Clare’s birthday is Nov. 8. — this year she didn’t get the gift she hoped for.

We all struggle to adapt to this new world, but must push on.

by Kate McCarthy

My best friend’s birthday falls on Nov. 4. Back in 2008, Clare was a serious, blond, saucer-eyed waif with a keen interest in politics. So she asked that her 10th birthday party be centered around election night. It proved to be one for the history books, as Clare received the best birthday gift she could ask for: the election of Barack Obama.

Much of my morning after this election night was spent crying; then I got mad at myself for crying, because I don’t have the most to fear with this presidency; and then I looked at that one picture of Joe Biden finding two quarters on the ground, and cried some more.

There’s a lot to feel, but here’s what I have landed on: We protest not for a tangible outcome, but rather as an act of love and support for marginalized people everywhere.

I want to chant along at the top of my lungs, but not the phrase “not my president”, because he is our president — we put him in office, and it’s a wake-up call to address the deep fissures of our divided country.

I want to listen to what the other side has to say in an effort to understand where their anger comes from, but not if that means justifying racism, homophobia, misogyny, or xenophobia.

I want to give him a chance and hope for the best, but never forget that this is not normal. I want to feel better, but sustain this productive outrage in the coming four years.

Clare is now a freshman at the United States Naval Academy. Like many of us, she was broken by the election. As my mother put it, “We enshrined ignorance.”

So Clare wrote herself a note: “I want to make sure that I remember the pain and frustration I feel today. For women, for Hillary, for all of it. This is my pledge. It is my pledge to make this a better country that can include everyone without stooping to their level.”

Clare keeps this note folded in her uniform hat — a reminder of what’s important.

Remembering that stoic little girl in ’08, and the hope she still has today, I know we’ll rise to the occasion.