Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Mama Dragon Project--my initial thoughts

While I love the Mama Dragon Project and the individual accounts, I find it ironic that the format of each story feeds into the stereotypical “perfect Mormon” myth by beginning each account with a Mormon Mommy Resume. Yes, I understand these mothers are trying to establish the fact that they are “devoted” members, but by doing so they seem to insinuate that readers will not find them credible if they didn’t do X, Y, and Z prior to discovering that their child was gay.  It feels as though each storyteller is saying, “I was a near-perfect mother...I served husband was the bishop… I was all-in Mormon” and this still happened to ME.  And if it could happen to someone as devoted as I am, it could happen to YOU.”  I think this highlights one of the cultural imperfections in our membership--that somehow our works, our service, our callings, our payment of tithing...whatever X,Y, or Z might be, will save us from encountering situations or life circumstances that are contrary to the gospel storyline or even church policy.  

To that I can't help but ask: How arrogant are we?

My mother was what I will call a pre-generational Mama Dragon. She quietly faced this challenge some thirty years ago during a time when no one spoke of being gay--at church or anywhere really--unless it was in mockery or in jest. She went to her grave with many unanswered questions, but she never doubted her faith, she never expected the church to change its policies, and she never questioned her love for my sister--a gay Mormon. They were close friends and confidants, attending church together for family ordinances and other special occasions. They didn’t demand that people understand their circumstances because they themselves didn’t have all the answers. All that each of them asked for was love and respect.  And, isn’t that what we all want?  Isn’t that what we all deserve--near-perfect resume or not?

Throughout my life I have watched church policies come and go regarding race, adoption, sexual orientation, and yes, even policies regarding which widows and widowers can or cannot be married for time in the temple. All of these have affected me and people I love dearly, and I feel that these experiences have allowed me to ask tough questions...some of which I am still waiting patiently to understand. However, I have had enough experience to reach the conclusion that God is not homophobic, sexist, or racist (as some have suggested) and neither is the church I belong to. I was taught to love others by imperfect parents and by imperfect people at church (granted, sometimes by their non-examples). I have quietly waited for others to catch the vision of love and acceptance for the LGBT community, but like my mother, demanding that others see things through my paradigm isn’t my style. So...for those who are just now cluing-in to the fact that people say mean things in spite of our basic human need for acceptance, that church policies change on a regular basis (or stay the same) regardless of our circumstances, that our works don’t guarantee us or our children happy lives, and that sometimes we don’t get the answers we want immediately...I say welcome to the party.  We’ve been waiting for you.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Shoes

The video from the link above prompted this piece of writing...

The shoes.

I was okay until I saw the shoes.

Unless you've had the unfortunate experience of walking out of a hospital with nothing but your spouse’s shoes shoved inside one of those pathetic plastic “patient's belongings” bags, I’m not sure you can appreciate the significance of the shoes.

In life, shoes can take on several meanings whether we are walking in someone else’s shoes, waiting for the other shoe to drop, or simply longing for a pair of shoes we hope will alleviate back pain or complement our favorite outfit.

In death, they take on an entirely different meaning.

On the afternoon of August 14, 2015, I walked into my house carrying nothing but Marv’s shoes. When my friend Annette greeted me at the door, I held up the aforementioned bag and said, “This is all that’s left.” In that moment, it was a truth that unintentionally captured the injustice my children and I had witnessed just hours before.

But soon I would realize that the shoes shoved in that bag in no way represented all Marv had left for us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Mom is a rooster, up in the wee dark hours telling everyone to get out of bed and get moving.

Mom is a homemade dress and a tuna fish sandwich--two things the other kids ridicule but secretly admire.

Mom is the judge, the jury, and the lead detective, making tough decisions based on the information offered as well as the information she suspects was withheld.

Mom is the Magic 8 Ball, foreseeing the future and warning of dangers ahead.

Mom is a game of Twenty Questions:  "Where did you go?"  Who all was there?  What did you do?Who drove?  What did you eat?  How much did you spend?"

Mom is a radar detector, a microphone, an enigma decoder: seeing and hearing off-the-grid conversations and "reading" body language better than a private investigator.

Mom is a field of red tulips and pink peonies (pronounced pee-o-neez), blossoming beautifully in the spring, looking forward to an action-packed summer.

Mom is a floppy hat, huge sunglasses, and "Did you get sunscreen on your nose?" at the pool or beach.

Mom is a pat on the back for a job well done and praise withheld in the face of a half-"hearted" effort.

Mom is a warm kitchen that has been open since six, the counter-tops filled with pies, cookies, and the makings of our next hearty meal.

Mom is an unexpected snort in the middle of a laugh, causing contagious giggles that spread through the house.

Mom is a brag letter at Christmas, the champion of all things family, our greatest advocate, our biggest defender, our most vocal fan.

And now, as she observes from beyond, I pray she is nothing less than a watchful angel who wears the robes of satisfaction and contentedness--a woman proud of her posterity.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Demanding Understanding

As someone who has both witnessed and experienced her share of life’s tragedies and emotional bodyslams, I am noticing a trend in “support blogs” that is starting to wear on me. It’s an attitude of I am going through something hard and I DEMAND that you understand my circumstance or How dare you judge me in my difficulty and/or have an opinion about what I’m going through. The bottom line is you can’t stop human nature, and truth be told, very few of us can explain our difficulties in a way that will evoke true empathy in others. Compassion maybe. But seldom do any of us experience the exact same situations in life, so perfect empathy is not even a possibility. Trials are kind of unique that way.

I don’t even expect other widows to understand my journey, and sometimes I get a little uncomfortable when other widows say things like…”you know what it’s like” when really, maybe I don’t. That said, all of my friends (widowed or not) have offered me a great deal of comfort just by hurting with me, crying for me, and honoring the choices I’ve made since Marv’s passing. No one can SAY anything to make my situation better or make my heart stop aching for him, and by the same token, no one can SAY anything that will make being widowed worse!  So why would I waste energy focusing on what people are SAYING about my decisions as so many “support blogs” do? Yes, I knew people would have opinions about everything from my choice to attend church just days after his death, to going back to work just three weeks later, to remarrying just ten months into the grieving process.  And if you don’t think I caught vibes from people about my decision to marry Marv’s brother…(Hello, THAT doesn’t happen every day). what?

The opinions and judgments of others didn’t change my situation, nor did they make my life any harder. In reality, these people were simply giving voice to things I might have thought two years ago: “What are you doing here?” “I could never do that.” “I’ve heard of marriages like this and they never work out.” “You really think Marv would feel that way?” “I’m not ready to remarry; I love my late spouse too much.” Anything negative came from a place of ignorance. Any concern, I hope came from a place of love, and if it didn’t, those people don’t matter so I have since distanced myself from them. It has also come to my attention--not through gossip but moreso intuition from casual conversation--that some didn’t know Marv like they thought (or I wish) they did. And that has to be okay, too. He didn’t have anything to prove in life, and he certainly wouldn’t want me wasting time trying to prove anything about him--or us as a couple--in order to placate others in his death. He wants me to live as happily as I can without him, and yes, I believe he has guided me through all of my decisions in the past year and a half. In order to follow through with these decisions, I couldn’t worry myself with the opinions of others. I shudder to think of the happiness I would have missed out on if I had.

So, to those who are wasting energy on what other people are saying or thinking about their situations, I beg you to focus on healing in your difficulty and stop demanding that other people understand your circumstance. The fact that they can’t does not minimize your trial. In fact, it may give it more credence than you realize.  And if my perspective doesn’t help, go out and find some better friends who know when their opinions are helpful and when they need to keep their freaking mouths shut.

Thank YOU for being one of those friends.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

You Should Have Been Here

You Should Have Been Here
October 2016

Our oldest son said “Yes”
To a beautiful bride on Saturday morning
Within the walls of the Lord’s House.
A perfect day by all accounts,
But you should have been here.

It was a lovely fall day filled with
Forced smiles and flooded eyes
When your baby girl watched the bride
Dance with her daddy,
And wished for only one thing:
That you had been here.

The pictures of our family’s
New dynamic were too much
For our missionary to cherish
Some two thousand miles away.
His anguish yet another reminder
That you should have been here.

Your brother fought back tears
As he stood in photos,
Greeted guests, and offered
Advice to the bride and groom,
Attempting to fill the void we all feel
Because you should have been here.

Even as I contemplate
The beauty of that day,
I sense the patronizing platitudes
Regarding your watchful presence
And ever-attentive eye
As I acknowledge your spirit’s whisper
In my heart.
But still, you should have been here.

Just as you should be here in days ahead
To hear the cheers of happy homecomings,
The playing of Pomp and Circumstance,
The opening shot of the hunt,
The first cries of future grandchildren,
And the laughter of holidays
Spent within the walls of a home
We built for the sake of our kids
Who long for your loving embrace--
All of whom are left wishing for one thing:
That you could be here.

Momma Reb

Today There is Proof
March 4, 2015
Today there is proof
...that goodbyes are never easy but always inevitable.
...that “Family comes first. And if it doesn’t, it should.”
...that the veil is so thin, embraces from beyond
are no longer figurative but literal.
Today there is proof
...that money doesn’t buy happiness; it buys security.
But the security found in family relationships
far outweighs any monetary increase discovered in death.

Today there is proof
...that her devotion to family
was equally proportionate to
the number of photos on display in her home.
(With the exception of the seemingly requisite Christmas tree photo,
"you can never take too many pictures").

Today there is proof
...that grief is exhausting,
...tears build pressure and relieve anguish simultaneously,
And tender mercies mark the path of mourning;  
even those who fumble for the right words,
somehow offer peace.

Today there is proof
...that people are multi-dimensional:
those who are known for being tough
usually have an equal measure of tenderness.
...that only the good die young,
and the dynamic leave a hole more noticeable
than the weak and frail.
...that unselfishness is a way of life that many
mistake for misery.
...that thoughtfulness trumps
syrupy sweetness any day.

Today there is proof
...that our loving mother was welcomed Home.
...that after a life of giving, the bearer now rests.

Monday, November 7, 2016

In the Fall I Feel You

In the fall I feel you--
A hunter’s anticipation in the
Brisk breeze, tousling
My hair like you used to
On our long canyon drives;
In the warm and welcomed
Sunshine that follows a cool
Nature’s morn.
In the fall I hear you
Amid the rustling of leaves--
Those I scatter with
My determined gait,
Those still clinging
To barren trees,
Or those dancing
In between.
In the fall I see you.
All evidence confirming
My belief that you're still here--
Waiting patiently for
Me to look around and
Acknowledge your presence.
Claiming it won’t be long
Before I see you walking toward me
From the obscurity of the trees
That conceal you now,
But certainly not forever.
In the fall I long for you--
The bare, naked branches a
Reminder that winter awaits
Us all...
Nothing to fear
But rather,
Until spring awakens
Us and we reunite
With those who’ve left us
With the whisperings of their love.