I remember waking up the morning after Election Day in 2016 with my chosen family in northern Virginia, and I remember us all crying and hugging each other for the great loss we had experienced. I remember dragging myself to work and so many women-identifying colleagues and friends coming into our communal office, crying and hugging each other for comfort. It was a day I will never forget.

We weren’t mourning the loss of an election—no, we were mourning the loss of caring and decency from the American people and its leader. We were mourning the setbacks that we, as women, would have to experience after fighting for decades upon decades to earn equal rights and respect in American society. We were mourning for those whose conditions and/or identities we could not fully understand but nevertheless held to be of utmost importance: transgender people, people with disabilities, Black people, and more. It was one of the darkest days.

I still struggle to understand how anyone could endorse Donald Trump, knowing the hatred that he consistently endorses and encourages. I struggle to understand how people can vote selfishly, when, in reality, their vote impacts SO many more people aside from themselves. I struggle with the fact that so many American people are so selfish and/or have a myopic fixation on one facet of politics, that they cannot bring themselves to consider any other issues.

Fast forward to this morning—I remember receiving the news first from my brother and quickly checking reputable news sources such as CNN, BBC, and NBC. I remember weeping, but this time it was not mournful. This time, my tears were tears of utter relief and joy. Finally, we can begin to heal our nation, to turn hatred into understanding, and we can care for one another once again. This is what was on the line—not a political decision, but a deeply, deeply human decision.

It is a decision to choose love over hate, to choose the greater good over selfish desires, to choose understanding over ignorance, and so much more.

I remember watching the speeches from VP Harris and President Biden and weeping—again, not from mourning, but from hope. For the first time in four years, I have felt hope for America.