Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Reflections

Family picture taken this past Saturday by Katrina B. Anderson

I wasn't going to write about "what I'm grateful for." This has always seemed a bit cliche to me. Like New Year Resolutions. But as I sat down to write in my journal this morning, I decided that it would be appropriate to reflect on what has happened during the past year. And I'm glad I did. I learned some things.

View of Granby, Colorado this morning from our hotel room. It was 9 degrees at the time this was taken.

My Personal Growth

This time a year ago, I wasn't, in a number of important ways, in a very good place. Frankly, I was in a dark place of depression. The recent Circling the Wagons conference (for LGBT members of the Mormon community and their families and friends) had been surrounded by controversy and negativity that had deeply effected me. 

I was floundering professionally, trying to determine whether I should simply give up on the practice of law or go into a different line of work. Eighteen months of unemployment had taken their toll. My personal finances had continued to deteriorate.

I was also floundering emotionally. Phantoms from my abusive childhood haunted me. I broke down completely over Thanksgiving weekend last year. Dark thoughts seemed to swirl around me.

For quite some time, I hadn't thought about that time in my life a year ago. It was a revelation to me this morning as I sat down to write in my journal how far I have come over the past year. A big turning point came last December as I met with my counselor and, together, we faced some hard things. 

I realized that I needed to leave behind my lingering associations with all things Mormon. It was simply too painful - on numerous levels - and it certainly wasn't healthy. It was also at this point that I surrendered to certain other realities in my life and gave up the suffering I was incurring because I had tried to pretend and act like those realities weren't there or could be changed. As Eckart Tolle has written, what one resists, persists. Others have put it this way: Let go or be dragged. I let go.

Today, I am in a very different place emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. And I'm very grateful for that. I'm grateful for all the growth I have experienced over the past year. I'm grateful that ghosts from my childhood no longer haunt me. I'm grateful that I feel more in touch with myself than I ever have. I'm grateful to be on a spiritual path that I feel originates from within, rather than being imposed from without; a path that I feel is nourishing and healing me.

For all of this, I am grateful.

My Children

Much wonderful and good has happened this past year with respect to my children. A beautiful baby girl has come into the lives of my daughter Hannah and her husband, Cary. As a result, Hannah has experienced much growth and wonder this past year. I'm grateful for this growth, grateful that Hannah and I are as close as we are, grateful for the things we have shared with and taught each other, grateful for the good health and material well-being that Hannah, Cary and Nutella enjoy.

I'm also exceedingly grateful that my daughter Rachel has come back into my life, and I into hers. Her absence, as well as that of two of my other children, had left a huge hole in my heart. There has been much healing and growth that has come from pain, and I'm so grateful that Rachel and I are now  probably closer than we've ever been, that she has been able to spread her wings and enjoy freedom and happiness in Philadelphia, and that Mark and I were able to visit her a few weeks ago. 

Rachel at Brandywine Museum a few weeks ago

I also grateful for the growth that others of my older children have experienced over the past year. Seeing and hearing of this growth has given me hope that they are, each in their own way and in their own time, dealing with the trauma that has shaken and hurt each one of them over the past several years - and that they are emerging as stronger, more healthy, more whole individuals. 

I am also grateful for the love I feel for each one of them and for the love that I feel from them, and the knowledge that I have that such love can never be taken for granted; and in this regard, I remain thankful for the hope that remains kindled that the day will come when a reconciliation will occur with my two children from whom I remain estranged. 

Of course, I am grateful for the Quads and for Nathan and for all that we have been able to experience over the past year. I'm particularly grateful for the Disneyland trip that Mark and I made with Aaron, Esther and Levi in June. And for the trip that we make with Nathan in July to Maui to attend the Koepke family reunion.

Nathan with "Grandma Koepke" on the beach in Maui


I am grateful for every day that I have with Mark. Almost eight months ago, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The prognosis at that time looked very grim. I am grateful beyond words to express that his hormone therapy is working, that he remains healthy, vigorous and strong and that we have been able to create many lasting memories over the past months. 

Though I cannot say I am grateful that he has cancer, I can say that that I am grateful for some of the blessings that have come into our lives as a result of the cancer. I am grateful for the more profound love that has grown between us and for the way in which we have grown, together. I am grateful for the way Mark has drawn closer to his family and they to him and the way in which I have been drawn more intimately into that family.

I am thankful for our commitment ceremony in August. For the love that was so powerfully felt there. For the fact that eight of my children chose to be there. It was a night I will never forget. I am truly grateful to Mark, to my angel sister Martha and her husband Koen, to my children, to Mark's family members and to all of our friends who were there to add their energy, love and light to that marvelous evening.

And I am grateful that, as a result of the Supreme Court ruling in June, that Mark and I can look forward to getting legally married next year and that we can (at least at the federal level) enjoy all the same benefits and status and recognition that straight couples enjoy.

Every Day

Lastly, I am grateful that I am grateful. I am thankful that I do not take life for granted. That I know that each day is precious. That each day brings opportunities and blessings. For much of my life, I couldn't truly say these things (a reflection of my own issues). Now, I can. And I am grateful. I am grateful for all the love and light in my life. I am truly blessed.


  1. I love you so much, Dad. I'm more grateful than ever that you are my dad and for our relationship! Your love and support has been a constant in a time of huge, and at times, difficult, change in my life. One of the things that I'm most grateful for this year is that I know you are genuinely happy. I hope you and Mark are having a wonderful Thanksgiving. XXOO

  2. Oh and I LOVE that family picture at the beginning of this post. So perfect. Would you email it to me so I can make a print of it?

  3. I love the last picture of you. Happy to see that glow.