Many have written their beautiful tributes to President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their girls turned young women as of late. I was going to let it pass and let others do the thanking for me, but alas, I need to throw my thanks in as well. If you're not here for this, I ask you to just keep on scrolling, as I'm not throwing down any hate here, just love. It won't take long, it won't be nearly as eloquent, but it will be mine.
When I look back years from now, I will see this, my kids will see this, from the night before The Obamas left office after 8 years and they will know all they meant to our little family. To so many families. They already know the sadness we feel at their leaving. We don't talk of hate towards others. We talk about our affection for this family, for all they've done for so many, and for the dignity, class, and fun they brought to this highest office in our nation. We talk of our gratitude and our love - yes love - for the Obamas.
I grew up in a home that revered John F. Kennedy. My father had a bust of Kennedy and I often wondered how a President could be so important to anybody, but I get it now. I ordered a print of President Obama today to hang in our home. I get it now.
In 2008, my husband and I were newly married, living in a neighborhood in Chicago called Andersonville. It is a diverse area and the excitement was palpable. The campaign was hope personified. I remember well leaving work early to go vote that day. It was warm for a November day and I was sweating, but that could've been the excitement. I had never been so passionate about politics or about a politician in my adult life and this was a very big deal, especially to Chicago. The city and it's inhabitants were electric.
When he won that night, the whoops and hollers and crying in our city were widespread and there was no better word to describe the mood in the air - it was hopeful.
We had four years and then we were lucky enough to have four more.
The Obamas have helped to make me into a better, kinder, more hopeful and more sound grown up. It's true.
In 2013, through science, hope and love, we had our twin miracle babies. We brought these babies into such a hopeful world that same sex marriage was to be legal. Where education, the arts, and diversity were encouraged and celebrated. Now we don't know where we are headed, but we know we are all responsible. We know these kids that are coming up now are going to be mighty warriors and encounter people, places and things the likes of which we never dreamed. Just as our parents never dreamed what would be happening today. I am nervous for our future today. But I also know that I will carry on in kindness and not hate. I will not support hate in any form and I will not encourage those who do. I will not act like it is normal to treat anybody as less than.
Every time we saw our President on television or heard him speak, we knew it would be something logical, rational and well thought out. Nothing offensive and no worry of scandal or impropriety. We felt safe with him. We knew he had our backs.
It's no secret that FLOTUS Obama is one of my heroes. She has served us all so well and we weren't even worthy of her. And our President of the United States, Our President Barack Obama (Rock Obama as our kids have called him since they could speak), well, it has been an honor and a privilege to vote for you, to listen to you, to watch you practice calm reassurance, gratitude, humility, and courage under massive fire while in office.
I wish the Obamas rest and relaxation. I wish them time out of the spotlight. I wish them rejuvenation and and regeneration of spirit to come back to us even stronger because we need them more than ever.
As so many have said of this family, of this couple, it wasn't even about them, it was about us. And while there have been mis-steps and impossible situations to handle perfectly along the way, he did a damn good job for us. While many of us realize this now, my hope is that one day many more will realize the fundamental service this family gave us for a greater good.
When I need a shot of hope and another good cry, I go here and listen to his last speech as President. A highlight:
But laws alone won't be enough. Hearts must change. It won't change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction — Atticus Finch — (applause) — who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
The way he speaks. The way he smiles. His confidence and his swagger. The way he diffuses a negative situation with a look or a joke, well, I believe him to be a national, hell, global treasure. I will miss him incredibly. I am so incredibly thankful to be living in this time, to have been given the Obamas as this generous gift to us, a gift so many threw back in their face, but not us. Their compassion and empathy are rare and never taken for granted. We are thankful. SO thankful.
While I'm sad, deeply, incredibly sad that their time is done, I am forever hopeful. I've got buckets full of hope, that audacity, and they are partially responsible for that. It's self preservation you see, and the promise of so many bright shining stars I see all around our orbit doing good work every single day. Not hateful, not tearing down, but building up. Along with these kids coming up, we are going to do great things and we will have kindness and love.
We will be carrying on the dream. Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we can.
Thanks, Obama. For everything.
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