I went to Oberlin College!). Thank you for inspiring us, for pushing us, for showing us the way. We will take it from here — you’ve shown us that we can.
With much love and respect,
Lead image: flickr/Hillary Clinton