The Day After


Last night I got up around 11. Bleary-eyed scroll through my Facebook feed. My stomach felt like it dropped out of my body. I stumbled back to bed, didn’t sleep well.

Up at 5 am. We’re out of oatmeal, so I have an overly sweet bowl of Cheerios, which the kids think is hilarious. I alternate between not being able to look at social media and not being able to look away. My tea goes cold without my drinking it.

I’d like to say I was love and peace embodied with my children, but that would be a lie. I was short with them. We were in survival mode. Max and Ruby while the baby napped, then a walk to the grocery store. Popcorn and apples for lunch. I stare out the window as the sun crests the hill, filling the kitchen with light.

“What’s that light, Mama?” Colm asks, pointing to a patch on the wall.

“It’s the sun, baby.”

P gets home from work. I pace like a caged animal; put my boots on, my parka, my hat. I walk alone by the river, up and down. The sun feels good. The slush ice shushes down the river. Open water is lit rose-gold in the sun that is always rising and setting at once now.

On my way home I stop in at the Tavern. Classic rock on the radio, blessed sports on the old t.v. A few guys play Yahtzee and drink beer at the bar. One of my favourite ladies, Yogi, sits at the bar, decked out in a red sweater, red silk scarf threaded with gold tied at her throat, red earrings. Here in the Yukon we’ve just had an election, and a local man, a Liberal, won. It was a victory for us: she’s wearing red to honour it. Red means something so very different today, though, for so many people. The map of the United States going red, red, red. I have a tea, buy her a beer. We talk about radio bingo, about her grandchildren, about curling, about addiction. When I finally stand to leave, I feel lighter. A young guy walks in with a huge pack on his back: paragliding gear. Yogi says she’s always wanted to do that: sail on air currents from the top of the Midnight Dome to the landing by the river on Front Street.

“Me, too,” I say. I shrug on my parka and we promise to do it together, next summer.

This election has exposed some ugly truths. And I don’t think for a minute that my country is immune to the racism, the xenophobia, the misogyny. But life goes on. We take it one step at a time. We get through today, and wait for what tomorrow brings.

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