Monday, March 19, 2012

The day I will never forget.

One day when I was a junior in high school, my cousin's now ex-wife (I'll call her J.) picked me up from school and took me to their house so I could help her bleach her hair with a home kit. They lived in a cul-de-sac, and as we rounded the corner, we saw police cars everywhere, right in front of her house and the house next door. She pulled into her driveway, we got out of her car, and immediately were met by a police officer who asked what we were doing. She pointed to her house, said she lived there, and asked what happened. The officer replied that there had been a death next door.

J. freaked, of course. A family lived there, with high-school-aged kids. She asked, in a panic, if she needed to worry about a murderer hiding in her house or something. The cop reluctantly told her that no, she didn't need to worry, the death was the result of a suicide.

J. of course asked who? WHO? Still reluctant, the cop, who - as a random side note - was the father of a girl in my high school class, answered, "The girl, the daughter."

I had no idea who this family was. J. obviously did. She staggered, weakly asked what we needed to do. The officer told her to stay out of her side yard, the one that was between the two houses, because the bullet had exited the window facing the yard and they still needed to find it.

The bullet. This girl shot herself. J. was absolutely devastated. In shock, she told me how this girl, I'll call her A., had brought them home-baked cookies when they moved in. J. said she was sweet. She was, I think, two grades younger than me, and we apparently went to the same high school, which was just big enough for everyone to not know who everyone was. She had two older brothers. We went into the house and proceeded to glue ourselves to the front room windows that overlooked not only A.'s house to the right, but also the rest of the cul-de-sac and part of the entrance to it to the left, in true gawker fashion.

Taking everything in, J. noticed that none of the family's cars were there. We realized that the suicide had literally just happened. It later came out that a grandparent and stepfather were home, she shot herself in her room, so they obviously heard the shot and the police were summoned.

I don't remember how much time passed before J. suddenly stiffened and said, "Oh no, there's the brother's car." A bright yellow Geo Storm pulled into the cul-de-sac, and we watched a boy about my age get out of his car and stare, completely bewildered, at the police presence at his house. The police came to him and told him what happened. I got to watch this kid's reaction to the news that his sister was dead of an apparent suicide. He had friends in his car. He flipped the fuck out. His reaction was rage. He howled, threw stuff, kicked his car, raged around the yard, kicked the fence. Pure anguish. It was awful.

I don't remember how much more time passed, but J. stiffened again, a look on her face of absolute horror. She shakily pointed to the left, the entrance of the cul-de-sac, and said in a very hollow voice, "There's the mom." I snapped my head to the left and saw this woman, who I had never seen before, getting out of her white car to grab the mail out of the metal mailbox units at the start of the cul-de-sac. By her actions, it was obvious she had no idea that her life was about to shatter.

Have you ever watched someone just prior to their life shattering? Watched them while knowing that their life is about to crumble down around them?

I have. In horror, I watched this woman, knowing with the sickest feeling in my gut that she was literally doing the very last action of her life as she knows it - collecting her mail. My reverie was broken by the shouts of the son, who was still outside. He was screaming at her to get home. "Mom! Get home NOW! Mom!" As she reached into her mailbox, she looked over, took in the police cars, her screaming son, jumped into her car, and tore into the cul-de-sac. She parked as close as she could, got out of the car. The son was still screaming, and her husband (the stepfather) was running out of the house to meet her.

She was wearing black. She had blond hair. Her husband told her that her daughter was dead and she fucking crumbled. She started screaming, this anguished scream that only a human whose soul has broken can make, while bending over at the waist and reaching up her arms to pull her blond hair. Her husband grabbed her and tried to hold her while she screamed and screamed and screamed and pulled her hair. She could not stand up straight. Then, she broke free of her husband and stumbled, bent at the waist, around the yard, pulling her hair and screaming.

I will never forget that sight. It is the worst thing I have ever witnessed. As I write this, I see it in my mind like it happened recently, even though it was actually half of my life ago.

I witnessed, in utter horror, a mother's soul die, her heart shatter, her spirit break. I was in shock for about a week, in this dissociative state, trying to process the horror of it all. I was a young, innocent, very impressionable high-school girl. After the shock wore off, I remember feeling very angry. I was angry at A. for having put her family through that pure, horrifying anguish. And all I could think about was why? WHY did this young girl feel that her only way out was death? WHAT could possibly be so wrong in her life that she would rather not live?

I don't know how long afterward it was that my one-grade-younger best friend told me that there was word on the street, coming from A.'s friends, about why she had killed herself. Weeks, months, I'm not sure. What I remember is this:

Apparently, A. was gay. And because of this, she was tormented. You want to know by whom?

Her family. Her own brothers. My friend told me that A.'s friends were coming out and saying that her brothers were abusive towards her because of her sexual orientation; they verbally taunted her, called her names, and even hit her while calling her a dyke.

And this young girl felt so alone and so rejected, by her own family, that she took the only way out that she knew. She killed herself.

Being the typical high school kid, I felt the impact of this but didn't know how to process it. I remember feeling surprised that her being a "dyke" was something that anyone thought was a big deal. And life, life, carried on, but I did not forget what I saw. I did not forget. I will never forget.

Fast forward to the present day. I have children of my own. I am a mother. I wear my heart outside of my body, in the form of three little boys. Motherhood has challenged me in ways I never thought possible. Some days, being a mother is the hardest thing in the world on me. But there is one thing that I can say with absolute confidence, that is the core of my being, that nobody could ever shake from me.

I love those three boys more than anything, and I do NOT care if any of them are gay.

See, I didn't realize it then, but I know now that my ability to care whether or not someone is gay died, along with an anguished young girl, that day. If it was even in me to care in the first place. The absolute horror that I witnessed is something that I never want to experience again, and I, in this present day as a mother, am filled with exploding fury that some little girl killed herself because she was tormented because she was gay. That she felt that she would rather be dead than live the life of a gay person who was rejected by her family.

FUCK. THAT. What an absolute waste. An absolute, senseless waste.

Anyone who personally knows me has heard me say that I am fully expecting to have a son-in-law someday. Even though I only have boys, I am aware that I may still have a son-in-law. And, like I just said, I could not care less. One of my sons loves all things girl. He is the creative, right-brained one, and I can count on him to chose pink over blue, parade around in my high heels, put flowers behind his ears, and appreciate the beauty in the world, right before he thumps his brother over the head and absolutely annihilates a toy. He's also "all boy" and I can count on him to be a destructive, brutal force, all with that flower behind his ear. Whether or not this means he's going to be gay remains entirely up in the air because he's far too young for anyone to be making that determination, nor am I really concerned about it. Nor do I want anybody else to be, either.

Because who really cares? WHY does anyone care what two consenting human adults do together? Why? What does it matter to anyone? I've heard the argument, from people I love very deeply, no less, that the gays are going to "Make my kid gay." 

Wow! Solely because someone is gay, they have the power to actually turn other people gay?!?!

Seriously, I had no idea that gay people are so influential. I must start wearing my tinfoil hat to ward off their Jedi mind warp signals. I'll also start wearing it around people of differing religions, political beliefs, and morals, lest they are secretly as influential as gays.

Snark aside, I look at my boys and I know this critical thing: They are safe with me. They can be whoever they want to be, they can do whatever they want to do with their lives, barring the victimization of other people, and I am going to love them, support them, and never turn my back on them. I need them to know that they can be gay, straight, or anything in between, and they are going to have their mother's love. Full force.

I do not want to bury my sons. I do not want to be A.'s mom, coming home from a regular day to find that my life has shattered, that my child has chosen to no longer live, especially over something as unimportant and irrelevant as sexual orientation.

A couple of years later, at my friend's high school graduation, I saw A.'s family. Her mom was a shell, a zombie. She had aged physically about 25 years. I watched her, my gut twisting with the memories and emotions of that awful, horrid day. I wanted to go up to her and tell her that I was there that day, that I saw her, and that my heart had broken for her. That my heart was still broken for her daughter. That I don't want her daughter's death to be in vain. 

But I didn't go up to her. I was terrified to approach her, to bring up the worst day of her life. 

Eighteen years later, my heart is still broken for that little girl, and I still don't want her death to be in vain. I see the tide turning, the efforts to legalize gay marriage, the awareness, the fight against hate, and it makes me euphoric inside. 

It's about acceptance, people. It's about not worrying so much about what other people, whether you know them or not, do with their personal lives. It's about a little girl who shouldn't have died, and about all the other souls who have been taunted, beaten, rejected, murdered, and committed suicide because of their sexual orientation. It's about your sons and daughters, everyone in your family, your friends.  

The hate needs to stop.


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27 comments:

  1. Agreed...and well said! Bullying and hate needs to get the fuck out of here! Im confident that your boys will not be anything like those brothers! In fact Im 147% confident! :) Love you and thankx for sharing!

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    1. Yes, Mollie! I'll go crazy mommy ape shit on my boys if they do crap like that! Love you, too, can't wait until you are here for GOOD!!!

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    2. I love you Elizabeth! Joshua's favorite color is still purple, and he loves to dress up in costumes, and sing loudly broadway style. He is also pure boy in that he loves villains, and starwars. But people have looked at us funny when we let him dress up in heels for his villain cosutmes, and think it's weird that he doesn't like baseball. He loves art, and music, song, and life. Thank you so much xo K

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    3. K, Josh is an amazing little guy, with an amazing mom! I love you, too!

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  2. Wow, that really blows me away! Of course, you know I support the gay community 100000%. Over 75% of my friends are gay and they are the most loving, caring, supportive, wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of having in my life. I cannot even imagine what that family went through and I feel for them. I am glad we share the same views on this subject, I love ya sis!!!

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  3. we say all the time, "if the worst thing that ever happens in our life is that one or both of our kids are gay, we have got it made."

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    1. I keep liking you more and more, ILBAB!! Perfect perspective. Perfect.

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  4. You made me cry :(
    But what a moving post. You are spot on... such a waste.

    Glad you are raising your boys to not be assholes. That's awesome.

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  5. Thanks for this post. I don't usually read parenting blogs. They're usually full of far too much "glurge" for me; packed with stories of "Mommy's little miracles" whose latest swim meet triumph I am destined never to care about.

    I'm not sure how I stumbled upon yours, nor why I decided to read it but I'm glad I did. I'm about to become a father for the first time and you hit a raw nerve. I don't care whether I one day gain a son or a daughter in law; whether I share a glass of rosé or beer with them. I just want my daughter to be happy and secure in her identity. Whatever that is.

    As long as she doesn't bring home a tee-totaller. That could be a problem. ;)

    Ah, on second thoughts even that doesn't matter. They'll turn to drink within five minutes of meeting the rest of the family anyway.

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    1. SiD,
      Thank you so much for your comment! I'd like to think that this is definitely not a blog full of glurge... I'm more apt to point out the disgusting and embarrassing things my kids do. But I am glad you read it, too, and that you have such a healthy perspective on your child. Which, very big congratulations there, by the way! I can tell she is already off to a good start, having a dad who is capable of and willing to support her.

      Thanks for the laugh, too, on the tee-totaller and turning to drink comments! I definitely understand how family can turn one to drink. But those are the more fun families, in my opinion! ;-)

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  6. Ah shucks, thanks for the kid words. Let's hope you're right. 3 weeks to go 'til we find out! If she's on time, which she will be if she takes after her mother. If she takes after anyone else in either family then...

    Absolutely they're the fun families! That's exactly what I meant.

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    1. I hope for mama's sake that baby girl is on time and not late. I really do! Wow, so soon, congratulations! I wish you two a very smooth labor and delivery and a healthy baby girl!

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    2. So if you ever check back here, how is life as a new father?! Congratulations to you, your wife, and brand new baby girl! Welcome to the world, baby SiD, and welcome to parenthood, SiD and Mom!

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    3. Hi,

      Amelie Joyce was born yesterday morning at 10:54 after a brief and uncomplicated labour, making her almost exactly 36 hours old as I type and about 1 week late, which is what I was apparently. I'm not sure we could have wished for a smoother labour. Mummy got exactly what she wanted, no drugs, no interventions bar a little assist after the main event, nice and mobile and calm and quiet. She lay on her side on a bean bag as she delivered and I held her in the "big spoon" position. A lovely experience. Not bad for a first timer. Fatherhood so far is a doddle but I have my amazing wife to thank for that.

      Mum and baby girl are both doing wonderfully well and are asleep in the sitting room right now. You were always on my list of people to inform, so thanks for keeping us in your thoughts. Who knows? You may be seeing more of us round here in the future.

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    4. Wow, congratulations to all three of you! What a beautiful story, and Amelie is a beautiful name. I'm so happy it went so well.
      Thank you so much for letting me know! I do hope to see more of you around here in the future!

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  7. I am a young teen and.my own mother,brother,and sisters call me gay.i am completely lost and I get sad and depressed.i dont get it how your own famliy could hurt u like this.i hate my life cuz of this and I hav no one to help me and im a girl who really likes boys but I nevea knew why people always called me that.i kno if I kill myself I wont make it to heaven but I cant take this everyday.and im sorry for this poor young girl and see how she feels cuz I feel it too.u feel alone and lik no one cares but the only people who really care bout me are my grand parents who are far away from me also god.i also hope god blesses this famliy

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    1. I'm so very sorry that you are suffering. Please don't kill yourself because your life will get better. You are so young and have your whole life ahead of you, you really, really do. Please find somebody supportive that you can talk to, whether it's someone from your church or school. There is always support. ALWAYS. There is also a national suicide prevention hotline that you can call, the number is 1-800-273-8255.
      Hang in there. Don't let other people rob you of your life. People DO care about you. Let me know that you are okay.

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    2. Thank u so very much for caring.

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    3. Of course. It will get better. Hang in there and find someone who you feel supported by. You will not always feel like this!

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    4. I wanted to thank u again and wanted to let u know I am doin alright now and I prayed for myself and many others who have had this problem. u were a big help.thank u and god bless u

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    5. That's so good to hear! You are very welcome. Hang in there.

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    6. If you haven't looked yet, check out the YouTube It Gets Better project
      (http://www.youtube.com/user/itgetsbetterproject)
      It does get better. Hang in there!

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    7. Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing! I had seen it a while back and totally forgot about it. It is a great one and definitely should be checked out.

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    8. people at my school also called me a lesbian and pick on me cuz I liked to be happy but I just started high school and it is great but I dont want to speak too soon.i have also cheaked out some of the it gets better videos and it inspires me to keep the faith even though I do still have those horrible memories I wil always pray and have hope for me and those others who suffer .i know I will never ever go with a girl and like boys and I have to remind my self.i will always thank u for your advice. Thank u again

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    9. Glad to hear that high school is going great and that you are doing well, too!
      You are very welcome. Happy to help.

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