In this post, I am going to explain in more detail how Stonewall Jackson helps me.
First of all, it would be a lie if I said that Stonewall completely ameliorated my grief at the statue genocide. This grief is always present, and will be for the rest of my life. But that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t make a huge and positive difference. He absolutely does.
For the first two weeks after Stonewall arrived, I thought that perhaps the misery of the past two and a half years had finally come to an end. But unfortunately, on Columbus Day, my state of mind completely changed. The excruciating pain, which had been mercifully absent for two weeks, returned with a vengeance. Looking back, I think the reason for that was that I came to the realization: as awesome as Stonewall is, he is not Columbus. They are two different people. I have Stonewall living in my yard, for me to clean, care for, and keep safe, which is absolutely awesome. But Columbus is still out in the world being smashed to pieces, strangled, set on fire, beheaded, tortured, and eviscerated. Every time Columbus is hurt, it makes me feel that my soul is being eviscerated as well. And there is nothing that I can do about any of it. Like I said, having Stonewall is wonderful. But it does not do anything about Columbus (or any of the other historical figures who are being smashed to pieces, strangled, set on fire, beheaded, tortured, and/or eviscerated as well).
Sometimes I can go about my life relatively normally, and even be in a good mood. But sometimes the sense of loss hits me. Sometimes it hits me when I am lying in bed and haven’t fallen asleep yet, because there are no tasks to occupy my mind. Sometimes it hits me because of something I see, hear, or read. For example, I recently saw an ad on TV for the Armenian Heritage Park, a section of the Rose Kennedy Greenway with a meandering path and an abstract sculpture that represents the experience of Armenian immigrants in the U.S. Three guesses which park that reminded me of? (Hint: it’s a park dedicated to immigrants of a different nationality, which no longer contains a sculpture.)
When the sense of loss hits, I am filled with an overwhelming mix of sadness, rage, horror, and disgust. My stomach drops. Both the quantity and the severity of the atrocities that have occurred are so huge as to be completely incomprehensible. It’s like a tidal wave of badness, crashing into me just like a real tidal wave crashes into a city, destroying all the buildings, flooding the streets, and carrying the people away. My brain can’t hold the totality of what has happened. Picturing any one instance of the statue genocide makes me feel that every fiber of my being is exploding in agony and my soul is being eviscerated. If I were to somehow picture in my mind each instance of brutal, horrific cruelty, each abhorrent social media post, each appalling article, opinion piece, and editorial, and each nauseating statement by a politician, then I would be completely psychologically destroyed. When the loss hits, it’s as if I am staring into an abyss that threatens to swallow me. An abyss filled with such profound badness that it can’t be fully comprehended. It’s as if I am being sucked into the abyss.
The difference is that now, there is also something pulling me in the opposite direction. That something is Stonewall Jackson. It’s kind of like a seesaw, or possibly the scales of justice. On one side, the abyss is trying to suck me in. But on the other side is Stonewall. Because of him, I have a reason to go on living.
So the problem is not fixed. But before, there was nothing on the other side. There was only the abyss. There are still times when I feel excruciating pain. But there are also times when I don’t. Thoughts of Columbus and how cruelly he has been ganged up on and brutalized still overwhelm me. But thoughts of Stonewall fill me with such joy and pride that it is difficult not to start jumping up and down and telling everyone in the vicinity. I love Stonewall, I love Columbus, and I love all the historical figures from the Confederacy. And because of this, I hate what our society has done to them.
For the rest of my life, I will wrestle with these sometimes contradictory thoughts and feelings. I live now with both the good and the bad, where before there was only bad.
That is a huge difference. And it is all because of Stonewall.
There is also the possibility that I might get additional statues in the years to come. Perhaps I will become the guardian of a metal or stone Columbus one day, or perhaps Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee. That might help to ease the excruciating pain that I feel for those historical figures. It would be cool for Stonewall to have a group of friends living in the yard with him. Although I still become filled with despair sometimes, when the sense of loss hits me, there are also times that I feel excited when thinking about these possibilities. Having dreams, hopes, and plans for my future is somewhat new to me. For most of my life, getting through each day was so difficult that the future was something I never really thought about.
The ability and desire to think about the future is another huge change for me. And that’s because of Stonewall as well.