Broken Hearted

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I would never be so insolent as to even suggest that I have any notion how the parents of the Newtown children left dead by an assassin are feeling.  It is unfathomable to me to even consider the depths of sadness, anger and disbelief which are inherent when a parent is forced to do the unthinkable and bury a child.  The emptiness which can never be sated is truly unimaginable.  It is unnatural and horrifying.

I have not had to purchase a child-sized casket.  Nor have I had to sit with clergy to discuss plans surrounding a funeral service for a person I have been attached to from the second they arrived in the world and have come to know better than the back of my own hand.  I have, however, lost a child in a different way.

I lost a son and, if we are being honest, the pain associated with that loss is greater than I have probably let on.  He was a delicious, gorgeous baby with bright blue eyes and an impish quality which, while frenetic and tiresome, was also rapturous.   People would stop me on the street to comment on his bright blue eyes, his crazy blond curls or his high-pitched squeals.  Wherever we went, upon leaving everyone would call out a “goodbye, Georgie” due partly to the joy of his leaving (he was loud!) and partly out of adoration for his huge personality.  He was known the world over (okay, just the town) for his unique, hysterically funny and captivating personality.  A legend is his own time.  And then, with only slightly more warning than the horrors of Newtown, he was gone.

In the days since the attack on the Sandy Hook community I have been obsessively thinking about loss.  About how quickly the world can (and will) change.  About how lucky I am to still have my child, albeit in a different package.  I’ve been acutely aware of the increased, unexplained slip-ups in my choice of pronouns and my calling her “dude” and not “doll”.  I want to reach out and hold onto the child that I loved and lost last year.  I wonder, given the pain I (along with the rest of the world) am struggling with these past few days, how the parents of the babies (and they were just babies) that they dropped at school on Friday morning then headed off to the gym, or work or home to do laundry or clean up the mess those same babies had left behind are ever going to be able to face another day.  The void is incomprehensible.

I still have my baby.  No, she doesn’t have the name that I gave her.  No, she doesn’t wear the clothes that I lovingly packed away when her older brother outgrew them, knowing that because their birthdays are so close together, they could potentially be the same approximate size during the same approximate season.  The curls are long gone and her bright blues have faded to a green like my father’s.  Her presentation is different, but I still have my baby.  When I am at a low, and mourning George’s having faded away, I remind myself of how fortunate I am to have her under my roof, eating my food, trashing my family room and continually expecting me to get up and make her breakfast before she heads off to school.

Unnervingly, the horrors of the Newtown massacre have forced me (and maybe you, too) to work a little bit harder to treasure every moment and to reassess that which pushes us to the edge.  During those times when I feel that I am at my limit, can no longer take another moment of the ambiguity and struggle, I try to remind myself how lucky I actually am.

Being a parent is hard.  Losing a child is harder.  My heart is broken for these families.  I have not buried a child, but I know the pain of losing one in a different way.  The pain they are facing cannot be compared to my own.  Knowing that, my heart is broken further.

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17 thoughts on “Broken Hearted

  1. I can’t imagine my yummy boys not being my boys anymore. I can’t imagine any further than that so I was stay with the musing about how I might feel in your shoes. I adored George and all his loud business and I adore Jessie for different reasons and similar ones. I adore you for your honesty and for mothering both beautiful children!

  2. Julie, as a wife to a transgendered woman, I have been following your blog for a few months now (but never commented til now). Your posts are always so “right on.” I have had to grieve the loss of my husband, but I think grieving the loss of a child through gender identity would in many ways be harder. Praise the Lord that we have not had to grieve as the Newtown parents will, but we do and will grieve nonetheless. Thank you for your poignant observations.

  3. When we love – truly and unconditionally, we do so like there is nothing to lose. When we lose a loved one, in whatever way, the love endures. It is a heart to heart, spirit to spirit relationship that is so much more powerful than the physical. We often don’t recognize (or fully appreciate) this until we have suffered the physical loss. It’s sad that we sometimes need to learn of the tragedies experienced by others to remind ourselves of this.

    As a transgender woman and a parent, I am all-too aware of the loss I see with my daughter. Because she feels that she’s lost her father, I fight desperately to hang on to whatever relationship I can salvage with her. I won’t lose her, though, because I love her so much. I know that she loves me, as well. This “transgender thing” (for lack of a better description) comes with so many conditions, though, and so, it seems, can the love. Damn the conditions!

    Julie, once again I must tell you that you give me hope. Being transgender is hard; being the parent (or child, or spouse) of one has got to be even harder. It’s the love that keeps it from being impossible.

    xo, Connie

  4. I will keep this light…Ok,no hand me down boy clothes going to Jessie..donate them to GW or SA!Sorry you washed and folded em years ago,doesn’t matter now! You have an adventurous girl you have been gifted with.She is taking you on an adventure you would never have otherwise! You only thought that you had a handle on the “raising a son “deal and that blew up on you!Now you have a fresh adventure to be a part of! Some of us married T minded people view ourselves as adventurists as well,some to a different degree than others.I don’t see”it as losing” a son,husband,daughter,etc to a gender identity issue the same as real loss as in death.People have a right to change and others can embrace those changes,or not.But in the case of families,it is far better to accept and embrace the new identity,as we are just expressing our true inner self,and at least we are NOW honest about doing it. On the very sad note,as a parent,we take our daughter to school and just “assume” that is the “safe haven” for 6 hours. It is perplexing as to what in the world has changed that cause these” sicko”s to act out their rage with a weapon on innocent people.Seems like violence of this type is on the rise..why? So sad what has happened in Newtown and Portland Oregon.

  5. Julie, Thank you so much, I am truly grateful to you for sharing your journey having a Trans Child. As a spouse of a Transgender, the last 9 months have been a roller coaster of emotions including loss. When Friday happened in Newtown I was struggling through the day and felt so guilty b/c I was hurting for my own reasons, yet grateful to still have my best friend here on earth to reach out to. I sincerely beleive that unless someone is or has a relationship with someone who is Transgender will never understand the loss we feel – it’s a death but they’re still present just new an improved. I find it amazing that we live in a world of such superficialness,, we color our hair, get fake nails, implants, botox and whatever other cosmetic surgery is available to us – YET, when someone comes out about who they really are, people get stupid… I’m not saying it’s an easy thing to go through or watch someone you love transform, ITS NOT…. I came to the conclusion the other night that my pain and loss is very real, as yours is, no matter what anyone else may think. Yes we still have those we love and yes they are changing, fact is it’s still a loss to us going through it. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, it’s incomprehensible that people take the lives of another. We all need to treasure each and every moment we share w/those we love and be grateful for all that we have ~ unfortunately people in this world hide behind whatever issues they have, they hold them in, they try to please others until they just can’t deal anymore, they snap and then we all wake up for a little bit, then go right back to ignorance. As the spouse of a TS who spent 37 years hidding from the world, I watched him fade away, until she finally came out, I personally think that anyone who have the courage to face their true inner self and take action to make a better life for themselves and those they love are heroes and we all have a lot to learn from them. Our society is difficult enough as it is, having the courage to help change our society and culture is courageous! I am truly grateful to all in my life and for you JULIE for helping make my days a little more managiable, knowing that you are helping your child have confidence, know unconditional love and to be themselves!!! Hugs and Kisses to you and yours and a very Happy Holiday Season!!!!

    Sincerely,
    LG

  6. I have been having trouble dealing with this too, as the parent of a five year old, I simply cannot imagine receiving that call, to knowing I was going to come home each day but he would never be there… the very thought leaves me in tears.
    As someone who is Trans*, I cannot speak to what it must be like from the other side of watching someone like myself going through transition… the confusion, the disbelief, the feelings of loss… I know my wife has been and is going through this, I know she is doing her best to come to some type of understanding and acceptance. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to see me every day, so much the same, yet forever changed… a stranger in a familiar skin.
    It is in reading your words, in seeing your struggles, so similar yet so different, which have given me some small insight in to what those around me must be dealing with which keeps my own struggles in perspective.

    Thank you for sharing, for showing this is a journey taken by everyone.

    Sincerely,

    Kira Moore

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