Friday, October 19, 2007

The American Idea

I am looking at the American Idea through a long lens trained on the life of my daughter, which lasted 29 days, and its aftereffects.
My parents are immigrants and when they got here, they (like all immigrants) hit the ground running. In raising me, they imbued my consciousness with all the things we all assume when we think of this singular idea of our country. It is, after all, the essence of the American identity, which I embodied for them. They told me I'd be the first woman president of the US (though mercifully it seems I might be beaten to that punch). I was told in school as evidence of my specialness that "God don't make no Junk!" For me, the takeaway was that a future dutifully-planned and carefully-examined would lead to a good (i.e. stable, prosperous and happy) life.
In the wake of my daughter's death, I think that my utter disbelief and disappointment is in part a response to the horrible realization that I won't have a straightforward happy life. The most basic assumption about my path, no matter what equivocating I might have done on the surface of my consciousness is shattered.

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