Pride is an odd thing. A deadly sin. An award unlooked for, yet keenly felt. I look back at the Repeal campaign with nothing but pride. I try to be angry. The vituperation. The calumny. The stakes. Such high stakes. Not a wager I could lose, for my body was not in the game. A proponent yes, an active participant in the contest, but for my part, necessarily a mere game. I stood to gain nor lose anything of me or my rights. I am left with my pride. I helped. And nothing I ever do in life will ever have such consequence. I helped where others wouldn’t. I helped where those that needed help, risked all.
I am prouder of this than I can express in mere words. It comforts me now, no matter the vicissitudes, the normalcy, the ennui, there was a thing I did. And did well. It was both process and instances. I was there from the beginning. I suggested it. “Why not Kerry?” I said. Why not Kerry? Then Paula made it happen. The details, the innumerable details. All these, she met and ticked and identified the next. I am proud of my question.
I am proud of every door I knocked on. I am proud of every canvasser coached and every door they knocked on. I am proud of their politeness when politeness was not deserved. I am proud of every evening spent in expectation of abuse. I am proud of the mountains scaled. I am proud of the tallying of the count. I am proud of the reserve. I am proud that I now know people I scarcely deserve to know.
All this pride but there was this single moment where all that pride was distilled. When I tasted the purest form of pride. When I knew I had achieved more than I am ordinarily capable. I gave a speech at our celebration. Of course, I did. For weeks I had been preparing in my mind two forms of consolation. The lesser, a national victory but a local defeat. The greater, utter ruin. My sense of duty was such that I felt it my responsibility. That was pride and that was vain. It was not my place nor would I have had the words. The stakes were beyond my comprehension.
We were all there. Well fed. Exhausted. I thanked them all. So vain to think they required my gratitude. Then I referred to Paula. Who carried us all. Who made all possible. There was applause. Such applause. Even now my hackles rise at that great sound. Our leader given her due. And oh, the pride I feel still. That sound is my pride and joy. Her sacrifice of health and well-being. The scars still carried. If I live to be a hundred that sound will carry me on. My pride.