Here we are again at November 29. A day that shall live in infamy.
In 2002, on November 29, I met Jen in a Yahoo chatroom and it completely changed my life. When I met her I was a pro-life, practicing (occasionally) Episcopalian who was just barely over his homophobia (still on the fence about gay marriage though) and had no idea what to do with this young progressive spitfire who’s first argument with me was over her right to be naked wherever, whenever and with whomever she chose because (ahem) it was her body after all. Life-changing stuff and now she is the mother of my children. And I am the flaming progressive pinko commie secular hedonist my father was afraid I would become as a result of fraternizing with Ducks.
In 2007, on November 29, I got to work in my cubicle at the County and discovered that the hospital where my Mom was recovering from stomach cancer surgery had been trying to reach me. I’d learned a few days before that we would only have three to five months with her. But she aspirated and they needed me to come in right away. I spent most of the day at the hospital and then I said goodbye to her late in the day. The things I remember most: My father — who held no love for the woman — on the phone being very gentle (rare for him) as he reminded me of her wishes regarding life support and said, “Kenneth, I know it’s hard but you need to go ask those doctors if your mother is ever coming back and if not, why is she still on those machines against her wishes?” It was his finest hour in my life. And I remember sitting with Jen and holding her hand as I watched Mom’s heart rate drop to zero over about twenty five minutes after asking them to let her go. When I left the room, Jay was waiting in the lobby in his goofy knit cap and his rainbow knit socks and his sandals. John came down the next day. It was the first time in my life where I had a profound sense of needing my people.
So I always pause on this day and think about how life is made up of greetings and partings and that it’s okay for life to be what life is. It’s been thirteen years since I first said hello to Jen. It’s been eight years since I said goodbye to Mom. The hello’s never lose their shine but the goodbye’s become history with an ache that subsides gently into fact and acceptance over time. Mom was the first in a bunch of goodbyes that followed after and each one of them has marked me and deepened my love for my tribe. But so have the hello’s…especially the hello I said on July 28 when Lizzy and Rae showed up in my life.
Be good to the people you love. Let them be good to you. Love without fear in your heart.