Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful for Love

I have so much I am grateful for this Thanksgiving. As I have thought about all the richness I have in my life, it occurs to me that all of it boils down to one thing: love. 

I am so very grateful for each one of my children. I love them for who they are, for their vibrancy, their tenacity, their independent minds and for their kind and gentle hearts. I am grateful that they are each finding their way in life, that they are healthy and that they are safe. 

Most of all, I am grateful for their love for me and for the love that I have found with and in them during these past five years since coming out. Leaving the world of Mormon fatherhood was a bit scary because I left behind all the checklists that defined a "good father." I had to find my own way, relying only on instinct. In this journey, I was guided by a very wise counselor who admonished me, "Just love them. Forget everything else and don't be afraid. Just love them. And love yourself and believe that you are the good person you are. You can do this. Just love them." And so I have.

I am also grateful for friends.

Friendship is perhaps something a lot of people take for granted, but I - who lived so much of my life without it - do not. This year, I am grateful for the love that has come into my life as I have associated with older friends and made new ones this past year. They, seemingly effortlessly, enrich my life immeasurably. For so many, many years, I didn't really have any friends. Now, I am blessed, and I am grateful.

I am grateful for the friends who help me accept the beauty and love inside of me, who have helped me to love myself so that I may more freely love others. In this regard, I am grateful for the friend (and "back-up mother") who warmed my heart with these words: "What I really want to say on Thanksgiving is how very thankful I am that you found your way, to yourself and to Mark and ultimately into my world so I can be exposed to your fabulous mind, spectacular writing, and generous affection."

I am grateful for the friend who reached out and blessed me with these words as I shared my grief: "Friendship means everything…the fun & frivolous, the dull and mundane, and the difficult and unspeakable." 

I am grateful to friends who have opened their hearts and their homes. I am grateful for all those who continue to teach me about love and how to love.

And, of course, I am grateful for the love that Mark and I share. 

I know that, someday, as I prepare to leave this life, I will count as one of my richest blessings the opportunity I have had to know and love Mark Koepke. As I sit here, I am again reminded of something my wise counselor once told me several years ago as I confided with her my career angst, caught in the notion that my work defined me and validated me and provided my life with purpose and worth. "Do you know," she asked, "how fortunate you are? Look at you. Look at your life. You have lived most of it not knowing true love or knowing the love that you carry gently inside you. You now have the opportunity to truly learn about love and how to love. You have been given the opportunity of a lifetime. This is where your life has brought you. Rest in that. Hold to that. Be in that."

And so I have.

And I am grateful.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Joseph. I thank the Universe that has given me the chance to know you even if it's virtually. Life is good.

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  3. Thank you, Evangeline. Belated wishes of the same to you. :-)