Eulogy

“Life is difficult.”

With these three words begin a book called The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck. It is a book that literally has helped me change my life- and the lives of countless others.

Today, especially, these words ring true.

Life is difficult for us- who have to try and make sense out of the pain and frustration and difficulties that he faced almost constantly.

Life is difficult for parents, teachers, family members and friends who may feel as powerless as I have felt this past week.

Life is difficult when pain overcomes all the loving words and gestures of family, of friends of therapist, of rabbis and priests- life is especially difficult then.

But how does this happen? How can we address it?

I wish I knew.

My faith tells me that we are all- all of us doing the best we can from our particular point of consciousness. My heart knows this to be true, but my brain often needs more evidence. It keeps telling me that I failed. Some of your brains may be saying the same thing.

He struggled with depression, gender identity and, quite frankly, with being an adolescent- a difficult enough endeavor without adding on the extra baggage. And I thought things were going okay- not perfectly, but there are wonderful parents here offering support and encouragement, supportive professionals taking an interest in helping, friends who do what friends do- remind us that no matter what it seems like, we are not alone. I hoped- I prayed- that he would be okay. Would come through this process with the perspective of a champion- a champion who addressed each struggle as skillfully as possible and never (or seldom) gave in to fear.

Here’s the problem- I’m always underestimating fear. I’m always underestimating the power that potential futures have of paralyzing, shutting down, creating a reaction instead of inviting a thoughtful response. Fear drives us out of our minds and out of our hearts. It’s a powerful thing. It can take the truth and twist it. It can take love and make it insufficient. Fear can make us question the unquestionable- knowing that there is never a satisfying answer- but still, trying to do SOMETHING.

And for a kid who kept things tightly held, who was a perfectionist, whose beauty was seen by everyone else- but not by the one who most needed it- fear was the final distortion.

He knew it- we talked about it- but there was still a desire to be more than just “good enough”- he wanted to be stunning. And those of us who love him saw that stunning quality. We can still see it.

Life is difficult. This is one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know life is difficult- once we truly understand and accept it- then life is no longer as difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. It’s something everyone has to deal with. It’s not just me. Or you. Or them. It’s us.

Peck ends his book with this:

“The universe, this stepping-stone, has been laid down to prepare the way for us. But we ourselves must step across it, one by one. Through grace we are helped, and through grace we know we are being welcomed. What more can we ask?”

I believe he is being helped, he is being welcomed- and yet most importantly for us today- he is being dearly missed. Because that’s the only way to respond to the loss of beauty in our world.

And how have we failed?

We can’t if we loved.

Steve Daines defends the Sanctity of Marriage- with Charles Manson

Found on the internet:

Steve Daines Defending families….

Steve Daines Defending families….

Today’s Must-Read: Richard Blanco

If you’re haunted sometimes by memories of “gay terror” from your childhood- especially when it involved family- this essay is for you. In reading it, I recognized so much of the familiar and long-past memories of shame and fear that molded me, that sent me- much later- into the world with clearer purpose. I also recognized the stories of clients and friends- and not just gay friends- many of us eventually disappointed or confused the people who raised us….

Excerpt:

At thirty-one, I sit at a candlelit table across from the man who will be my husband. I tell him about my grandmother and the coping mechanisms I developed; how they naturally led me to writing; mechanisms that became part of my very creative process. Becoming withdrawn and introverted, I grew to become an observer of the world, instead of a participant. In order to survive emotionally I learned to read my environment very carefully and then craft appropriate responses that would (hopefully) prevent abuse and ridicule from my grandmother. I explain to my husband-to-be that I am still that quiet, repressed boy whenever I am in a room full of people, trying to be as invisible as possible, but taking in every detail, sensory as well as emotional, that will eventually surface in a poem.

My work is often described as vivid and lush; relatives often marvel at my recollection in my poems of family events and details. Qualities I attribute directly to the skills spawned from my coping with my abuse. But beyond that, I’ve come to understand why writing and me became such a great fit. It allowed me to participate in the world, to feel alive, while remaining an invulnerable observer, safe in my room, at my desk, in my imagination where no one, especially my grandmother, could hurt me.

It’s beautiful and humble and brilliant. Please read the full essay here. And then, in case you missed it, watch Richard Blanco read his lovely poem at the president’s inauguration yesterday.

The Girl Effect

The infographic below was created by the Girl Effect which is a movement about leveraging the unique potential of adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves, their families and the world. It highlights the problem of child marriage which leads to pregnancy and childbirth which can be fatal for young girls- not to mention damaging to a country’s economy.

Infographic_Girl-Effect

 
Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/6-infographics-about-being-a-woman-that-will-make-you-want-to-take-action.html#ixzz2Hrij8zMw

Love Wins!

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Jesse Page, left, and Brendan Taga, exchange wedding vows just after midnight on Sunday, December 9, 2012 at the King County Courthouse in Seattle. Marriage ceremonies were held in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Mary Yu beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, the first day same-sex couples in Washington State can legally be married. Many of the judges donated their time to be at the courthouse to officiate at the weddings. Click pic for more…. Photo: JOSHUA TRUJILLO / SEATTLEPI.COM

The Joys of Parenting

Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to be a father. I even asked for a baby doll for Christmas, much to my parents’ chagrin. However, I actually GOT said baby doll. Her name was Tina! Funny how I can remember that. I took her everywhere around the house with me. Made sure she “ate” and changed her diaper. Mom used to watch me with her and she had decided that I would make a fantastic father, someday.

In church, on Sundays, Mom would often take nursery duty. There weren’t that many infants in those days, but she would bring me with her to “help.” Little did she know that my “help” really WAS help. She used to delight in telling people that little babies/children and dogs really love me. Whenever someone was fussy, into my arms they went. And, they quieted down very quickly.

I spent many years believing that I would, someday, be a father. I got married at 19 partly because of that. Now, never you mind that I had come out at 17 for the first time. My desire to be a parent far outweighed the fact that I am gay. And, I knew that the only way I could ever have children was to be married. This was a direct result of growing up in the church with a minister for a father.

Shortly thereafter, I got divorced. A marriage that lasted 9 months, legally. And, I came out again. All of my hopes of parenthood were dashed and I was preparing myself to never think of children again.

Fast forward some years later. I worked my way out of the “pink haze” and I became an adult. (In maturity vs. age – there is a HUGE difference!) I was spending my time around couples of all genders and sexuality. And, there were children. Who knew?

Again, hope flared. Albeit, briefly. I began to look into adoption, but here in the State of Montana, you are more likely to be able to adopt as a single parent, than as a gay couple. Hopes dashed again.

I met a young man at the theatre where I do some music direction and acting. He was a foster kid and really was one of societies throw-aways. He had been in the foster care system since he was 4 years old and was fast approaching 17. We struck up a friendship and then became a bit closer. I was a mentor to him. Eventually, he started calling me, “Dad.” And a family was born.

Fast forward just a few months later. Around the same time I met the young man, I met a single mother with a wonderful daughter. Come to find out, they were our neighbors across the street. We had only just moved in. Well, my partner and I used to spend a lot of time sitting on the front porch. Very late one evening, we send a text to “Mom” saying, “Kid is home. Isn’t she a bit late?” From that, became a surrogate parenthood of a teenage daughter. As a matter of fact, while I sit here writing this, she is staying at our house while her mother is out of town and I am fretting like any other parent because I am waiting for her to come home, the snow is starting to come down and she just got her driver’s license this summer. . .I digress.

Anyway, I read an article that gave me even more hope. Read it here: Foster Parenting

It would appear that in Los Angeles, they are trying to court LGBT couples to become foster parents! Something that we might consider in Montana. Think about it. . .so many children need stable homes. And, how many of us have had the desire to become parents, but lack the funds to adopt or have surrogacy, etc? (By the way, adopting from the foster care system is usually subsidized BY the foster care system! Or at least the costs are greatly reduced.)

So, my point in all of this is, “FAMILY” is defined many ways. There are many opportunities for us to become parents. There are many ways to help children out there. And, there are times for us to be positive role models to young people.

Newest Ad For WA Marriage Equality