Monday, September 14, 2015

9/11 - Three Days & Fourteen Years After

The following is in response to a very dear friends Facebook post on 9/11. It was a great piece and carefully thought out. If you'd like, here is the link to her Facebook post.

I read your Facebook post - it's the only thing I've read since this morning. I've avoided everything I could to no good result as everyone has something to say including Chase's CEO Jamie Dimon. That's not in anyway to diminish your message as it's a good one. But all of it seems a bit much somehow and yet not quite enough of the right things. There are too many clips of the planes crashing into the towers and almost nothing about the individual people who died.

After sobbing for a while for the fourteenth year in a row and wondering why when I knew absolutely no one who perished that day I've come to the conclusion that it just doesn't matter because 3000 people, PEOPLE, died that day. And what a horrific way to go. Some of them plummeting to a certain death rather than be incinerated. Others crushed by the weight of those towers collapsing on them. How do we know? We watched over and over and over hoping for a different outcome. Hoping that by some miracle someone could have survived all the while we were playing out Einstein's maxim about the definition of insanity.

To say we as a species are flawed and capable of unspeakable horror seems to also be a disservice because I also know we can be quite capable of immeasurable kindness and bravery of which I've been the recipient of both traits. But I have to wonder about a society that doesn't see that the loss we suffered when those planes came crashing down is almost nothing compared to the devastation Japan experienced when nuclear bombs crashed into two of their cities. "The two bombings, which killed at least 129,000 people, remain the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history." According to Wikipedia. 

I guess the bottom line for me isn't who the perpetrator was as much as knowing so many people lost their lives over government or religious ideology. (And no, I don't believe the conspiracy theories.)  There are lessons to be learned but instead we seem to be intent on exacting a revenge. Or worse, wallowing in a social media pile of self-pity & righteous indignation.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Life Without Mom

At the beginning of the week a question was posed to the Gay Dads group on Facebook. The moderator wanted to know how we as gay men observe Mother's Day as he was doing some research for an article. I responded with a link to the post from last year with what we did. You can read last year's post here.  A few days later he came back and asked me if I could just cut it down to a few sentences as he really liked the post but wanted them in my words. I thought he was putting together something together for the Facebook group and submitted a few lines to him but it was for the Huffington Post (The Huffington Post!) and you can read that article here.

This year will have a different feel for us as it will be the first one without Robbie's mom. We were supposed to go to Michigan for the weekend to observe the day with his family, but a failed septic system has caused those plans to be scrapped. That crappy news (see what I did there?) has given me time to figure out what to do with a post I wrote a while back after having dinner with our friends Azure and Justin a few months ago. Azure was asking about how Robbie was doing with the loss of his mom and then the focus turned to me and I answered as honestly as I could about the loss I felt especially contrasted with how my mother is. I felt horrible when she started tearing up asking me more questions such as when was the last time Riley had seen her grandmother and her not understanding how anyone couldn't want to be a part of such a sweet girls life. Those tears in turn made me feel bad for making Azure so sad. I kept reassuring her that I really was okay and that I had accepted the reality of my mother. A few more tears and hugs later, we came home and I wrote the following piece. I've debated about sharing it as I really don't want to cause harm to anyone. But sometimes the best you can hope for is tell the truth and be free of it.

I’m not sure if I can do this, but here goes. Mom, you have to go. 

Really. 

I came to this conclusion after telling our story matter-of-factly to friends Saturday evening and finding them both horrified and saddened by our history over the past 5 almost 6 years. (I didn’t even delve into the prior 40 years.) While I was okay in recounting it I have come to the conclusion that sharing it does nothing but make people feel bad and that is not what I want. I try and make it somewhat comical - there is truly a fine line between comedy and tragedy - but I’m finding that most people can’t accept the distance you’ve maintained while only living twenty minutes away. And I can’t have people crying over something that I can’t fix or change. 

So, you have to go. If anyone asks, I will just simply say we don’t have a relationship, haven’t had one for years, and that it’s a mutual impasse. But that’s not really true, is it? The impasse is all yours as we have everything to try and include you in our lives from which you promptly disappeared. You’ve moved three times that I know of without telling me. Plus it’s very difficult to call someone when a phone number is never given. The last one I have of yours hasn’t worked in over 6 years - I tried it on several occasions and then just gave up.

It’s not that I got tired of everyone saying that you were making an effort to change either. We know it’s not true. Making an effort would be more than just harassing my husband at a family gathering to find out what I’m angry about. First, he told you it wasn’t his place to speak for me. Second, I’m not angry. Anger was 5 or 6 years ago. Now I just don’t have the energy to do the steps to this dance anymore. It’s too complicated, it doesn’t make any sense, and I don’t like it. 

You have to go to the shadows of the plot line. You made yourself a minor character in my life story when you moved and didn’t tell me for three months. You became the lesser character when you moved two more times after that without telling me. With your silence since July after making a production of getting our phone numbers and address your part has become smaller and smaller. With each passing day, week, month, and year you become… well, you become you.

I’ve had the great fortune to have a wonderful woman in my life for thirteen years who gave me the second greatest gift of my life. She gave me the gift of unconditional love. Robbie’s mother passed away the middle of October but she’s left a lasting impression on my life. Actually she made a lasting impression on everyone’s life who was lucky enough to have their path cross with hers. It was never a quick passing either. She was truly interested in whoever she came in contact with and always made sure that she did whatever she could to make their life even just the tiniest bit better. There is no hyperbole in those words either. She truly lived by the words of Christ whether is it was accepting a collect phone call from a stranger in jail to making sure that whoever sat at her kitchen table had more than enough to eat, or just listening to the small details of this boy’s life growing up in small town Indiana. 

Momma Lopez taught me more than anything by her actions that I deserve better. She showed me what a mother’s love really is. She and Robbie’s dad both welcomed me into their home over thirteen years ago without a second thought or one negative question. I really miss her. 

So this year we honor the memory of Robbie's mom with a small garden and possibly a bench. Maybe Robbie will feel a little less of a loss if he has a special place he can sit and talk to her. We also honor the woman who carried our daughter for us and let us become a family. And I remember the woman my mother once was, the woman who took the time to teach me how to hit a baseball, how to cook and in turn feed my family, and also how to change a spark plug. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Coming Out... again

Recently we participated in a parenting panel at the University of Indianapolis which we've been a part of for the past 5 years. The instructor usually has us and another family (who are straight) talk a little about our families, our backgrounds, and then answer questions from the students. There are several questions that we can usually count on hearing every time and one in particular had me thinking more about my answer. That question is always about our coming out stories.

I usually chuckle and ask which time because I did it twice. I came out when I was twenty-one and then slammed the closet door back shut several years later after getting my heart broken over and over. I wanted a relationship - something more than just bed hopping. Unfortunately the times and the guys I met weren't accommodating to what I wanted, what I needed, and I decided that I couldn't take anymore and I would go back to dating women.

The second time was when I was almost thirty-three. After dating either the wrong women, or trying to date the unattainable ones I realized the reason I was picking them was because deep down I knew I wouldn't end up with any of them. And while I was being honest with myself, the reason I didn't want to end up with a woman was because I knew that at some point I would end up cheating with a man and I just couldn't do that to someone. I've had several women friends who have been in those situations and I've seen first hand the anguish they've gone through. I just couldn't be that guy.

But the truth is so much complex than those small episodes. Everyday is a coming out of some sort or another. Whenever I find myself in a new situation I wonder how much of my life I can show. Every time we're introduced to a new group of people I'm wondering how much of our life I can reveal. Most people think it's the formal process of coming out to our families, friends, or coworkers but it really is a continuing process that never ends. It would be nice to not have to act this way but until someone (us) can be open about their love life without fear of judgement or retribution this is the state of our lives - always wondering how much of our lives we can be open about.

Oh, and the second most asked question? That would be "who does her hair?" We pay a professional to keep her hair looking nice. All I can do is simple braid. If I tried to French braid it would look like I used my feet.