Just when you think it’s safe to move about the cabin…My last post is all about letting the title HotGrievingMILF go. I’ve been working so hard on my head and my heart and taking good care of myself. I’ve allowed love to flow to and from me through my community and my family. I regained my inner strength and have been thriving.
First came the election. I countered that huge upset by getting up the morning after and heading to the Ferry Building in San Francisco with a few friends and signs that read, “Free Hugs.” Instead of sitting at home arguing on social media and yelling at my laptop, I received hugs from dozens of people, some of them crying in my arms. I made a promise to keep my tickets to the inauguration and protest with even more hugs. Make America Kind Again was our slogan. But the worst was yet to come.
Saturday morning I woke up to a message from a friend of 20 years: “For clarity, I am safe…A fire broke out at Ghostship. Many are unaccounted for…Please only post missing/safe and next of kin contact in the thread…Be kind to each other folks. We are only temporary.”
I quickly learned of the tragic, devastating fire that took 36 lives less than three miles from my home. My daughter has a friend who lost someone. My housemate’s son lost three friends. I have friends who have lost upwards of five and six friends. It is an unimaginable tragedy. The photo above is my friend and I in the International Business News, a UK paper. A friend in Florida heard me on the morning news saying that this could have been me. This could have been anyone of us.
The grief settled back in my heart HARD. My whole city was grieving, and the world was watching. Oakland banded together and hosted an amazing (electric, no flames please) candlelight vigil at our beautiful Lake Merritt pergola. We were back with our hugs, and received many from mourners young and old. The youngest I interacted with were two little girls, just old enough to speak in full sentences in their squeaky voices. They told me all about their mom’s friend who died. They had met him once but not the second time because now he’s dead in the fire. We hugged some more, these beautiful little creatures and I. My heart broke into even more pieces.
Something changed in me Wednesday night. I got out of the house and went to a meeting. It was a closed meeting with no press. It was community movers and shakers who wanted to make change, to make sure this never happens again, to make sure the survivors and all the artists living in potentially unsafe places never, ever experience anything like this. The friend I mentioned above now says, “The greatest eulogy to our friends is to ensure that a tragedy like this will not occur again.”
I joined the fundraising team and am working hard to build structure and raise money for those living in unsafe warehouses. I want to help to make them safe. I know these warehouses. I haven’t lived in them but I’ve created art in them, hung out in them, partied in them, held meetings in them. This could have been me. This could have been you.
What I didn’t know that night, that I know now, is that a friend lost her 13 year old daughter. She had the flu and just died suddenly. The grief and the desperation I feel for the family are indescribable. My children knew her and are scared and sad.
I want to be strong, as strong as others say I am. Friends point this out to me, that I have an inner strength that I need to let flow so that others may tap into it as a resource. It’s there, I can feel it. I have stepped into my power finally, after many years of being told to. Of being afraid of it, of denying it, of not trusting it. Yet it feels like I’ve had to break and shatter into a million pieces in order to tap into it myself. I see it now, and I trust it now. Most importantly, I feel it.
I’m not feeling hot and I’m not feeling like a MILF. I am feeling grief. As much as I want to move away from the grief, it is there for me and for my children and for my community. We are all grieving. This year has changed all of us profoundly. Grief is our birthright. Grief is in our hearts. It holds my hand everyday. For now, then, I remain,