This past weekend, I made a quick trip to Vancouver to visit my daughter Hannah, her husband Cary and their little girl, Hazel. Mark was supposed to accompany me, but he had to stay in Salt Lake for a cancer treatment.
I wrote about recent developments in Mark's cancer 10 days ago. A decision was made shortly thereafter to start Mark on a new therapy that, due to timing considerations, would have to start immediately. It would consist of three treatments, spaced two weeks apart, each treatment consisting of two stages. Mark's first stage of the first treatment was scheduled for last Friday and the second stage was scheduled for the following Monday. We had already booked our flights to Vancouver, so a decision was made that I would go alone, then come back a day earlier than planned so that I could be there for Mark's treatment on Monday. I am happy to say that the procedure went very well with no side effects for Mark.
So, my time with my daughter and her family was short, but oh so sweet. I've thought all week about doing a post about my visit. Then, today, I reread something I had written in my journal during the middle of my divorce. It was one of the low points, but so, so illustrative of that whole process - divorce, me coming out, the effects on our family, etc.
My lawyer and I were waiting for the second and final mediation in the divorce which resulted in a final agreement between my ex-wife and me and, in due course, the issuance of a divorce decree. I saw my ex-wife and her attorney come in and sit in the opposite corner of the large lobby. After a few minutes, they walked over toward us.
I had previously expressed to my ex-wife that I thought the personal animus that her homophobic attorney (whom I had dubbed "Mr. Toad," in lieu of another four-letter word that begins with "T" and ends in "D" and rhymes with "bird") had obviously shown toward me was doing her a disservice. So I was surprised, but not too surprised, when he walked up and said (among other things) the following:
"I have been informed that you think I have a personal dislike of you because of your sexual orientation. That is not true. I feel the same way about you as I would if you had taken up with a woman, leaving your wife and ten children after 25 years of marriage."
Slam. Of all the things that were said to me and about me during our divorce process, that was the vilest - and the most improper, especially coming from a member of the bar. And it was a lie. I did not "leave" my marriage to "take up" with a man. I came out to my ex-wife, unexpectedly, when our marriage was on life support, and she asked for a divorce. There was no man with whom I had "taken up."
Nevertheless that characterization was propagated in my situation, and it is also unfortunately the type of assumption to which people (especially those who are LDS) leap when they hear of a married man coming out as gay. I thought about this while running the recent series of posts concerning mixed-orientation marriages.
There were many times during those dark days when I wondered how many of my children I would lose. I knew our family would never be the same again, but I couldn't say back then what shape it would take in the future. I hoped it would get better, but I had no assurances then, other than my faith in my children.
But it did get better. Way better. And my recent trip to Vancouver brought that home to me - again.
|My wonderful son-in-law holding Hazel|
Most of the foregoing pictures (and all the good ones) were taken by Hannah. It's hard for me to express what I felt as I saw them for the first time and what I have continued to feel as I look at them. They captured so much love - in Hannah, in Hazel, in Cary and in me. And, for me ... well, this is particularly difficult to express. For so much of my life, I have had a negative self-image and I believed so many things that other people told me about myself. These pictures, for me, give the lie to those things.
My family continues to evolve as my children evolve. I am grateful for each of them. I love each of them. It got better, and it keeps getting better. I am truly a blessed man.