Living in Society Social Commentary

Late Summer in Iowa

Summer Vegetables

A pall fell on Iowa as the family prepares for tomorrow’s funeral of Mollie Tibbetts, the 20 year-old college student who was murdered near Brooklyn, Iowa.

Many of us feel a connection to her whether we knew her or not. She went jogging and never came back. We grieve with her family and friends.

Many, including the 45th president, seek to politicize her death. We can’t let that stand. We won’t let it stand. May she rest in peace.

Tragic summers are part of living in Iowa.

While the current midterm election cycle will continue toward its fall conclusion, we live our lives outside of politics. The politics I have come to know recalls a few triumphant moments: Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 re-election; Dave Loebsack’s 2006 election; and maybe Barack Obama’s 2008 election. So few celebrations in the wicked world and none of them perfect. Politics is not why we go on living.

Set aside our work and endeavors to make society better, and what’s left? For some of us it is a deep and abiding love of life — including its comedic and tragic drama. If we tell ourselves stories to live, what story will we tell about this summer so we can go on living?

Division among us makes it harder to craft a narrative for holding back tears — tears of loneliness, of sadness for the loss. Tears unexpectedly salty and wet pulled down by gravity to our tongue. Impartial tears of grief. I am heartened by the idea there is no other side, just one country of which we are all a part.

In the wee hours of morning lightning and thunder preceded rain. I couldn’t sleep. I got up to get a drink of water from the kitchen and felt dizzy walking down the hall. I drank a few ounces and went back to bed, sleeping fitfully.

I’m still tired yet ready to go, ready to take on what’s next. To make the next effort worthy of a life, honorable to our predecessors and invigorating for who’s next. Despite summer’s tragedy we look forward to winter, and ultimately to spring and the chance to renew our lives.

In this moment it’s hard to contemplate the garden’s bounty. Even though it is hard, we will persevere and make something of it. A meal for today and ingredients for the future. What else will we do in the face of tragedy but go on living?