I didn't cry during the swearing in. I didn't cry during the prayers. I didn't cry at the beautiful picture of the Obama family, grandmother included, or the amazing Inaugural Address. I surely did not cry when George Bush climbed aboard the helicopter that would take him back to Texas.
But later, that night, I cried.
It happened when I watched Beyonce sing At Last, the Etta James song she chose to honor the new first couple with at their first Inugural Dance.
So many things came together for me then.
My son, now 27 (same age as Beyonce) forced me to watch an MTV special about her almost ten years ago, when they were both eighteen and she was barely known. He told me then that she was the best thing since sliced bread (ok, he used some other descriptive words) so I watched it with him, and I have adored that young woman ever since. Unlike her peers, Brittany and Jessica and Lindsay, (and sad to say, my son, who also filled the intervening years with some serious missteps and our lives with the heartbreak of addictions) she has been unfailingly gracious and graceful... she oozes class and dignity. And she is so talented, and beautiful beyond belief. The MTV special, I recall, told all about how her mother made all of her outfits for Destiny's Child and showed home videos of her early singing attempts. Like the Obamas, Beyonce is a real American from a regular family.
Please watch carefully the emotion in her face, especially at the end of the song, when she breaks character and is nearly overcome as she and the first couple stand in mutual admiration. She is a superstar, mega-rich, and internationally known. But she is still the little girl from humble beginnings, the one my son made me watch a TV special about.
At last.... we have real human beings in seats of power.
At last.... my son is in recovery from his addictions of all these years.
At last... we who have longed for a return to sanity, waiting to exhale, can breathe free.
It is, we know, not an end but a beginning, and nothing can guarantee this moment will endure. In fact, we never get to say "at last" once and for all, because we are always arriving. But it is so good to rest on a plateau now and then. So good. At last.