Monica Roget took to the lectern and spoke of the complicated nature of history. It was a spell of words whose curlicued resonance spoke of strength through tragedy. It wasn’t a speech so much as it was evidence of a torch’s ability to light up the darkest night. Monica’s words possessed savvy and pluck, passion and fire; they were hard earned and honest ones whose relevance was not heightened or mitigated by a big stage and a large crowd and network coverage. Those in attendance simply felt honored to be there with her, sharing in a moment. They listened intently, in awe of the speaker and the history she had constructed out of memories and loss and rebirth.
The junior Senator from Louisiana was making national headlines as the leading voice in the push for nationwide gun laws; regulations whose intent wasn’t to take away guns, but to save lives. After decades of watching others avoid powerful lobbies such as the NRA in their quest for common sense standards, Monica decided to just go right through them. She took them on full swing and she won. It was in her bill to implement national standards for firearms and the outright ban of assault weapons- with punitive measures for anyone found in possession of one- that she said hello to a nation, at the tender age of thirty one.
There were parts of her speech that would soon become the literary equivalent of stealing home. Picked and prospered by national publications and bloggers, late night and morning show hosts, radio dicks and Hollywood chicks . . . writers and poets. And there was a passage in which the dreamers all met- a simple and destined place whose words shook the ground and charted the stars above.
“We are not taking away guns, we are taking back our lives. Because while it’s too late for those victims of gun violence, we must not be too late to our future. Because our future is the here and now, it is the future those victims never got to see, the one we must see through . . for them. We are the eyes to their souls, the fruition of their dreams. Our diligence, our cooperation, our best efforts . . they are simply the wishes of a yesterday that is gone but not forgotten. We are their sunrise. Because a sunrise holds answers . . a sunrise never lies . . it simply welcomes all who cross its path, it bathes us, it forgives our darkest moments. Ladies and gentlemen? Morning . . . has arrived,”
The Savoy Bill was passed into law on the twenty ninth anniversary of the musician Jasmine Savoy’s tragic death. Progress had been painfully slow in coming, but it was here, finally. Thanks to a young woman whose talents were busy making the world a better place. Monica Roget was living proof that the angels didn’t get all the best company after all.
Senator Roget had grown up listening to Jasmine’s music. She cried herself to sleep on many a night, wishing she had been able to meet her . . to know her. So she turned that heartache inward, and she dreamed of a day when she might be able to do just that. An orphan, she was raised by her great Aunt to believe in music, prayer and the value of hard work.
She married a musician, Kurt Roget, who wrote songs and recited poetry about star crossed lovers and the wicked world and the cosmos brilliant message. In closing, Monica read a passage from her husband’s poem Lost Girl, as the crowd erupted and the great big world felt young and boundless.
I hold to the memory of you in those lost moments,
My mind a never ending book to which my soul heeds . .
The keeping of stars in my back pocket,
to tranquil my restlessness and parse my cunning needs.
She bid adieu and then moved into the crowd to greet her many adoring fans. And then it was, that a shadow made its way through the cheers and laughter of forever. This shadow, it was small of stature and it moved clumsily, but with great earnestness. Until this lovely young girl in a turquoise dress appeared from out of that shadow, and she held up her hand.
Those people surrounding Monica Roget went silent as they watched, in awe, a moment that would become iconic. The young girl held out a sunflower and Monica, with tears in her eyes, accepted her hand and the gift inside of it. And the young girl let Monica know she was a big fan of her late mother’s music, and then she said simply,
She would be proud.