“Mom, does it cost money to get checks?”
I received this millennial-surprise text from my daughter today – honestly, I didn’t even know millennials used checks. I thought that was sort of taboo for the digital generation, but apparently not.
She turned twenty this month, and is spending her first summer in an apartment – not at a camp or on vacation or in her bedroom at home. No, she’s all alone. Not even her boyfriend is around. She’s working two jobs, buying groceries and lugging her laundry downstairs. She’s paying her bills (by check, apparently), having dinner with friends and watching chick-flicks in the movie theater. All these normal, ordinary activities, that today make me pause and worry, just for a moment.
Despite her fierce independence, she’s still learning all these things as she’s balancing on the cusp of adulthood.
In these last days after the Orlando shooting, I’ve been waking up sad every morning. I can’t escape the news, the stories, or the sadness I feel when I think about all the posts I’ve written about shootings and gun violence. I just can’t shake it; today I could hardly leave the house. I just wanted to be quiet, be with my son taking the dog for a walk and planting peppers in our vegetable garden.
As I did all these peaceful, normal activities today, I started thinking about my girl, sitting in the reception area of her workplace. She has a job “in her field” during the day – not making much money, but earning invaluable experience. She’s the first person people see when they enter; she’s responsible for helping things run smoothly, for writing, designing, and event planning. She works in a restaurant, too- seating customers, making them comfortable, being the first smiling face they see for their dining experience. She’s perfect for both jobs. She’s doing all the normal, adult-like things – just like all the young people in Orlando were – never imagining that it would be their last time.
She’s on the cusp of adulthood, figuring out what kind of job she wants to look for when she graduates, figuring out who she is.
My son, just sixteen and finding his first job this summer, is testing out adulthood. He’s been hired at the karate school he’s been going to since he was four years old. He’s so excited to be employed, so eager to teach and learn and surround himself with mentors. He’s further from the cusp, but closing in.
Last night, just before bedtime, we heard the list of victims of the Orlando shooter – most on the cusp of adulthood themselves – all spending an evening together, in a place they felt safe and relaxed. All full of life and possibilities and hope for their future. All killed by someone who felt powerless and hateful.
I understand the feeling of being powerless. Each time I learn of gun violence I shiver and feel it washing over me. I write and talk and listen and try to use my voice to make change, but still, change eludes me. I fight the feeling of hate, searching the dark parts of my soul for a way to understand. But still, it often eludes me.
Last night my friend Jen texted me to see how I was doing. We shared our difficulty with getting out to face the day in the midst of such suffering, and at the end of our conversation she typed something that has etched in my mind- something that helps me make today just a bit easier. She said, “Me too…and thank God there are so many more loving than hating people in the world. Blessings ”
I know so many of us feel this, too. As I type tonight, I’m catching the filibuster happening for the last ten hours in Congress. I’m halfway listening to the pundits process every political proclamation, and I’m feeling sad, wondering how many more on the cusp of adulthood will have to suffer before we can come together and make policy that will help mothers like me, and Jen, breathe easier through the night.
So many more loving people in the world. Yes. I’ll breathe that in, hold it close to my heart.