Nurse Kelley Sez: “I want my country back”

I don’t have anything new or insightful to say about the mass killings we’ve witnessed, but my feelings about them need a voice before I fall apart.

The one last week, the one at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Colorado Springs, hit particularly close to home because I live just a few miles from there. One of the murdered innocents was Ke’Arre Stewart, a 29-year-old Iraq war veteran who was shot when he stepped outside the clinic to get cell phone reception. Ke’Arre’s brother Leyonte Chandler said it was his sibling’s Army experience that prompted his final act of heroism. “I believe that’s his military instinct, you know: Leave no soldier behind, leave no civilian behind, just leave no one behind,” an emotional Chandler said. “So he ran back inside, trying to help out others. I don’t know where he was at, as far as how many more breaths he had, but he knew. And before his time ran out I guess that was his main priority … to help and save other lives.”

And what was a tough vet doing at Planned Parenthood on a snowy November day? He and his fiancée were there to confirm a new pregnancy. A new life. Something about his story just tears me apart. A guy who has faced combat should be able to come home, fall in love, make a baby, and not worry about some redneck stranger killing him in his home town.

Folks, there is no safe place in the United States. I live high up in the Rocky Mountains, a land where I have found serenity and joy and quiet and beauty. Yet the last known public sighting of the bastard who brought death to a women’s health clinic was that same snowy morning at the WalMart store just up the highway from me in Woodland Park. I was in that store yesterday, picking up a prescription. I drove home, thanking the universe for the beauty of the mountains … and arrived home to learn about San Bernardino.

I feel like something is breaking inside of me. My tears are so close to the surface they overflow at inopportune times, like today when my dentist gave me an odd look and asked, “Are you okay? Because you don’t look okay,” or when I was paying for something at a store and a clerk unwisely smiled at me. I don’t know how to fix any of this, but I know what I’m feeling: it’s grief. I cried like this when my mother died, and when beloved pets had to be euthanized. I cried like this this when I miscarried a baby. I cried like this on 9/11.

I want my country back. I want to encounter civility when I leave home. I want to turn on the news without a spurt of adrenaline warning me away. I want my grandsons to grow up without fearing being shot by the police. I want to believe there is some small chance that we WILL see world peace before I die, and I want to find some hope that our planet won’t die shortly after I do.

Ah. It’s more than grief I’m feeling; it’s also despair.

  8 comments for “Nurse Kelley Sez: “I want my country back”

  1. JanF
    December 4, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Nurse Kelley, I careen between complete despair and “goddess, there has to be SOMETHING we can do!” The news is simply so overwhelmingly bad lately … the waves of hatred that seem to roll off of our fellow citizens are spirit crushing. Hate Muslims, Hate Blacks, Hate Hispanics, Hate Women, Hate – really – everyone that is not exactly like them.

    I am not ready to give up yet, for the sake of my daughter. But some days are more difficult than others.

    Here is the problem from a political point of view: even if we hang onto the presidency next year, we still won’t have Congress which means we still can’t FIX any of the things that are making this country so awful right now. We will have Paul Ryan and his puny vision of America’s future one where the social safety net is burned and buried because magical unicorns will poop jobs for folks who have been looking for jobs for 7 years, ever since George W. Bush crashed the world economy.

    With that looming, despair is going to be easier than hope.

  2. JanF
    December 4, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    There are some good people, trying to do the right thing:

    Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Thursday warned that the Justice Department could take aggressive action against people whose anti-Muslim rhetoric “edges towards violence” and told the Muslim community that “we stand with you in this.”

    Speaking at Muslim Advocate’s 10th anniversary dinner, Lynch said since the terrorist attacks in Paris last month, she is increasingly concerned with the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric … that fear is my greatest fear.” […]

    … heated political rhetoric such as GOP presidential front runner Donald Trump’s call to register Muslim Americans, has Muslim community leaders worried that they could be facing a new era of discrimination.

    Lynch made it clear that she shares those concerns, but vowed to use the DOJ to protect Muslims from discrimination and violence. […]

    “My message not just to the Muslim community but to all Americans is ‘We cannot give in to the fear that these backlashes are really based on,’” Lynch said.

  3. Ono
    December 4, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    You are not alone, honey. Not at all. (((((Kelley))))))

  4. bfitzinAR
    December 4, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    {{{Kelley}}} – I understand your grief and despair. I share it. Like you, I hang on for my grandsons. About the only comfort I have to offer is that there are more good people out there than evil. Evil always makes the big noise – and gets the headlines – but they really are outnumbered. Just in the little world over at GOS – as primary toxic as it is right now – people are working not only to elect people to change our country’s direction, but to help out those with both sudden and long-term emergencies. People are publishing diaries to raise funds for everything from Planned Parenthood to ShelterBox. I know that’s not a lot of comfort when 1 armed evil person kills 15 good people who are just minding their own businesses and trying to live their lives – but we do outnumber them and we are working (against great odds in this political climate unfortunately) to neutralize them.

    So look at your mountains and remember Who made them. “The Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with Peace on Earth, good will to Men.”

  5. Ebby
    December 4, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    {{{Kelley}}} I feel for you, and with you. Many times lately I think such grief is the only rationale response. (And I had an early similar experience at the dentist recently.) The only glimmer of hope I have to offer is that the young people I work with are passionate, socially- and environmentally-conscious and action-oriented. They should not have such a difficult world awaiting them, but when I talk with them about they want to do — and in many cases have started already — I have to feel there’s at least some hope for the planet and for us.

  6. Portlaw
    December 4, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    I understand exactly what you are saying. But. there are good people who quietly do good things. It may seem like a small example but on the bus today. a very crowded bus. a man came on with a cane and TEN people got up from their seats to offer him a place to sit. These are quiet acts of kindness but they are everywhere. Let there be peace and let us be part of it.

    • JanF
      December 5, 2015 at 5:52 am

      This is good advice, Portlaw, to look for the kindness. I think part of what we are seeing is the old newspaper adage “if it bleeds, it ledes”. We are barraged by an endless stream of bad news and the one or two nuggets of good news are either unreported or buried under so much awfulness that we can’t find it. It does not help that one of the only two political parties we are allowed to have (as Charlie Pierce puts it) is locked in a primary battle where they are appealing to the basest instincts of their party’s base and doing it with 24/7 news coverage. Do we really need to know the new heinous thing said by Donald Trump or the installation of the theocracy planned by Ted Cruz and Ben Carson? Actually, no. Until a nominee is chosen, it is all white noise and simply distracts from the fact that we are running against a party, regardless of who the nominee is. We need to work on rebuilding the 50 state strategy, getting people registered to vote (and with valid photo ids) and strategizing for Getting Out The Vote in November 2016.

  7. December 16, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Nurse Kelley, beautifully said. And we all share your feelings. We must each, in our own quiet ways, make this world a better place.

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