before you have a baby

I’m not a parent. And I have no plans of ever becoming one. But that doesn’t mean I don’t understand the concept.

And I have one question for those considering bringing another living, breathing, tiny human into this world: Will you love it?

You could have a boy. Or you could have a girl. He could be short. She could be tall. Attractive or homely. Smart or slow. Quick-tempered or easy-going. You could have a child who’s mentally handicapped. Who suffers from anxiety. Or multiple personalities. You could have a child who is blind. Or deaf. Your child could be gifted. A prodigy. A genius. You could have a boy who likes boys. A girl who likes girls. A boy who wants to be a girl. You could have a child born with no clear gender at all. You could have a child born with extra toes. Or one eye. Or no hair. Or terrible, incurable diseases. You could have a great athlete. A talented artist. A beauty queen. Your child could be perfect in your eyes.

Or they could be anything but.

And you have to think for a moment before creating that new person: Will you love it?

Now I don’t mean: Will you raise it. Teach the child right from wrong. Impart your beliefs, your prejudices, your religion. Rearing up an immaculate version of yourself who thinks the way you do, makes the same choices you do, never disappoints you. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about what happens when your freckled-face 13-year-old tells you he’s known he was gay since before he knew he was supposed to be straight. I’m talking about what happens when your all-star quarterback wants to go into theater. Or your Bible-school daughter wants to pursue Islam or Buddhism or atheism.

What do you do then? Will you love them?

Will you say Go on; explore the depths of your own soul. Find what makes you feel most honest, most joyful, most true. 

Or do you call them a disgrace and declare they are no longer welcome under your roof. Do you blame them for making these “choices.” Choices like seeds planted in their souls. Choices that have been growing in them and with them and because of them. Choices that are tucked into the farthest corners of their being. Choices they have no choice in.

Will you love them?

There are no qualifiers for being a parent. But maybe there should be just this one: Unconditional love.

If you are not capable of it, I ask that you think hard before having a baby.

Because we all deserve to be loved.

No matter who we are.

 

revelations in grief

“You just don’t ever get over it.”

I guess that’s something I needed to hear.

Because each day the sun rises and pulls me gently from a dream, leaving your laughter echoing in my ears, only to rediscover that you’re gone, I know I’m not over it. And each day I creep along the Don Holt Bridge in rush-hour traffic, looking out my window at the diamonds blinking on the water below, and pick up my phone to call you and tell you about my day, I know I’m not over it. And as my mind races while I try to get some sleep, and when I forget to put sugar in my homemade oatmeal, and when I want so desperately to write about anything else, but the blank pages just stare back wanting only to hold more memories of you, I know I’m not over it.

No more than I was the day I let you go.

So when I heard those words – “You just don’t ever get over it” – my heart let out a heavy sigh. A burden I didn’t even know I carried, lifted from my shoulders.

For the rest of my life, my eyes may well with tears when I see a proud mother embracing her child. My throat may tighten like I swallowed a tennis ball every time I hear the singing of a choir. And our final moments together may always be the last thing I think of before I fall asleep.

And that’s okay. Because some things you don’t ever get over.

And now that I know, I can stop trying, stop hoping, stop waiting. For peace and normalcy and comfort that will simply never come.

You’re gone.

I’m not over it.

And I never will be.

My sweet mom, May 2013.
My sweet mom, May 2013.

how to say goodbye

Saying goodbye. It may be the hardest thing we ever have to do. Relationships end. Jobs end. Lives end. Love ends. We practice it our whole lives through. Yet it never gets any easier to say goodbye.

In high school we did it right. With yearbooks that gave us the opportunity to say the things we’d been too shy to admit. To confess to crushes we’d held onto secretly for years. To give the highest compliments and make promises to stay friends forever and keep in touch and never forget. Then we put on matching caps and gowns and go out ceremoniously, with nothing but exuberance and high expectation.

Why can’t all goodbyes be so uplifting? On the verge of the end, why can’t we just exchange notebooks, and write down how we feel. Give the notebooks back and walk away.

You were great and I was great and we were great together. But you changed and I changed and we changed. Now we’re not so great anymore. We’re holding each other back from being great. I think it’s time we both find greatness again.

Seems like a nice way to go if you ask me.

Instead we draw out the goodbyes. Ripping off the bandage over hours and days and weeks and years. We don’t know how to let go. So we hold on like an anchor that doesn’t quite understand its purpose.

Saying goodbye requires a few things. It requires forgiveness. Of all wrongdoings. All past transgressions. It cannot start with here are all the reasons I’m saying goodbye. It has to start with here are all the reasons I’ve stayed for so long, but now it’s time for me to go.

It requires honesty. With yourself and with your words. No sugar-coating, but no brutality either.

We’ve grown apart. Drifted far away. I think I’m not as happy as I could be. And I think, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize you’re not as happy either. You’ll probably agree our best days are behind us; it’s time to move on.

And lastly, goodbyes require forward perspective. It’s not about the past. It’s not even about the present. And it’s not about the next few weeks or months which will likely be difficult and scary and sometimes sad. It’s about the future. The distant glow of a life you ought to be living, a life you could be living, a life that begins when another one ends. A life that starts with a goodbye.