The movers unloaded the furniture and personal items at the Obamas' new D.C. residence, and I find myself ill-prepared to say goodbye.

I've been shuffling through the past few weeks in a haze, clinging to the first family's final moments in the White House, lost in what can only be described as a kind of grief.

President Barack Obama cries as he speaks during his farewell address in Chicago. Photo by Joshua Lott/AFP/Getty Images.


I don’t have to agree with my president. I don’t have to want to share a beer with him or want to be his friend. But win or lose, I want my president to be just that: my president.

I want him to think of me or, more accurately, people like me. People who don’t look like him, act like him, or necessarily agree with him. I want him to consider people who live a world away from him in class, geography, age, and upbringing. I want my president to listen to demonstrators and respond not with threats or aggression but with compassion and be open to criticism and feedback. I want my president to have some respect for this country and its citizens, whether they voted for him or not.

I grieve not for the man who’s leaving, but for the people who stand to lose when he departs.

His successor campaigned on and is setting into motion a wave of policy changes that threaten the health, safety, and well-being of millions of Americans.

I grieve for the people who may lose their access to their medical insurance and affordable health care, including from clinics like Planned Parenthood. I grieve for the people of color, Muslims, and Jews who fear for their safety in the wake of brutal hate crimes and the sexual assault survivors who may be reminded of their own attacks every single time this man takes the podium. I grieve for the refugees and immigrants who face uncertain futures, no matter how long they've called this country home. And I grieve for the LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families who fear their marriages and civil rights are on the chopping block.  

Whether they voted for him, against him, or not at all, millions of people — many of them already vulnerable — will be left to deal with the consequences of this president-elect's decisions. I think of all this, and I grieve.

Obama greets kids at the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

I still remember listening to Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” no less than a dozen times the day after Obama was elected.

I held my head high on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, my old, crappy earbuds falling out and lovingly replaced with each confident step.

Two months later, I cheered, hollered, and shed a small frozen tear at his chilly inauguration. Nothing could dim my shine. My president was black.

Obama tours Kenai Fjords National Park by boat. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

But it was more than that.

My president believed in education. He read books. Lots of them. He trusted good science. He encouraged children (and grown-ups) to invent, create, code, and think their way to a better world.

Obama sits with a Lego statue during preparations for the South by South Lawn event at the White House.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Medium.

My president was put together. He was mature and cool under pressure. He carried himself with the gravitas, passion, and self-deprecating sense of humor his position demanded, even when it would've been easier to resort to vicious attacks.

Obama in the Rose Garden. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

My president was accessible. Maybe not, "here's my cell phone number" accessible, but he opened the doors of the White House to welcome diverse performers, experts, civilians, nonprofit leaders, children, and more from across the nation and around the world, even starting his own Big Block of Cheese Day. He made the White House "our" house again.

Obama  talks with Girl Scouts, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the White House Science Fair in 2015. Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy/Flickr.

My president was kind. He smiled around kids. He paid attention to people from all walks of life. He doted on his wife. His daughters seemed to adore him. He was well respected, affable, and compassionate.

My president made me proud. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Alabama. Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson/Flickr.

President Obama wasn’t perfect. Far from it.

He approached issues at home and abroad in ways I didn’t always agree with, and without the sense of urgency some situations required. From his use of drone strikes to the delays and silence at Standing Rock and multiple moments and missteps in between. I often wonder how much more he could have accomplished, how much further we’d be today if he’d acted with the progressive courage we saw on the campaign trail in 2008.

Obama takes a call in the Oval Office. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

Still, I will remember his presidency fondly. On Inauguration Day, I will grieve. Then, I will get back to work.

That former grad student blasting old Kanye still remembers how good it felt to have hope. How strong and powerful I felt when I spoke up and knew my voice was heard. We all deserve to feel that, and feel respected by our elected leaders, no matter who is in the White House.

A lot of things change with a new administration, but doing what's right and treating people with respect should not.

The president's wave aligns with a rainbow as he boards Air Force One. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza/Flickr.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Family

Two sisters ask their stepmom to adopt them with sweet memory book

"We were already calling her mom because it felt so natural."

Gabriella Ruvolo/TikTok

Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo asked their stepmom to adopt them in a touching video.

Sisters Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo know that they're extremely lucky. Their stepmom Becky Ruvolo has been there for them for most of their lives and it's clear that they're grateful to her for it. On May 9, Gabriella posted a video to TikTok to share the very special way the young women honored their stepmom for Mother's Day.

In the short clip, you can see Becky flanked by the two girls, flipping through a book. On the video are the words "After 12 years… we finally asked our step-mom to adopt us." As Becky goes through the pages, you can see her becoming increasingly more emotional before she gets to the last page. By then, all three of the women are crying.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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