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Misery Loves Company

By The Angel of Mercy ~

My grandmother grew up in the deep South where her kind were hunted like wild animals, murdered mercilessly, and treated like garbage. Though she is far removed from that place now, the remnants of the abuse she has senselessly suffered due to the color of her skin has formed the very core of who she is. When she tells me stories from her childhood, none of them are ever happy --- ever. Like a gay person who refuses to accept and love herself, she is trapped in a mental cycle of self-loathing narcissism. I don't think she'll ever escape.

She is happiest when describing the glorious day that she will go to meet the Lord. Dreams of heavenly gates, billowy clouds, and gold-plated streets fill her mind as her eyes close and tears form. I stroke her imagination. I tell her that God will be pleased with her service and that her name is surely written in the Book of Life. I am lying.

I go with her on Sundays to that dreaded place filled with the living dead, just to hear her sing. The people there are more concerned with who's wearing the nicest clothes than they are world peace, love, the war in Afghanistan or anything else that actually matters. I drag my husband and son along with me. We are both grateful when our toddler is too rambunctious to sit still. It gives us an excuse to leave the sanctuary during the awful sermons.

I want to dream with her. I want to assure her that her dreams will come true, even if I believe they won't. When you love someone, you will do or say whatever it takes to make them feel good --- even if it isn't true. I hope that my lies bring her comfort because, even if she lives another 30 years, I will probably live much, much longer. The fact is, she will die --- sooner than later --- and I will miss her terribly.

No matter how hard anyone prays, once she is dead no one in our family will ever get to hug her again. By then, it will be too late to appreciate her for who she is, what she's been through, how her story has helped shape us all. She will be gone --- her existence ended as though she were never born.

I am so grateful that I have the chance to love her now, in the twilight of her life. I was so fortunate to have been the one to give her a great grandson who is the reason she lives now. He is her joy.

When my grandmother dies, I will be sad to see her go, but I am not disillusioned by the fantasy to which she so eagerly clings. You see, because she has suffered so much in real life as an actual human being who I know, and can smell, touch, see, hear, and love, I am living the American Dream. It is because of people like my grandmother, who believed that life could be better for their children and grandchildren, that I get to see the spectacular sights from my vantage point upon the shoulders of giants. She, and other civil rights and abolitionist heroes, fought so hard for my freedom and I do not take it for granted.

No god --- not Yahweh, not Jesus, not Santa Claus --- has ever done anything for me that could even compare to the sacrifices my grandmother has had to make in order for me to live a good life.