Sunday, May 12, 2013

Unconditional Love

A lot of emotions and thoughts running through my head today. There’s no real way to make sense of them.
My mother’s been gone for 15 years already.
If she had any inkling of who I really was, she kept it to herself.
There was a point, over 20 years where she asked me if I was gay. I denied it. She never asked about the real issue, not that I’d have said it. I couldn’t even admit I was a woman to myself then.
There was a distance between us in the later years, even though we lived in the same town and we talked and saw each other. Religion is a wonderful thing, but for a mother and her then son, it became a wall neither side could get through or over. It was pretty much that way for her and most people.
Faith is one thing. Faith that renders it almost impossible to have a normal conversation is another.

“This weather today is quite lovely, don’t you think?”
“Jesus didn’t think he was lovely when…”

It’s a real reminder when the woman you’re becoming so much resembles the woman who gave birth to you, who raised you for so much of your young life before things changed. Look in the mirror, see yourself while hoping not to see “him.” Then, as you emerge and “he” disappears, you see her. You see not just that woman you know loved you, but the woman who very well would have rejected you.
I hate thinking that, but it’s very, difficult not to.
It’s hard thinking that a woman who couldn’t talk to you without mentioning Jesus, God, the Rapture, etc. would react in any other way but Bible-quoting hate, threats of conversion therapy, rejection, hate and disownment.
But at the same time, it’s hard not to think that, at some point, it would have knocked down those walls. That those maternal instincts would have kicked in. The woman who was always there for the precocious kid, who gave that kid bowl cuts, who worked graveyard shift when the father wasn’t part of the picture. She would have seen the pain in her daughter’s face and done the right thing – loved unconditionally.
I’m torn between guilt for feeling that she wouldn’t have accepted me and sick for knowing that I might be right. Above all, though, is sadness that I’ll never find out.
I can still see mom’s husband’s face, all through the funeral. All he could say for the longest time was drawing out the syllables of her name and no. “Bran….Dy….No….Bran…Dy…..No.” Over and over.  I can still hear it in my head 16 years later.
I could handle, on some level, losing her. We knew it was coming. We’d feared it ever since we knew the local doctors hadn’t caught the initial cancer and it had spread. I’d bawled my eyes out on my bed at some point in between her passing and the funeral.  I was at a functional level, but it was so wrenching to see him like that.
After two failed marriages (the first a bad fit, the second to an abusive piece of human excrement), she’d finally found the right guy for her.
They deserved to grow old together, but that didn’t happen. He lost his true love. The rest of us lost that chance to break down those walls
And yet, I feel lucky. Some people don’t even get the years with their mom that I did.  Some mothers are outright abusive.
I know people whose mothers were fine until they found out their child was trans, which led to hate, cruelty and ways to inflict pain from misgendering to siding with someone else against them and more.
There are also people in the community who don’t get the chance to be maternal figures because a former spouse or partner uses their trans status against them, turning their kids against them or denying them their right to be parents.
I’m also not the only one missing a departed mother…or a departed grandmother, for that matter. I really didn’t get to know my dad’s mother because of the walls between he and I that didn’t come down until after she’d passed.  I never got to know Grandma Betty as an adult, really, let alone get to know her as the real me.
The world’s a lesser place for the departure of a lot of these women, all of your maternal figures who are here no longer.
Of course, some of you have enjoyed mother’s day with your mothers, as a mother or both. That’s good. I hope the day was full of nothing but good things for you.
All of this swirls in my head today.  Thoughts moving from gentle churn to centrifuge speed to anywhere in between.
Right now, all it comes down to is that, somewhere back in time, somewhere in Texas or Colorado, there’s a young girl who wished she could let her mother know she existed, who wanted her mother to give her a hug and let her know she’d be okay.  And at this moment, in apartment in New York City, there is a woman who wants the same thing. Consequences be damned, that’s all she wanted.

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