the little lady and i were together, watching a holiday ice skating show on the boston common when i heard the news. my hand covers my mouth, in shock, for just a second. then i bend down and whisper into her ear, “nelson mandela died.” i realize afterwards that i had said it without reservation, without any fluffy language. i wondered if that was a mistake.
she didn’t seem overly fazed at first. after a few minutes, she asks to leave. we walk to the car, and she starts asking questions: what time did he die? who was with him? how did the news people find out? are you going to cry? we listen to the coverage on npr during our ride home. more questions: do you think the white house will hang their flag halfway? will my school? can i bring my nelson mandela book to school tomorrow? then, observations: we are lucky we were in south africa while nelson mandela was still alive. obama will probably go there. i bet kelsey, heather, and rowan (our dear friends that live there) don’t know yet, since it’s the middle of the night. don’t email them, they should find out by someone there in the morning.
last night, i opened the one bottle of wine that traveled back to the states in my suitcase from south africa. feeling grateful. for all the lessons our south african trip taught us. for my friends who thought of me when they heard the news and sent messages of love. for nelson mandela, for showing us the triumph of the human spirit.
“no one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. people must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ~ nelson mandela